Cathay Film Unveils Scripted Drama, Coolie
Cathay Film Company reveals new scripted drama series, Coolie, starring Louise Wong, Joseph Chang, Mauricio Henao, Camila Arteche and Sian Chiong. By: Wee Yan Ling
The little-known history of enslaved Chinese ‘coolies’ in Cuba in the 1860s, amidst the backdrop of the Spanish Revolution, has inspired a new limited series from Singapore based Cathay Film Company’s Meileen Choo.
Titled Coolie, the English and Chinese language drama series is a global production showcasing a multinational ensemble cast from Hong Kong, Cuba and Columbia.
The narrative of the story is set in the mid-1800s when the African slave trade was outlawed throughout the Americas, and plantation owners in Cuba started trafficking indentured servants, “coolies” from Asia that were treated as slaves. Eventually, the “coolies” eventually integrate into the Cuban society and fought for their independence from Spain, and merged with the workers coming out of indentured servitude, providing a workforce for farms, restaurants, factories and setting up Chinatowns across the world.
The series follows the life of a young Chinese girl, Wong, who sets off from Southern China to marry a political exile working in a sugarcane plantation in Cuba.
She then encounters a compassionate plantation owner who does not own any slaves, as they devise a plan for independence from Imperial Spain. They are joined by the Chinese indentured servants and African slaves in their quest for freedom. However, the plantation’s owner's estranged wife and her former lover conspire to undermine their efforts, setting off a chain of intricate plots and reprisals that could determine the fate of Cuba.
Film industry veteran, Meileen Choo is the creator and the showrunner of the series. Choo is renowned for running the Cathay organisation, a heavyweight name in Singapore’s film industry. Coolie serves as her debut series and her new Cathay Film Company banner.
Coolie will be directed by Taiwanese-American director Arvin Chen, who most recently directed episodes of Apple's hit series Pachinko as well as films Au revoir Taipei, Mama Boy, and Love in Taipei.
Choo said, "This story has long been a passion project of mine. We are telling a version here with drama, action, love and intensity during a real time in history with overarching themes that are still very relevant today. Our intent is to make the connection entertaining and meaningful for a contemporary audience and I'm proud to say we have a tremendously talented cast and team to realize this vision."
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