Tsai Ming-liang Project to Follow Abel Ferrara Film in ‘Missing Pictures’ Series

By Ben Croll, Variety- World premiering this week at NewImages Festival in Paris before playing at the London Film Festival in early October, the Franco-British-Taiwanese co-production “Missing Pictures Ep. 1 – Birds of Prey” gives the stage to firebrand filmmaker Abel Ferraraas he plunges into a passion project that never could lift off the ground.

Directed by Clément Deneux, the eight-minute VR doc comes courtesy of French studios Albyon and Atlas V, and boasts Arte, BBC, and Taiwan’s PTS (alongside Serendipity Films) as producers – marking the inaugural team up of those three public broadcasters as well as Arte/BBC’s first ever joint digital offering.

Spearheading the project is Atlas V’s Antoine Cayrol, one of the industry leaders in narrative VR.

“As movie lovers, we all know that 90% of all projects never get made,” Cayrol tells Variety. “All of the great directors have cemeteries of unmade movies. With this series, we want to find five great directors, and have them tell the story of a movie they couldn’t make. We interview them in volumetric capture, and then recreate them – and their film – in animation, putting them inside the scene.”

“A lot of people who love cinema are not really curious about VR,” he continues. “Leaving aside professionals, even many fans are simply not that curious; so I really hope that by speaking about actual unmade films, it will bring a new kind of audience to VR – people that aren’t curious about VR, but are curious about this particular topic.”

After perches in Paris and London, episode one will keep on flying, hitting Geneva’s GIFF, Montreal’s Festival du Nouveau Cinema and additional fests later this fall.

Meanwhile, the producers are busy readying episode two – which centers on Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-liang – for a possible berth at next year’s Venice Film Festival, though the subsequent installments will follow a slightly different strategy.

“Within the next 18 months our goal is to finish the next three episodes and release them all in February 2022,” Cayrol explains. “Half will go out to festivals, and afterwards I want to release everything on all platforms.”

Currently casting subjects for episodes three and four, Cayrol and team are looking to focus the second half of the series on female directors. Though producers haven’t locked anyone down just yet, they do have a certain ideal participant in mind.

“My dream, and the dream of [series director] Clément Deneux, is Kathryn Bigelow,” says Cayrol. “We both agree that our main target is her. Please put it everywhere, it’s our dream to have her.”

“I’m a big optimist,” he adds. “Maybe if she reads this article she’ll call me.”