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My Short Films

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

RIVER OF EXPLODING DURIANS in Tokyo International Film Fest main competition

The Tokyo International Film Festival announced its line-up yesterday. So it's official, RIVER OF EXPLODING DURIANS is going to the main competition section. (In fact, I already received the messages from friends at the moment of the press conference, the age of social media is awesome. And so fast!)

So this was the message I posted at night, when I finally got home.

It's official. My debut feature film River of Exploding Durians 榴莲忘返 is in the Main Competition of Tokyo International Film Fest, where it will make its world premiere. I would like to thank each and everyone who had helped me with this film, the cast and crew, from the leads to the extras. Each and every one of you made this happen, thank you for believing in this.

River of Exploding Durians is the first Malaysian film ever to be in Main Competition, we have made history together. Thank you so much for helping me fulfil my lifelong dream.

Woo Ming Jin Kong Pahurak TK Cheng Minimal Yossy Prapapan Kay Wong Teo Wey Yinn Liew Hanji Vince Cheong Ji Lian Kwan Zh Joe Liew Edward Yu Chee Boon Anas Aiman Husyn Matthew Roche Cheah Jie Juan Wilson Foo Yong Sheng Gabrielle Hooi Min Lee MonDay Yan Kenny Chua Eva Tan Eric Yeo Chik Soon Come Koe Shern Joey Leong Daphne Low Zhi-ying Zhu Nottei Yeong Ram Pd MayJune Tan Angel Chang Azman Hassan Loo Sheng Yau JT Josh Ivan Tai Kayce Koh Chin Hui Jasmine Chin-xm Aop'x Yee Theng Soulomon Tan Yi Yuan Justin Tay Yann Lim Yeet Sim Pearlly Chua Kinwah Chew Lee Chatametikool Gigs Siripun

(I'm sorry if I've left anyone out! I might not have you on FB!)

When I started making this film in January, I was angry at so many things, so many people. But as the shoot went on, I felt nothing but love and gratitude, every single second of the shoot was exciting. I absolutely loved it.
Congratulations for getting into main competition too, Khavn De La Cruz!

And congratulations to a couple of directors whose films are in Asian Future Competition: Jiekai Liao, Kiki Sugino and fellow Malaysian director Nik Amir (director of KIL) and Pepe Diokno! And Shingo Ota too, for getting into Japanese Splash! I'll see you all in Tokyo!

Since then, I've been getting quite a few congratulatory messages on Facebook, emails, Twitter, from friends, family and the media. I'm very grateful, and honoured. There were a couple of phone, email and Facebook interviews too.

I woke up and saw the news from the local media. In three different languages. It never happened to me before, as long as I could remember.

China Press newspaper. (I first read the article when it was shared by my cousin, who inspired a character named "Cousin Choong", played by actor Jonathan Lee, in the film!)

And then there was Cinema Online.

And even Astro Awani! (Which reinforced the fact that RIVER OF EXPLODING DURIANS made history.)

I even launched the poster today. Whoa!

The cast members of RIVER OF EXPLODING DURIANS had posted about this great news too.

Tomorrow morning I'm heading off to Puay Chai, my primary school, to give a talk to Standard 6 students. I hope I won't bore these 12-year-old kids.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Photos from a breast cancer awareness video shoot

I was in Bangkok doing the post-production for RIVER OF EXPLODING DURIANS when I saw an old acquaintance of mine, Claire Khoo, asking on Facebook whether anyone would be able to help her do a video about breast cancer awareness.

Claire, of course, was known as Minishorts back in the day and had a very popular blog. I've even done some guest posts for her. Those were almost 9 years ago. An eternity.

She is a breast cancer survivor too.

I decided to join the cause. Assembled a team to do a video where breast cancer survivors like Claire and many others, along with their friends and family, could share their stories. There are those who didn't survive, so their family members could tell their stories too.

Yesterday morning, I triumphantly declared the beginning of the shoot... but accidentally leaving out the "CANCER" in the "BREAST CANCER AWARENESS". As you can see from the comments, Comedy ensued.

TK, of course, posted way more good photos of the shoot.

And this was me, doing some directing stuff. (No, I really was just adjusting my hoodie)

I got Steve Long, a long-time friend and very experienced DoP (also a director) to shoot for me. It was our very first collaboration!

