Editing Studio Cutting Edge Films Keeps the Festival Hits Coming 5

What did five of the most critically acclaimed Asian movies that premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival have in common? They all were edited by rising Taiwanese studio Cutting Edge Films. 

Formally established only in 2022, the company comprises a small group of film professionals who have worked together for over a decade. They are co-led by French editor Matthieu Laclau (Touch of Sin), known for his long-running collaboration with Chinese auteur Jia Zhangke, and Taiwanese producer Justine O. (The Chinese Mayor, Black Dog), whose work has nabbed a succession of festival prizes in recent years. The company says its recent successes point to the maturity and expanding reach of Taipei’s post-production sector, which has been buoyed by steady government support and a growing reputation for high-quality work at globally competitive prices.

“Taipei’s post-production scene is definitely having a moment,” says Laclau. “For VFX, editing or color grading, the competency of the people and the quality of the work that’s available are extremely high now. We keep hearing from directors about their positive experiences and how much they would like to come back to do post in Taipei.” 

Cutting Edge Films is undoubtedly on a roll. The company’s titles in Cannes this year included arthouse favorites like Jia’s Caught by the Tides and Cambodian director Rithy Panh’s Meeting with Pol Pot, both in the main competition, as well as Chinese director Guan Hu’s offbeat drama Black Dog, which won the prestigious Un Certain Regard prize (all three titles were edited by Laclau). Company co-founder Tom Hsin-Ming Lin, a veteran Taiwanese editor known for his distinguished work in the documentary space, also edited the Indian feature drama The Shameless, whose star, Anasuya Sengupta, took home the best actress honor in the Un Certain Regard section. Junior team member Jenson Tay Yi, meanwhile, edited her first feature, the Taiwanese noir drama Locust, which was well received in Cannes’ Critics’ Week section. Company staffer Yann-Shan Tsai also cut the Taiwanese-Bralizian comedy Sleep with Your Eyes Open, which won the FIPRESCI Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival earlier this year. And Cutting Edge kept the moment going at the recently wrapped Shanghai International Film Festival, where Wei Shujun’s family drama, Mostly Sunny — edited by Laclau — won the best actor prize for its star Huang Xiaoming.

As in the West, it’s somewhat uncommon for film editors in Asia to band together under a shared company umbrella. The far more common approach is to work independently on a project-by-project basis. But Cutting Edge says its collective structure has allowed its team to leverage their tastes and industry contacts, while also matching each editor’s strengths and sensibilities to the projects and directors that suit them best. 

Eddie Peng in ‘Black Dog,’ winner of Cannes’s 2024 Prix Un Certain Regard

Cannes Film Festival

Producer Justine O. says she essentially operates as the editing collective’s “housekeeper” — “because I know exactly what kind of film is right for each person,” as she puts it. “Sometimes the director’s personality and the nature of the film require two or three editors to work together; other times, it’s more intimate and there is one person on the team who is the best fit for the project at hand. We have a lot of trust between us from working together for so many years, so we always discuss everything openly and work to find the solution that is best to keep the film moving forward.”

In recent years, the Taiwan Institute of Cultural Affairs (TAICCA), a government-backed intermediary organization that promotes the development of Taiwan’s content industries, has grown into a robust film funder, promoting and co-financing international co-productions that meet specified thresholds for Taiwanese industry participation. Cutting Edge has assisted projects with hitting TAICCA’s requirements for grant funding by referring other post-production companies and professionals from within the Taipei industry. Such activities have simultaneously helped the editing house further expand its project base beyond the Chinese-language industry where it got its start. 

“A lot of very experienced Taiwanese VFX supervisors, composers and other post-production professionals who were working in Hollywood came home to Taipei during COVID — and instead of going back, they’ve set up companies here,” says Laclau. “So, another way we can help, as editors, is to suggest good Taiwanese teams to meet a director’s needs for their movie,” he adds.

Cutting Edge’s diverse slate for the second half of 2024 includes: The Beast Within, a U.K.-shot horror film starring Kit Harrington and set for a U.S. release via Universal Pictures on July 26; South African director Pia Marais’s Transamazonia, which was shot in the Amazon; French feature Sang Craché Des Lèvres Belles, directed by Jean-Charles Hue; and Eric Khoo’s Japan-set drama Spirit World, starring Catherine Deneuve; along with a handful of high-profile Taiwanese and Chinese titles. 

Laclau adds: “We got our start with high-quality festival films, but we are always looking for new challenges. What connects our work at this point — whether it’s something arthouse or more commercial — is filmmaking that allows us to try something new while still connecting powerfully with the audience.” 

Zhao Tao in Jia Zhangke’s ‘Caught by the Tides,’ which was edited by Matthieu Laclau on behalf of Cutting Edge Films.

Cannes Film Festival

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