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Showing posts from 2009

Happy 2010!

I'm now hanging out at Tsukui, new year has come, waiting for Maiko the Producer's mom to prepare some soba (apparently it is Japanese tradition to eat soba during new year!). 2009 had its ups and downs, but for me, they were mostly ups. Hopefully 2010 will be better, for me and you all!!!

EXHALATION shoot day 3

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Last night, I shot the remaining scenes for my new film EXHALATION. This is lead actress Kiki Sugino in her uniform (in the film she works in a Pachinko shop).

EXHALATION shoot day 2

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Early in the morning, when I returned to the location for the shoot of my new film, EXHALATION, it struck me that i was going through the last few days of 2009. It was rather apt that, in a year which I would consider a breakthrough for my filmmaking career, I would end it while making a film.

EXHALATION shoot day 1

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The 3-day shoot for my newest short film, EXHALATION, had just started. It's the biggest production I've ever taken (yes, even bigger than KINGYO). Some photos from the film shoot today. I have only 4 hours to sleep before I get up at 5am for day two of the shoot. The crew arrived at the location at 8:30am in the morning. Everyone started preparing.

Yakiniku Christmas Dinner

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I remembered last year's Christmas, it was a quiet one. I miscalculated that Ueno Park or Senso-ji Temple would be open for Christmas, but I was wrong . It was a peaceful but somewhat melancholic experience. I kinda assumed that the same would happen this year. Perhaps I would just head off to one of the cinemas and watch AVATAR alone, but something else came up, and all of a sudden, I found myself at a Yakiniku restaurant called Buchi, in Shibuya.

LOVE SUICIDES picked up Best Director award at China Mobile Film Festival 2009

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(I've announced this on Twitter and Facebook a few days ago, but haven't actually done it here, so here you go...) Just to share some good news. I picked up the Best Director Award for my short film LOVE SUICIDES at last week's China Mobile Film Festival in Shenzhen.

KINGYO reunion party

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Yes, it's Christmas, but let me post some long overdue blog entries for now. The KINGYO team had a reunion party on the 15th of December, right after the CON-CAN Award Ceremony . Actually, it's more like a 'wrap party' instead of a 'reunion party'. Although we finished the shoot for KINGYO almost a year earlier (principal photography was done by the end of January 2009), none of us had the chance to really had a 'wrap party'. None of us were able to be at the same city at the same time, so it was great to finally have something like that. Here's part of the team. (from left to right: me, Kawamura-san who borrowed us his house for the shoot, still photographer Zhang Xiaolei, production assistant Seki, lead actress Luchino, production assistant An-chan, Lia the Artist/ Assistant director, Maiko the producer and Linto the post-production technician)

The CON-CAN Movie Festival Awards Ceremony and Ando Lab screening in Waseda

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Last month, the people of CON-CAN Movie Festival decided to hold an awards ceremony in Waseda University because, aside from me, another award winner Nishihara, was also a Waseda student.

The CON-CAN Movie Festival Screening in Keio University

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I just got back from Shenzhen, China, two nights ago. Was there a couple of days for the China Mobile Film Fest, was mortified to be reminded again that Facebook, Youtube, Blogspot and even Twitter were blocked, hence the lack of updates. I picked up an award from the festival, but I'll get back to that later. Last Monday (14th of December, 2009), I headed off to Keio University for a screening of FLEETING IMAGES (watch entire film here ) organized by the CON-CAN Movie Festival. My film, along with 3 of the award-winning films of the festival, were screened. But that night, only me and Monica Gallab of Belgium (Special Jury Prize winner for NICE DAY FOR A PICNIC, film embedded at the bottom of the post) were present for the event. This is Yumi the Photographer, she studied French literature.

My return to the ruins of Sun Hills Hotel and Fujino

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Back in May, I explored the ruins at Sagamihara. It was an unforgettable adventure that stayed with me, so I decided to return to the ruins of Sun Hills Hotel again, for location scouting.

I don't think my handwriting is THAT ugly

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Another sleepless night. I developed an outline for my new film two nights ago. Yesterday evening, I tried to come up with a rough film treatment. (it's typically the step before the first draft of a screenplay) Maiko and Kong, along with An-chan, were having discussions about Kong's new short film, which was scheduled for shooting this month. Me, knowing that it was a rare moment where I could concentrate without having any other distractions, took some papers and started scribbling some notes.

TOKYO FILMeX 2009, Sell Out! director Yeo Joon Han's Q and A session.

I felt a sense of nationalistic pride when I went to catch SELL OUT! at TOKYO FILMeX on the 24th, last month. Took me quite a while to finally catch the film since I wasn't around during the film's local theatrical release in Malaysia couple of months ago. I enjoyed the film, though I liked the satirical, comedic parts more than the musical parts. SELL OUT! Lead actress Jerrica Lai, who had a great voice and was awesome in the film, would later give another wonderful performance at the stunning WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER, produced by, well, me.

