An Unfinished Film: Lou Ye tells the story of a doomed film project


Fifteen years after winning the Best Screenplay Award for Spring Fever, Lou Ye returns to Cannes to present his latest feature film, An Unfinished Film—a very personal yet still mysterious work—at a Special Screening.

An Unfinished Film is the story of a doomed project. The story takes place in a hotel near Wuhan in January 2020.  As a crew resumes production on a film project interrupted ten years prior, a virus starts to spread. The team finds itself trapped, with screens providing their only window to the outside world.

Apart from obvious parallels with the recent worldwide pandemic, Lou Ye’s latest film is still shrouded in mystery on the eve of its screening. The only certainty, according to co-producer Philippe Bober, is that it’s his “most personal” film, shot like the “diary of an intellectual”.

In a career spanning almost twenty-five years, Lou Ye has established himself as a fiery voice in Chinese cinema, even if it means incurring the wrath of the authorities. In 2006, he presented Summer Palace in Competition without the regime’s authorisation. The film, which explores the taboo of sexuality and the Tiananmen Square events (albeit off-screen), led to a five-year ban from making films.

The director would have to be cunning for his next films: Spring Fever, the story of a love triangle, and Love and Bruises, shot in France and starring Corinne Yam and Tahar Rahim. He last appeared at Cannes with Mystery, presented in the Un Certain Regard section in 2012.