Netflix has ordered its first Chinese-language original series.
Bardo (擺渡身), which hails from Taiwan, is an eight-episode jailbreak thriller with a karmic dimension.
It follows the journey of Ah Quan, a good man who has descended into crime and now waits in prison for execution. An encounter with a mysterious inmate causes him to experience events from alternative timelines. Learning that his son is in danger, Ah Quan escapes to protect his family only to discover he is a pawn in a much larger game. Blending Taiwanese aboriginal mysticism and karmic destiny, Bardo – which describes state of existence between life and death – is Ah Quan’s search for redemption.
“A supernatural premise, a production team that’s created regional hits, and an up and coming director who’s received international acclaim – all of this has Netflix excited about Bardo.” says Erik Barmack, vice president of international original series at Netflix.
The streaming giant is teaming up with award-winning production company IFA Media and writer/director Sam Quah (柯汶利) for the project. IFA Media recently produced the highly-regarded Taiwanese series The Teenage Psychic (通靈少女）and Quah is a rising Taiwan based writer-director whose short film, The Free Man, was short-listed for an Oscar in 2015.
Frank Smith, Executive Producer of Bardo (擺渡身), adds: “Taiwan’s film and TV industry is full of amazing creativity and Sam’s a new Asian talent who is open to pushing the boundaries and trying new things but with a strong insight into local and regional themes. The combination of this range of skills from across the region and the chance to work with a global platform like Netflix that is producing amazing content we’d all love to create, made this a great partnership for IFA. The story itself is steeped in local realities and dilemmas but the approach, the script and the dramatic feel is something completely new.”
“After a year of preparation, I am delighted the show is coming to fruition,” comments Quah. “It’s been a pleasure working with IFA Media and global streaming platform Netflix, with all parties having shared the same visions for the concept throughout the process. The trust and respect given have allowed for me and the writers a great freedom to work and, in the process, also allowed for the vision of the show to expand and grow. This series which is being developed with Taiwanese lead writer, Lily Chen, originates from current issues in modern society regarding real-life prisoners on death row, and the series addresses the beliefs these prisoners have regarding their own freedom. Currently the series is preparing for shoot, and I look forward to working with the production crew to create an extraordinary series.”
Bardo will be released worldwide on Netflix at the same time.