Veteran film distributor and producer Paolo Lee has died. He was 79.
Born in Malaysia, he spent much of his film industry career in Taiwan where he operated multiple businesses over the years, including King’s Video, Scholar Theatre Company, Lux Cinemas and B.I.G. Film which he founded.
He died on May 11 in Taiwan, just days short of his 80th birthday, and was buried privately by family before industry friends and colleagues were notified.
Lee (full name Lee Teck Hoo) attended La Scala, Italy as a music student. He started translating Hong Kong and Chinese-language movies for subtitles in Italian to support himself through school. While there, he also met his wife.
Although dogged by occasional bouts of bad health – including one notable time when he was transported by ambulance from the Busan Film Festival to Seoul – Lee remained active until his passing.
In 2009 he met Joshua Tong and together they founded C2M Media. Riding the exponential growth of mainland Chinese cinema at the time, the company sought to co-produce large-scale independent movies targeting a global audience.
Lee executive produced the Chinese version of “A Wedding Invitation,” which was the first commercially successful Korean-Chinese co-production. Othe credits there included ” Miss Granny,” and “When Larry Met Mary.” His most recent credit will be MM2’s “A Trip With Your Wife” directed by Gavin Lin, and which is to be released in August this year.
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Industry friends left multiple messages online, recounting Lee’s long career and his lively and endearing spirit. “I remember his beautiful singing voice and teaching me to play baccarat – always full of life,” said Glenn Kendrick Ackermann. “I remember his cheerful and operatic moments all those years ago. May he rest in love & peace,” wrote producer Lars Bjorck. “Lovely man, and funny as hell,” wrote programmer and festival organizer Tony Watts.