23 January 2017 | By Dave McNary
Set in Thailand, “Pop Aye” tells the story of an over-the-hill architect and his attempt to take his long-lost elephant back to their rural hometown. Written and directed by Singaporean writer-director Kirsten Tan, “Pop Aye” was the opening night film in the World Dramatic section on Jan. 19.
Kino Lorber is planning to bring “Pop Aye” to North American theaters during the summer, before a VOD and physical media release later this year.
The film follows a man who’s been emotionally adrift until he unexpectedly encounters into his long-lost childhood “pet” elephant Popeye, performing in the streets of Bangkok. He’s spurred to return his displaced friend to rural Loei, the small village where they grew up, and they encounter fellow lost souls, like a gas station vagabond yearning for his first love and a lonely karaoke singer aching for a friend.
Variety’s Maggie Lee gave the film a strong review at Sundance: “Warm yet unsentimental, graced with the lightest touch of surrealism, this opening-night offering from Sundance’s world cinema dramatic competition is a joy for patient viewers, special enough to find a small but appreciated life beyond festivals.”
Kino Lorber CEO Richard Lorber said, “‘Pop Aye’ is poetically profound but the elephant in the room is really its warm heart. We’re immensely pleased to be working with such an original talent in Kirsten Tan on this audience charmer. No one can resist falling in love with her screen star, the two ton Pop Aye.”
The deal was negotiated between Lorber and Sébastien Chesneau of Cercamon.