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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

DON'T THINK I'VE FORGOTTEN: CAMBODIA'S LOST ROCK AND ROLL

I've been back from Cambodia for nearly a week, but due to a ghastly (and HUGE) blister on my foot, it was nigh impossible to calm myself down enough to do some writing!

Anyway, the doctor has popped the blister three nights ago, and I can finally continue writing again, especially about a particular film I caught at the Cambodia International Film Festival.

One of the gems of the festival, to me, was John Pirozzi's documentary, DON'T THINK I'VE FORGOTTEN: CAMBODIA'S LOST ROCK AND ROLL. A very comprehensive, feature-length documentary that the director spent nearly a year on. It's about a "golden period" from Cambodia's independence, to just before the country was rocked by civil war and the murderous Khmer Rouge regime.



This was what I wrote about DON'T THINK I'VE FORGOTTEN on Facebook a day after I saw the film. Exactly a week ago.




This is a very enlightening film that allowed me to know more about this country's culture and history, making me understand even more, what this country has lost, during the "killing fields" era. The director had taken a decade to work on this film, and I think it's a must-watch. Not just for music fans, but those who are curious about the country. It's really an important film.

I learnt so many names of singers watching the documentary. Sin Sisamouth, Rous Serey Sothea, Pen Ron, Houy Meas, Yos Olarang etc. They were all killed by the Khmer Rouge. But thankfully, their songs lived on (and can be found on YouTube)

Indeed, the documentary was absolutely enlightening and educational. And the screening I went to was amazing, especially when the audiences (most of them were either high school or university students) started cheering along with the songs that were played during the documentary. There was Yos Olarang's JIS CYCLO. He was killed by the Khmer Rouge.


And then, there were also the much-loved songs Sin Sisamouth (they called him the "king of Khmer music"), Rous Serey Sothea (King Norodom Sihanouk called her the "golden voice of the Golden Capital) and Pan Ron (the elusive second lady of Khmer music, Wikipedia declared). They were killed by the Khmer Rouge as well.

24 of these songs were lovingly compiled by a fan onto a Youtube playlist.


Houy Meas, who was considered the "voice of National Radio", both a deejay and a singer noted for her distinctive voice. She also fell victim to the Khmer Rouge.





A few of the musicians in the documentary actually got to perform at a "tribute concert" and the closing party of the Cambodia Film Festival. Unfortunately, I was already flying back to Malaysia at that time.










In spite of all the evils that the Khmer Rouge has perpetrated back then, with their tyrannical attempts to extinguish film, art, literature and rock n' roll (all because they represented the "evil western influences"), it's good to see that there are many things are surviving, and touching the new generation. Good things will always endure.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Films directed by Cambodia's King Norodom Sihanouk


Yesterday, I caught the screening of a documentary called DON'T THINK I'VE FORGOTTEN: CAMBODIA'S LOST ROCK AND ROLL by John Pirozzi (I'll write more on the film in another post). And through this film, I became very intrigued by the late King Norodom Sihanouk, whose love for music helped create the golden rock & roll era in Cambodia. Yes, he played the saxophone and the piano.

There are lots of videos of the King, on Youtube, singing. Here's an entire playlist of videos. Of the king. Singing.



What blew my mind even more was finding out that the king was also a filmmaker. A very prolific filmmaker. Back then, he was the only one with access to a 35mm camera, and other professional equipments. So he generally wrote, directed, composed and starred in his own films. There were more than a dozen feature films, and a lot more documentaries.

I did some more digging on Youtube and found some of the king's works.

This is a 1966 film called APSARA. It's a 2-hour epic.



King Sihanouk even had a film called TWILIGHT in 1969, decades before girls around the world went crazy over shiny vampires and tormented werewolves. He starred in it. But not as a vampire.



This 20-minute video is a compilation of all the musical scenes from 1969's LA JOIE DE VIVRE (THE GOOD LIFE)


Sunday, December 07, 2014

RIVER OF EXPLODING DURIANS 1st screening @ Cambodia International Film Festival + Nguyễn Võ Nghiêm Minh's NUOC 2030



(Screenshot of NUOC 2030, NOT River of Exploding Durians!)

Yesterday was the Cambodian premiere of RIVER OF EXPLODING DURIANS.

I took the Tuk Tuk to the Platinum Cinema in Sorya Shopping Center. Taking a Tuk Tuk to a film festival screening? I don't think I've ever done it before. What an interesting experience!




Sadly, these were the only photos I took that are related to the screening. :(

After the screening, I stayed around so I could catch the screening of Nguyễn Võ Nghiêm Minh's NUOC 2030, this year's opening film of the Berlinale Panorama.

I actually met Nguyễn Võ 4 years ago at Tokyo International Film Festival 2010. At that time, he came to catch the screenings of my short film INHALATION and Ming Jin's THE TIGER FACTORY (which were played back to back at the festival). I remember very well when he told me how he liked INHALATION, it was humbling.

