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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY screenings at the Dubai International Film Fest

The screening for CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY was on the 13th and 14th. Evening on the first day, early afternoon on the second day. It's in competition under the AsiaAfrica Short Films category, and it was screened with 4 other short films of the same category.

Chicken Rice Mystery in the Dubai Film Fest catalogue

Aside from CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY, the other short films screened in the same programme were:

1) Ambulance, by Richard Legaspi of Philippines
2) Young Blood, by Haolun Shu of China
3) Everything Is Okay, by Akjoltoy Bekbolotov of Kyrgyzstan
4) Bakhytzhamal, by Adilkhan Yerzhanov of Kazakhstan

All directors were there to introduce the films, and then come back for the Q and A session after screening. Unfortunately, I only have photos of the first screening, and not the second. The following photos are from the Q and A session. Far left is Philip Cheah, programming consultant and moderator of the sessions. The first on the right was Haolun Shu, and then there's Richard standing beside me.

Q and A session

Question and Answer session 2

Speaking during the Q and A session

A photo of us having dinner after the screening. My dad was there too, of course. Dressed in red is Adilkhan Yerzhanov of Kazakhstan, in black is Akjoltoy Bekbolotov of Kyrgyzstan. Adilkhan is a major film buff who likes Johnnie To, Alexander Payne and Paul Thomas Anderson too. We have similar film tastes :D

Dinner after the screening

I had more questions to answer during my second day, where I was there to describe the creative process of the film, and also explain about the Malaysian Censorship in general to an audience member. I cheerily brought up the censorship issues faced by Flower In The Pocket, which I believe had been very helpful in encouraging the creativity of local filmmakers (in finding methods to avoid censors).

Overall, I have to say that this had been a fun experience. It's the first time I've ever seen my own directed film being screened in a multiplex, the sense of pride is a little different from, say, when I represented Ming Jin to present ELEPHANT AND THE SEA at its screening and Q and A session as producer during last year's Santiago Film Fest.

A few days later, dad and I had a conversation about Perth. It's only been two years since I've left the place, yet it felt so much longer. But then, maybe two years is a long time, it's just that two is such a small number, I should've just used '730 days' instead of '2 years' because it sounds longer. More than 730 days ago, my dad was also present during the screening of my student short film GIRL DISCONNECTED in my university. And now, more than 730 days later, I was given the privilege of having my short film screened at this Dubai Film Fest. It's almost as if we've gone full circle!


  1. COngrats... The sense of pride in having your own film screened at a film festival. So, is that why your name tag was specially glowing in one picture, haha.

    Well, there will be more to come. :)

    Anyway, just curious what sort of questions did people ask about your film?

  2. ya, the glowing name tag makes you look like Iron Man and his glowing chest.

  3. Congrats. I voted for you on the BMW contest.

  4. Congrats. How was the other films?

  5. DI and Allan: Hehe, actually, the people from Phoenix TV were there to shoot the introduction (mostly of Haolun Shu's, being from China and all) so they had a light attached to their camera. Or rather, I think that was the most logical explanation for the glowing badge. Although they might have already left the hall when the photos were taken :D

    Philip, who moderated the event, helped ask each of us the questions that were probably in most people's minds, and because I'm such a non-stop talker, I pretty much say stuff that answered whatever other questions they had... but anyway, most CRM-related questions were like this:

    - Creative process of the film

    (This one I talk about in painstaking detail, including how I managed to have other filmmakers like James Lee acting in the film... which I said had a lot to do with the distinctive tight-knit community amongst the Msian indie filmmakers, and also cos he lives nearby :D)

    - How autobiographical it is

    (Film's about a boy investigating why his mom sucks so badly at cooking... I admitted certain parts were autobiographical, but chose not to elaborate because I don't want to piss my mom off)

    - Why choose to do a comedy when Malaysian indie cinema's mostly known for the minimalistic stuff.

    (I just find the whole situation rather funny. And because it is somewhat autobiographical, I tried to capture the whimsicality of my relationship with my parents and family, which had a lot of laughter etc)

    Then there was me talking about censorship problems in Msia during the second day of the screening.

    Simon: Thanks, dude. Have to say that the version of Chicken Rice Mystery screened at the fest was quite different from the one on the BMW Shorties site though.

    Adee: They're all really unique, and diverse, due to the vastly different backgrounds and culture the filmmakers came from. I enjoyed and appreciated most of them for their uniqueness, I guess. (The full list of competitors under the AsiaAfrica Short Film category including myself were from: Philippines, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, China, Chad, Iran, Japan, India, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, Taiwan) Many of the shorts had already traveled in numerous film fests, a few of them had won awards too.

    But if you were wondering about the final results in Dubai Film Fest. The China short won the big one, the Chad short got the 2nd prize and the Kyrgyzstan short got the Special Jury Prize. :D

  6. Thanks for such a detailed reply, thought you would do a post with it. Sharing these things help broaden local film perspectives (though I'm technically not a film person). We are all 'enlightened' (from the light of your glowing badge lah, haha :)

  7. You're right, I should do a post with it.