Gonna start syncing the audio and do my editing.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Promotional short film for GST Expo 'IN TIME OF TEST'

Joseph Germani staring at the sun, contemplating.

Sarah Lian contemplates too.

Last month, I wrote about doing a promotional short film for October's GST Expo.

The short film "In Time of Test", which stars popular Youtuber Joseph Germani and renowned TV personality Sarah Lian, was uploaded last week. You can watch it here.

While shooting the short film, I was also followed by a group of film students from Arte Academy.

The kids made a "Behind-The-Scenes" video. Nice work, guys.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Finishing up the RIVER OF EXPLODING DURIANS post-production in Bangkok

Teacher Lim (Zhu Zhi-Ying) and her merry band of student protesters

I have spent the last 12 days in Bangkok for the post-production of both films, Woo Ming Jin's SECOND LIFE OF THIEVES (which I produced and co-wrote) and RIVER OF EXPLODING DURIANS (which I directed), at White Light Post.

I wrote about the experience with SECOND LIFE OF THIEVES here.

Once Ming Jin left, they started work on RIVER OF EXPLODING DURIANS.

What an actual colorist can do to your film is amazing.

Professor Ando, who also happened to be in Bangkok for a few days, came to White Light Post for a visit. Sadly, I wasn't around that day, having gone off to do the sound mixing with Yossy the sound guy. :(

But Ando-sensei left me some of my most beloved Black Thunder chocolate bars, which I shared with the White Light Post folks the day after that. They loved it.

On Sept 18. I was more or less done. Kong the cinematographer and Yossy the sound guy were there too to watch the film, making notes on what has to be changed before we finalize the film and place it in DCP. After that, we went off for a great meal.

A few hours later, I headed off to the airport.

Posted about my thoughts on the entire experience:

"After 12 days, I'm finally back from Bangkok. Aside for some slight adjustments, the post-production work for River of Exploding Durians 榴莲忘返 is pretty much done.

I must thank Lee Chatametikool and the wonderful folks of White Light Post. Watching the colour grading and other things they did on the film the past week had been an inspiring and educational experience!

White Light Post is a postproduction company that has worked on a lot of award-winning films over the last few years, like Kongdej Jaturanrasmee's TANGWONG and P-047, Aditya Assarat's HI-SO and WONDERFUL TOWN, Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit's 36 and MARY IS HAPPY MARY IS HAPPY. The list goes on and on.

All my life I have wanted to make a movie. I'm so glad that they are around as I head towards the end of this journey.

大家好! 经过了漫长的12天, 我终于从曼谷回来了。 《榴莲忘返》的后期制作也算是大功告成。 首先要谢谢Lee Chatametikool以及White Light Post后期制作公司里的队友们。 看着他们为我们的片子调色, 又加一些很棒的视觉效果, 我觉得自己好像上了一堂课, 很幸运的学了很多东西。

Lee是泰国知名的剪接师, 除了剪接经典鬼片Shutter之外, 也是剪接所有阿彼察邦·韦拉斯哈古的作品, 包括第63届康城影展金棕櫚獎得主的《波米叔叔》。 他公司也参与了很多很棒的泰国电影, 例如本人超喜欢的P-047(2010年入围威尼斯影展)。

虽然出道了以后拍了很多短片, 电视剧, 广告等, 我的童年梦想仍然是拍一部电影。 这梦想好像快要实现了。

Thursday, September 18, 2014

10 books that stayed with me in some way


Posted this on Facebook a few days ago.

(So I will post it here too, but with amendments. And links to previous blog posts related to these books. To help me remember.)

The rules: List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. They do not have to be great works of literature. Don't think too much of your choices. Tag 10 people, plus me so I can see your choices.

1) DRAGONLANCE CHRONICLES by Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis

Read this when I was 12. In retrospect, these Dragonlance books are pretty bloody horrible. But they did introduce me to the fantasy genre, yeah. I read these before the Lord of the Rings books, His Dark Materials, Narnia etc.

But at that time, I was quite a fan. When I first got to use the Internet, back in 1997, the first website I tried to go to was "", I subscribed to Tracy Hickman's newsletter, wrote a fan mail to Richard A. Knaak (and was absolutely thrilled when he replied) Ah, the early days of Internet. I was so much simpler.