So I was thrilled to catch NUOC 2030 after missing it in Busan.




I'll expand upon what I wrote on my Facebook post.

So yes, NUOC 2030 is a Vietnamese film set in the future, where most of the world is submerged under water due to global warming.

It's not really science fiction, but more speculative fiction. It's highly atmospheric and beautifully shot. Loved the fact that during Q and A session, the director mentioned how magical realist literature, especially the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, influenced his filmmaking. It's the same for me (Did papers on magical realism for my Masters and PhD, I'm quite a fan)

At its core, it's really a love triangle. A woman investigating the mysterious death of her husband, while having flashbacks of their lives together. And then, once she finds the man who is possibly behind her husband's death, we jump to another series of flashback, which changes everything we knew about the film up until that point. Quite an intriguing structure.

So yeah, it's quite a cool experience, watching a futuristic Vietnamese film. (while it's actually shot in contemporary Vietnam, kinda like Godard's Alphaville, but with more water)

A dystopian film set in a Southeast Asian country. How I wish I can do that in Malaysia too. Loose adaptation of the Hang Tuah story, with a sentient supercomputer as Sultan? Hmmmm...


Saturday, December 06, 2014

RIVER OF EXPLODING DURIANS @ Cambodia International Film Festival + Kulikar Sotho's THE LAST REEL + Opening Ceremony


I'm currently hanging out at my hotel room in Phnom Penh. In a few hours, RIVER OF EXPLODING DURIANS will be screening. Technically, this is the first film festival for DURIANS after Tokyo International Film Festival, I'm pretty thrilled, this is my first time in Cambodia.





I flew to Cambodia yesterday and headed straightaway, with luggage and all, to the venue of the opening ceremony at Aeon Mall (so familiar!)

The film festival was handing out their annual CIFF Talents Award to director Chey Sambath and actress Ma Rynet, for their talent and contribution to Cambodian film and TV industry. Chey Sambath's short film, made as part of Asian Film Awards, was screened before the opening film, THE LAST REEL, by Kulikar Sotho




THE LAST REEL is a heartwarming and very entertaining story of a rebellious young woman who stumbles upon an old movie that her mother starred in 40 years ago, made before the Khmer Rouge regime. She then tries to finish the film so she can show it to her mother. Getting her gangster boyfriend, a college professor and a few others to join in the fun. It's a very multilayered film, since it's also about the lives sacrificed during the horrible regime, especially those of filmmakers and actors.



I have actually met director Sotho Kulikar before, at the Tokyo International Film Fest, a few weeks ago. When she won THE SPIRIT OF ASIA award, she gave an absolutely wonderful acceptance speech.



I met her the day after, and this was the photo I took with her on the day I left Tokyo.




Yesterday, I didn't get to take any photos with her, but I managed to take a photo with THE LAST REEL actress Ma Rynet. Yeah!




More photos from the opening ceremony.



Sunday, November 30, 2014

Photos (and videos) from the MASYA ALISYA shoot


Two days after I came back from Copenhagen, I immediately headed off to a TV movie shoot that I was co-directing. Here are some photos from the Masya Alisya set.







This film is a musical (the ONCE / BEGIN AGAIN-type, not the LES MISERABLES type) starring the winners of local American Idol-esque singing competition series like Akademi Fantasia and Ceria Popstar (this one is for under 15).

Our lead actor is Aril, runner-up of the 2009 Akademi Fantasia. He plays a has-been pop singer-turned-secondary school music teacher, Razak.





His students are played by this year's Ceria Popstar winner, Masya, and the 1st and 2nd runners-up, Iqbal and rap duo Jomengo.









Even the little girl, Erissa, who played Alisya's little sister, was a Ceria Popstar participant. (she got 5th place, I think)



Singer Daiyan Trisha rounds up the cast as Razak's potential love interest, Dee (referencing a previous role in a previous telemovie, apparently)


More photos of us in action, I guess.






Shoot day 2… thing's happen

A photo posted by tk (@teecare) on



Day 3, Cam & Students

A photo posted by tk (@teecare) on



Director back to school !!!

A photo posted by tk (@teecare) on



Sound Girl and Director

A photo posted by tk (@teecare) on



Day 5, Black Magic shooting on scene .

A photo posted by tk (@teecare) on



Kids ! #MasyaAlisya

A photo posted by tk (@teecare) on







#MasyaAlisha .. Finale ..

A photo posted by #Malaysianlady (@malaysianlady) on





I'll now share previous videos of the cast members' singing performances. Aril sang some good songs in the film, but I can't find the music videos, so I'll make do with GANJIL, the most recent song I could find on Youtube.

Daiyan also sang KERANA KAU in Masya Aliysa. KERANA KU, apparently, is the theme song of the telemovie Dee.




The signature songs of the Ceria Popstar kids are also performed in the film. (Masya's TEMAN BINTANG, Iqbal's IBU, JoMeGo's KAU BOLEH BUAT).












Erissa didn't get to sing in the TV movie itself. But this is her music video.




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