Difficult to sleep because of another new project

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I've been having problems sleeping again. The past week when my family were around, I had my most normal sleeping schedule in MONTHS. Sleeping around 1am, waking up around 8-9am, it was healthy. After finishing my latest THE WHITE FLOWER (I now have the film in screener DVDs, but there will still be some minor tweaks here and there before it really premieres), its month-long post-production leading to some of the craziest, most irregular sleeping time for myself (I would take a brief nap from 11pm to 1-2am, wake up, orchestrate net meetings with Niklas the cinematographer and Woan Foong the composer, getting materials for them to continue the progress of the film, and then updating them by uploading some footage online for them to view etc.) I started having breakfast before I sleep at around 9-10am. still from THE WHITE FLOWER The best thing is that I get to skip lunch (which isn't served for free in my dorm, haha) since I often sleep through the noon and wake up around

The Eibunren Awards Ceremony 2009

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I went to the Eibunren Awards Ceremony yesterday morning with my family (who came to Tokyo for a 1-week visit). As I've mentioned before , KINGYO had won two awards, the Semi-Grand Prix and the Best New Creator award. The Eibunren Awards is organized by the Japanese Ministry of Culture and the Japanese Association of Audiovisual Producers usually to honour documentaries or other videos dealing with sociopolitical or ecological issues. KINGYO is the first ever independent narrative short film to receive a major award from them, so they gave me the new individual award called the New Creator award.

"Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence" in Wakeijuku

A few things had happened. I completed my new short film, THE WHITE FLOWER, I saw a few films at TOKYO FILMeX too (will try to write about them), parents + sister had also arrived in Tokyo for a visit (and also to attend the Eibunren Awards Ceremony on the 2nd of December). I also intend to throw myself into my 7th short film of the year. I just need to conjure myself a script. More about that later, I hope. I live in Wakeijuku dorm, that's the dorm Haruki Murakami lived in. The place had prided itself as the place where Norwegian Woods was based on. My feelings towards the place is a stormy one. But then, it IS situated at a pretty good location, and food and electricity are included in my not-too-unreasonable monthly rental fees. Two nights ago, at the lounge of my building, there was this performance. Too bad I don't get that everyday.

Finishing up THE WHITE FLOWER

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25th to 26th of November. That was the deadline I gave myself to finish my latest film THE WHITE FLOWER. Since KINGYO, I haven't had a film that had such a long post-production, and to think that KINGYO was only 6 months ago. So I've reached the final stages of tweaking the film before doing my first batch of preview screeners for the film.

TOKYO FILMeX 2009, Tsai Ming Liang and the opening film 'Visage'

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I had a lot of fun in last year's TOKYO FILMeX film festival. (can read about all my blog posts here , til this very day, my review of Sono Sion's LOVE EXPOSURE is still one of the most-read posts in this blog), so I definitely had to come this year. And this time, I even have a pass! So yup, the opening ceremony was held yesterday evening, at 5:30pm (it's currently 3:20am as I'm writing this). Here are this year's jury members.

Me, kingyo, Eibunren Awards wins, mentioned in Uni Press newsletter

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I have blamed my recent sleeping problems on work (the heavily intense post-production of my short film THE WHITE FLOWER), I've even constantly tweeted (+facebook status update) about it. But moments ago, a guzheng-playing Twitter friend Seren Koo replied to me by suggesting that writing down my ideas and what I want to do would liberate thoughts from my mind, and thus making it easier to sleep. I realized that my lack of sleep seems to correlate with my lack of blog updates. Many times, writing a blog post at night for me can be quite (mentally) exhausting (despite said post being deceptively mindless!), and I can just drift off to sleep after that. Thus I will start writing something long, and insightful and mentally taxing just so I can exhaust myself enough to sleep. Alas, the blog post you're reading now is probably not one of them.

Wrapping up my Pusan Film Festival 2009 experience (part 2)

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Oh, it seems that I only have 3 photos and two videos that I haven't uploaded from last month's Pusan Film Fest, so I'll do it now. 12th of October, 2009. Last night in Busan (I realized that I've been making a mistake by repeatedly referring to the place as 'Pusan' instead of 'Busan' when the city's official name has long been changed to the latter). There was a Wide Angle party. The Wide Angle program of the Pusan Film Festival includes the documentary and short film competitions. This is Kirsten Tan, Singaporean filmmaker currently based in New York. She had a short film in competition.

Wrapping up my Pusan Film Festival 2009 experience (part 1)

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The post-production of THE WHITE FLOWER had seriously made me insomniac (or gave me messed up sleep patterns), so aside from being able to catch a nap from 1 to 3am, I've been widely awake since then. So I decided to try to unload the remainder of photos from last month's trip at the Pusan Film Festival. I think I'll finish everything in two posts. After the screening of WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER , the rest of my days in Pusan were spent on attending functions, parties, meeting people, looking around the Asian Film Market, trying to see a film but missing it in the end (I ended up only seeing MUNDANE HISTORY at the festival, just one film in a festival! A personal low).

17th of November. Mom's Birthday.

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It's 5am now. I'm supposed to wake up in 2 hours to go for an early (press?) screening of ZERO FOCUS at Shinjuku Wald 9. But then, it's my mom's birthday, and for two consecutive years, I've always made an issue out of it on this blog (read my 2007 and 2008 blog post). This year will not be an exception, since I won't be able to dig out some lost videos of my mom floating around on the Internet like I did last year, I'll share some anecdotes with you all.

