Berlin-based sales agent ArtHood Entertainment has picked up world rights, outside of much of East Asia, to “Salli,” a film which has its world premiere this week in the Busan International Film Festival’s A Window on Asian Cinema program.
The Mandarin-, Taiwanese-, English- and French-language film follows a lonely middle-aged chicken farmer Hui-Chun, who doesn’t speak English and develops a romantic relationship through an app with a French man who calls himself Martin. In the online world, Hui-Chun is Salli. Despite everyone calling it a romance scam, she wants to prove that love indeed exists.
The Taiwan-France film marks the feature debut of Taipei-based filmmaker Lien Chien-Hung after several acclaimed shorts and a TV movie.
“The reason why I want to make ‘Salli’ is because of very common news in Taiwan. Many men and women are deceived by love on the internet,” Lien told Variety earlier this year. “As bystanders, we always laugh at why these people are so stupid. How can they believe in love on the internet? But I reflected, is there something wrong with these people who believe in love? They just want to be loved. So I started Salli’s story.”
“What I want to say through ‘Salli’ is that everyone longs to love and to be loved, but don’t get lost in the search for love and forget that, most of all, you have to love yourself first,” Lien adds.
“Salli” is produced by Lee Lieh (“Detention”), Dennis Wu (“The Post-Truth World”), Amanda Tseng Man-Yin (“The Forest”) and Uilin Ong (“The Silent Forest”) and production companies include ENLA Media, the Graduate Co. and Bole Film.
At project stage, the film attended multiple markets and project pitching events including the 2019 Golden Horse Film Project Promotion Plan, where it won that year’s grand prize, as well as the more recent Hong Kong — Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF).
“We have been following the title since HAF, followed by their pitching in Cannes,” said Nesligul Satir, sales manager at ArtHood, told Variety.
The company’s remit excludes Taiwan, China (including Hong Kong and Macau), India, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Brunei, and Myanmar.
ArtHood Entertainment describes itself as “a sales company for arthouse and auteur cinema focused on films from the Middle East, a region gaining more and more political, economic and cultural importance.”
“’Salli’ is our first film acquired from outside the MENA region. With ‘Salli,’ we are expanding into new territories and discovering new talents,” Satir said.