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Indie film 'Mao's Last Dancer' has impressive legs

November 8, 2010 |  5:10 pm

Maos Critics mostly thought that the movie "Mao's Last Dancer" had two left feet. But thanks to word of mouth and a steady stream of ticket buyers, this Australian movie about a Chinese ballet dancer is proving to have a sturdy set of legs for an independent film.

"Mao's Last Dancer" opened in limited release in the U.S. in late August and is still playing in a handful of theaters. The movie, released domestically by Samuel Goldwyn/ATO Pictures, is nearing $5 million in U.S. box office and has seen more admissions than certain other prestige indie films with bigger stars.

The movie was also a box-office success in Australia, where it opened last year.

"Mao's Last Dancer" is based on the life of Li Cunxin, the Chinese ballet star who defected to the U.S. in 1981 while in residence with the Houston Ballet. The movie is directed by Bruce Beresford and stars Chi Cao, Bruce Greenwood, Kyle MacLachlan and Joan Chen.

Producer Jane Scott said in an interview this year with the Times that part of the movie was filmed without a permit in China after the Film Bureau in Beijing denied the production's application twice.

It should therefore come as little surprise that one of the markets where "Mao's Last Dancer" hasn't been a hit is China. That's because the film has not been officially distributed in the country, although pirated DVDs have been sold on the streets.

Read the full story at the Times' 24 Frames blog.

— David Ng

 Photo credit: Samuel Goldwyn Films

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