Ding, who won a Golden Horse Award for her supporting role in “Cities of Last Things,” and Tsao, who won at the Taipei Film Festival for his supporting role in another sports drama, 2014 baseball tale “Kano,” respectively play the mother and elder brother of a promising young fencer. The high school fencer is portrayed by rising star Liu Hsiu-Fu.
The story sees the youngster choose to trust and help his dangerous older brother who is released from jail. This means defying their mother’s attempts to bury the brother’s existence and hide the family’s traumatic past.
The film is written and directed by first-time feature director Nelicia Low, who previously represented Singapore on the country’s national fencing team, before retiring to focus on filmmaking. A graduate of Columbia University, Low previously wrote and directed the short film “Freeze,” which premiered at Clermont-Ferrand and screened at over 70 international film festivals.
“I started writing this film in 2015 to explore my relationship with my older brother who is autistic. I used to idealize him as a loving, caring older brother, but as I grew up, I realized that our entire relationship was made up in my head. Accepting that I would never know if my brother actually reciprocated my love has been a painful journey for me. And it is the same one (the teenager) takes in Pierce,” said Low. “When we think about unconditional love, we often think about a parent’s love for their child. For me, it is the relationship between siblings that is more pure and unfiltered.”
“Pierce” is structured as a three-way international co-venture with production by Potocol (Singapore), Flash Forward Entertainment (Taiwan), Harine Films (Poland) and John M. Lo (Singapore), with support from Infocomm and Media Development Authority of Singapore, TAICCA, the Polish Film Institute, Taipei Film Commission, Taoyuan City Government, HBF+Europe Minority Co-Production Support, Taichung City Government and Purin Pictures.
“Pierce” was developed at the Full Circle Lab Philippines 2020 and at the Talents Tokyo 2020, where it won a special mention, and at the Focus Asia All Genres Project Market 2021.
Potocol, which this year had “Rehana Maryam Noor” play in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes, specializes in co-production of Asian auteur films. It was previously involved with “Motel Acacia” and Raya Martin’s “Death of Nintendo.”
The producers have been careful to surrounded Low with an experienced crew that includes Polish cinematographer Michal Dymek, whose latest work in “Wolf” is premiering at Toronto International Film Festival, and much decorated Taiwanese sound designer Tu Duu Chih (“In The Mood for Love,” “Millennium Mambo” and “What Time Is It There?”). Production is scheduled to begin in Taiwan in January 2022.