SHANGHAI CALLING (English / Mandarin)

Directed by: Daniel Hsia 2012 | 100 min.

Section: Narrative Nominees

Premiere: Los Angeles


Community Co-Presenter:

USC School of Cinematic Arts

We’re excited to lead off the 28th edition of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival with an important new work by a director we here at Visual Communications are proud to count as a member of the extended VC Family. Indeed, Daniel Hsia is a filmmaker we’ve been keeping an eye on since he presented his much-admired, never-quite-equaled USC short HOW TO DO THE ASIAN SQUAT at Festival 2002. Transitioning toward television writing, Hsia churned out scripts for network TV, but found time to create another memorable short, I HATE CHEESE, as a member of Visual Communications’ Armed With a Camera Fellowship in 2003. Tonight, Hsia leads an unprecedented charge of no less than four AWC alumni who are presenting feature-length works at this year’s Festival. (Ernesto Foronda, a member of the inaugural Class of 2002, returns with our Centerpiece Presentation, SUNSET STORIES; while Lisa Nguyen, AWC Class of 2007, did much heavy lifting as Co-Producer of Akira Boch’s THE CRUMBLES. Tim Jieh, a 2003 AWC classmate of director Hsia, is producing a special electronic music showcase as the Film Festival’s official Friday night party.). Hsia’s SHANGHAI CALLING piggy-backs on the current phenomenon of Asian Pacific filmmakers setting stories in the “New China” complete with all the back-door intrigues that come with money, power, and morality (see: Simon Yin’s SUPERCAPITALIST, Dayyan Eng’s INSEPARABLE, or even Chinese director Zhao Tianyu’s THE LAW OF ATTRACTION). Inspired in part by an extended trip to visit friends in China nearly three years earlier, SHANGHAI CALLING is director Hsia's depiction of a large expatriate network of communities in super-sleek Shanghai, clustered in mini-districts that identifies the nationality — “Americatown,” Canadatown,” and so on.

     Into Shanghai comes Sam (international heart throb Daniel Henney), a fast-rising corporate lawyer whose dream of making full partner in his New York law firm is put on hold when he reluctantly accepts an assignment to run the firm’s Shanghai office. Sam, Chinese by ethnicity but an All-American New Yorker through and through, finds himself totally out of his league, with no familiarity of the local cultural or business customs, much less an inability to speak any Chinese. In just one day on the new job, Sam manages to alienate his company-appointed relocation manager Amanda (Eliza Coupe) and his new legal assistant Fang Fang (Zhu Zhu), ingratiates himself to the Mayor of Americatown (Bill Paxton), and not twenty minutes at the office, botches a major electronics deal with Marcus (Alan Ruck), a billionaire technology executive seeking to cash in on a groundbreaking new invention. With his job and reputation on the line, a continued inability to learn the local customs, and a budding romance with Amanda in danger of short-circuiting before it even gets started, Sam is forced to turn to the one person who might just get him out of this whole big mess, a local legend named Awesome Wang….

     Director Hsia’s stock-in-trade is his ability to write witty and engaging comedy, and that talent is on full display in SHANGHAI CALLING. The action, never forced, allows his large cast to excel without ever going over the top; while Henney, best known for theatrical and television dramas ranging from his breakout turn in 2007’s MY FATHER to the 2009-10 series THREE RIVERS, displays a light touch for rom-com material. It’s easy to imagine him as Sam; and as a distinctly cosmopolitan professional, it’s just as easy to see him ending up with fellow expat Amanda. More to the point, SHANGHAI CALLING, in its incisive and comedic look at a community we may not be familiar with, succeeds at bringing us into a new, wondrous environment. It’s a place we’d like to visit. It might even be a place we’d like to stay for (quite) a while.

THU MAY 10  |  5:30 PM  |  $100 ticket price
Directors Guild of America  |  7920 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles
An exclusive red carpet VIP reception to celebrate and welcome our festival sponsors and filmmakers prior to the premiere screening of SHANGHAI CALLING. There will be free-flowing drinks, appetizers, and of course desserts! VIPs will receive festival gift bags and priority seating for the screening.

THU MAY 10  |  9:30 PM  |  $20
(free for badge holders and ticket holders)
Directors Guild of America  |  7920 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles
Come out to our star dazzling Opening Night Gala after the premiere of SHANGHAI CALLING! All you can drink Asahi and Ketel One throughout the night, along with a variety of late night snacks and desserts from various reception sponsors. With a DJ spinning, good friends and more! Purchase Tickets Here.

Synopsis written by: Abraham Ferrer


Thursday, May 10 7:00 PM Directors Guild of America Date Passed
Saturday, May 12 10:00 AM Directors Guild of America 2 Date Passed

Cast & Crew

Producer Janet Yang
Director Daniel Hsia
Writer Daniel Hsia
Director of Photography Armando Salas
Production Designer Yu Baiyang
Music Composer Klaus Badelt
Editor Pamela March
Cast Eliza Coupe, Geng Le, Daniel Henney, Bill Paxton, Alan Ruck, Zhu Zhu
Music Director Christopher Carmichael
Casting Director Poping Auyeung, Leslie Woo
Costume Designer Wang Haiyan