Galen Tong‘s The Monkey King has beaten about 1,000 entrants to win the Beijing International Screenwriting Competition’s Feature Film Grand Prize, competition chair Kevin Niu announced Oct. 18. The $15,000 prize will be announced at an event Oct. 19, “China’s Entertainment Industry: The Next Chapter,” at 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
The Monkey King tells the story of a man whose friend is killed by foreigners during the turn-of-the-20th century Boxer Rebellion in China who then disguises himself as the Monkey King, a traditional character in the Peking Opera, and joins a secret society of warriors to expel the colonialist enemies.
“The milieu is based on a real period, but the characters are fictional,” Tong tells The Hollywood Reporter. “So many foreign filmmakers have not figured out the American way of telling a story. The Hollywood way is the most satisfying worldwide.”
“This contest will help bridge the gap [between China and Hollywood],” adds Niu. “We’re talking with Chinese investors — $20 [million] to $50 million is what we’re looking for.”
Tong says what gave him the edge was his experience in both Asia and Hollywood. He got a BA at UCLA and an MFA at USC, has appeared in his friend David Mamet‘s Redbelt and The Unit, and won a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Writing Award and the Twentieth Century Fox Screenwriting Fellowship. He has produced credits on primetime network television with CBS/Columbia Tri-Star and feature film sales to 20th Century Fox Studios, and wrote theatrical features for the Southeast Asian market, working for Sahamongkol Films, the studio that made the Ong Bak series of martial arts films.
Honorary BIS competition presidents include Vice-Mayor of Beijing Wei Lu and two-time Academy Award-winning director Mark Harris. Grand Judges for the competition include Harris, Tracey Trench, producer of The Pink Panther and consultant for Oriental DreamWorks, and Heping Zhang, chairman of the People’s Art Theatre of Beijing. For more information go to www.writebeijing.org/