The new company will be involved with developing, producing, marketing and distributing the next generation of Asian film and television. It will work with Asian filmmakers and production studios to create fresh slates that speak to shifting tastes and audiences, and will handle licensing and merchandising for live-action and animation content.
The new company debuts by picking up exclusive distribution and remake rights to the iconic Cathay-Keris Films’ Chinese and Malay libraries controlled by one-time leading studio Cathay Organization. These include 166 Chinese-language titles and 91 Malay titles from the 1950s and 1960s, considered the golden age of Singapore cinema. All titles have been restored and archived in Hong Kong and Singapore.
The first two Cathay-Keris properties being re-developed into contemporary features are “Sun, Moon and Star Part 1 & 2” (1961) and “The Greatest Civil War On Earth” (1961) trilogy.
“Sun Moon and Star” was directed by Evan Yang and starred Julie Yeh Feng, Grace Chang and Chang Yang as three women who all fall for the same man. Pitched as Hong Kong’s answer to “Gone With the Wind” the film leads all three women to the battlefields of WWII and won the best drama film prize at the first Golden Horse awards.
Involving two tailors, “Civil War” is a comedy depicting the culture clash between Cantonese speaking Hong Kongers and Mandarin speakers emigrating from Shanghai. It was directed by Wong Tin-lam and written and produced by Stephen Soong. “The Greatest Wedding On Earth” and “The Greatest Love Affair On Earth” complete the film series.
“(Picking up the catalogs) opens up lots of opportunities to use tried and tested successful stories to be updated and tailor-made to suit local audiences in various countries,” said I.E. Entertainment co-founder Indra Suharjono.
“The last five years, the real winners across the Asian continent have largely been local releases. And there are more homegrown talents and stories in Asia that we could tap,” said Erlina Suharjono. “I hope by bringing Asian stories and culture to the rest of the world, it helps in whatever way to stymie the prejudices against Asians.”
Indra Suharjono is currently the senior media advisor to Thailand’s JKN Global Media. She was previously CEO of Next Animation Studio from 2015-2018, and before that spent a decade with Viacom International Media Networks Asia, including as EVP and MD, Asia, and 12 years at TimeWarner with roles at Warner Bros. Pictures International, Warner Bros. Consumer Products, and Turner Entertainment Networks Asia.
Erlina Suharjono has had two stints at Warner Bros. in Asia totaling some 24 years. Roles there have included EVP Asia distribution and MD of China and Hong Kong, and was the CineaAsia distributor of the year in 2007. She has also acquired local content for the studio and overseen licensing of Warner Bros. Pictures’ theatrical rights to Cambodia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.
Both Indra and Erlina Suharjono have worked at Cathay Organization at different times. “Indra and Erlina are old friends of over 40 years. They are stalwarts of the industry, and I am very pleased to be working with them again,” said Choo Meileen, director of Cathay Organization.
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