Read this even earlier. Probably one of my faves as a child. Loved this and Glass Elevator.

3) LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Read this 9-10 years ago when I was in Perth. When you were suffering from the pains of unrequited love, and then read about some guy who spent half a century pining after a woman, you realize things aren's so bad after all.

4) INVISIBLE CITIES by Italo Calvino
Also read this during my Perth days, thanks to my pal Justin. After so many years of fantasy and scifi stuff, this opened my mind about the possibilities of literature.


My first Murakami. Discovered it when I was in Perth too (I would say that those years in Perth during my early twenties was when I made the most discoveries) I was pretty bloody frustrated, reading this. Almost hated it. My relationship with Murakami til today had always been somewhat lukewarm. But I would continue reading his works, some I really loved (HARD-BOILED WONDERLAND AND THE END OF THE WORLD, WILD SHEEP CHASE), some I enjoyed (NORWEGIAN WOODS, AFTER DARK) and some that disappear from my mind once I was done.


I'm going to make my amendment. While Wind-Up Bird Chronicles was my first Murakami book, my reaction to it was lukewarm at best. I don't think the book really stayed with me.

On the other hand, it was my favourite Murakami book HARD-BOILED WONDERLAND AND THE END OF THE WORLD which continues to linger. I read this in 2010, in my hotel by the sea at Brignagon, France. I think I might have finished it in one sitting.

I was reading it from afternoon to evening, when the sun was about to set, and golden rays of sun enveloped my room, until it was night, when suddenly there were fireworks outside. It was never just the book, but also the experience of reading it, that makes these things so memorable.

6) PALM-OF-THE-HANDS-STORIES by Yasunari Kawabata

To me, the best stuff by Kawabata had always been his short stories. Read some of the shorts during my last few months in Perth (thanks to former guestblogger Justin, who posted about this book on this blog), and finished the rest of it when I just moved to Tokyo in 2008. Heavy influenced. Two Three short films I did were inspired by this. LOVE SUICIDES (2009), KINGYO (2009) and the experimental THE WHITE FLOWER (2010). Thanks to the festival exposure of the former two that gave me, I think my career owes a lot to this book.

Yeah, watch Kingyo here


It's actually four books. Spring Snow, Runaway Horses, Temple of Dawn and The Decay of the Angel, but to me, it felt more like one really long book separated into four parts. The first two books inspired my feature film RIVER OF EXPLODING DURIANS.

I read this after former guestblogger Justin (now a published author) posted his very detailed review of the books on this blog in 2006.

8) 100 YEARS OF SOLITUDE by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

In 2011. I decided to read this book. After the first chapter, I was hooked. Prepared some snacks and drinks, locked myself in the room, kept on reading for 24 hours until I was done with it. It was the literature equivalent of a movie marathon.

9) MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN by Salman Rushdie
I read this in 2008 (and then wrote excitedly about it). Also when I just moved to Tokyo. I was never the same again. Flashback to 2008, what I wrote on the blog post:

Yet for the first time ever, MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN caused me to think a little about what my first feature film would be like. For some brief moments, I mentally made vague outlines about its possibilities, like a lovesick man imagining how his son would look like.

Whether I were to shoot it in Tokyo, or in Malaysia...

"My first film would be something epic." I said solemnly to my little sister on MSN, earning a confused '0_0' from her in return. And by typing out my sudden pronouncement, the ghostly apparition of an idea faded away, just as expected.

Of course, it was just a spur of a moment thing. Just a person suddenly feeling very inspired because he had just read a great book. Understanding my own situation, I added, in equal solemnity, to my sister (over the MSN):

"Yup. Finishing a great work of literature can be so inspiring at times."

As I am typing this. 6 years have passed. I am now waiting to watch my first film RIVER OF EXPLODING DURIANS in a post-production house, finalizing it. 6 years after declaring I would make an "epic", I ended up doing something as ambitious as I wanted. I don't think the 24-year-old me would be disappointed with the 30-year-old me.

10) SOUL MOUNTAIN by Gao Xingjian

Read this in 2012. My most vivid memory of it was reading this a few hours after midnight in a McDonald's at Shinjuku, as I was hanging out there with someone after missing the last train home. She had fallen asleep. I was mesmerized by both the languorous prose and her visage.
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