EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures International Productions has acquired worldwide distribution rights to The Calm Beyond, a survivalist thriller that premiered in competition at the 2020 Adelaide Film Festival. This is the feature directorial debut of the late Joshua Wong, the award-winning commercials and shorts director, who tragically lost his battle with cancer in December 2020.
From a story by Wong and Heather Gornall, and a script penned by Gornall, The Calm Beyond stars Kara Wang (Top Gun: Maverick, Goliath) as Asha, one of the few survivors living in Hong Kong after climate change has devastated the city and left it a dark and dangerous place.
Before his passing, Wong said of The Calm Beyond, “while being a survival film at its core, it’s really about living with trauma and picking up the pieces of a broken life. How do you live after the storms of your life have hit?”
Wong added that Wang “poured everything into this film, which results in an incredibly intimate and raw character that I’m sure will touch people in a very personal way. She is an absolutely spectacular actress and I couldn’t imagine a better performance for the role.”
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Wang notes, “Josh was someone who always celebrated life. He celebrated the wins, no moment too small. He was so incredibly thoughtful and always had a smile on his face. This is the energy he brought to set. The lightness he brought pulled me out of the places of darkness I had to go to for Asha. Trauma, guilt and grief are just some of the universal emotions that run through The Calm Beyond. Josh was so incredibly open with sharing his story to help me understand his vision. He was one of the bravest people I knew.”
In the lead up to Stars Wars: The Force Awakens, Wong famously directed two commercials for the regional market. Working alongside Lucasfilm, his story introduced the first Chinese Jedi and was the first official Star Wars creative to be developed and produced outside of North America.
As creative director of Hong Kong’s The Laundromatte, Wong’s take on established concepts caught the eye of brands such as Adidas, Maserati, Marvel, Ponds, Starbucks and Universal Music. His short films The New Politics, Doors and The Mailbox all won awards at film festivals internationally. Prior to his passing, he was developing the previously announced Invasian TV series with Endless Media and several projects with Moonlight producer Andrew Hevia.
The Calm Beyond executive producers Gavin Lurie and Najeeb Khuda of Endless Media said, “It has left all of us who knew Joshua heartbroken, not only about losing one of the most authentic, kind and collaborative people we have ever met, but also that the world loses an artist who was just beginning to show the world what he was capable of. We are thrilled the world will get to see the brilliance that lay in the heart and mind of Joshua Wong with this beautiful film that he crafted. With The Calm Beyond, we believe Joshua truly announced himself and we are so honored to be a part of this film as finding and supporting emerging and unique voices such as Joshua is exactly why we’re in this business.”
The film was produced by Joshua Wong and Kat Wong of Option Four Films along with Khuda and Lurie.
Wang is repped by Global Artists Agency and Stride Management. The rights deal was negotiated by Michael Rifkin on behalf of Sony Pictures International Productions and Lurie on behalf of the producers.