Deciding upon the music for THE WHITE FLOWER

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Today's my mom's birthday. Happy birthday, mom. But I'll get to that later. I am still knee deep in the post-production of my new film THE WHITE FLOWER, which I'm trying to complete by end of this month.

KINGYO receives two awards at Eibunren Awards

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I actually knew about this back in September, when I was in Singapore for the Singapore Short Film Festival. Maiko the Producer called me then to tell about the good news, but since the awards ceremony is in December, I didn't think there was any need to announce this earlier. But since I've already announced about FLEETING IMAGES winning the Grand Prix at the CON-CAN Movie Festival , I'll make a mention of this as well. So yes, my Japanese short film KINGYO had picked up two awards from Japan's Eibunren Awards: The Semi-Grand Prix (or Silver Grand Prix) and Best New Creator (also occasionally referred to as the Best New Director award) awards. Organized by the Japanese Ministry of Culture and the Japanese Association of Audiovisual Producers, I was told that this is the first time an independent narrative short film had ever received a major award from the association. And in order to commemorate this, I became their first ever recipient of the Best New Creator a

Wayne Wang's film adaptation of Yiyun Li's A THOUSAND YEARS OF GOOD PRAYERS

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Caught a free screening of A THOUSAND YEAR OF GOOD PRAYERS in uni yesterday evening (a day before it opens in Japanese theaters, check out Kaori Shoji's review on Japan Times). Went because I read Yiyun Li's anthology of short stories of the same name just a couple of weeks earlier (which I really enjoyed).

Waseda Weekly Magazine (12th of November, 2009)

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There's a profile of Maiko the Producer and I on Waseda Weekly magazine that came out today (actually, yesterday, since it's 2am now).

My short film FLEETING IMAGES wins Grand Prix at Japan's CON-CAN Movie Festival

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I received a phone call yesterday morning from the CON-CAN Movie Festival . They told me that my experimental short, FLEETING IMAGES, had won the Grand Prix.

Waseda Festival 2009

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I realized that last year, around this time, I was in Malaysia (for a brief trip to Rome and the Rome Film Festival ), so I missed out the Waseda Festival. I didn't even know about the Waseda Festival, which was held last weekend until I saw people setting up on Friday (as I was on my way to my lab to record Zhu Dan's guzheng performance ).

Cute kittens

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Saw these outside my editing lab in the evening just now.

Zhu Dan touches her... Guzheng

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It's strange how quickly a week had just flown by like that. It happens all the time when I'm in post-production for a film. Each day just goes by in a blur, and I myself lose the concept of day and night, for the past few nights I had spent sleepless nights in the editing lab for my new short film THE WHITE FLOWER. I usually go home around 6am, sometimes I get to eat breakfast, and then sleep at around 8am, then waking up at 12pm, and then going back to work again. THE WHITE FLOWER is a challenging film because, aside from it being constructed almost entirely with still photos (which is a nightmare to edit by itself), I myself still have to various sound jobs. Recording voiceover narrations from the three main characters, recording sound effects, downloading sound effects, discussing with my two primary collaborators, Niklas (the cinematographer) and Woan Foong (the composer) about what I need for the film through the net (Niklas is in Finland, Woan Foong is in US), because

Zhu Dan touches herself... er, wait....

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Sorry, I just couldn't resist the blog post title. Last night was Halloween. I remained rooted in the editing lab, editing my new film THE WHITE FLOWER. Which, in case you don't know, starred my friends Zhu Dan and Kong.

My acceptance speech for WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER's Cinemanila International Film Fest special mention

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Woman On Fire Looks For Water This happened a few days ago, WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER (feature film directed by Woo Ming Jin, produced and edited by me) received a special mention at the Cinemanila International Film Festival under the Southeast Asian Competition. This year's a particularly strong year for Malaysia, the best Southeast Asian film went to the late Yasmin Ahmad's Talentime and the best short film went to Focal Point, a Malaysian short film by Iranian filmmakers Alireza Khatami and Ali Seifourri.

Fireworks at Haeundae Beach at night

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(What a clunky blog post title) Argh, here lies the problem with my blogging these days. Because I do it so erratically, I have to struggle to remember things. The past few days was a blur. Attending the Tokyo Film Fest, and also editing my film. Heck, it's been nearly 2 weeks since I've gotten back to Tokyo. 10th of October, a day after the Johnnie To Master Class , WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER world premiere , and Pen-ek teaching me how to roll a tobacco , I went through a less eventful day.

Tortoise

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No, this isn't about the (great) band.

Trailer of KINGYO

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I never really thought of cutting a trailer for KINGYO, I had always thought it would be silly to slap together a trailer for a short film, that's why I merely allowed a preview of the film's first 90 seconds in its official site .

KINGYO screening tonight at the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival 2009

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Don't think I've mentioned this before, but there's a screening of KINGYO tonight (and the 23rd) at the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival as part of the Asian Shorts 3 program. You can read about it here .

Thai director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang teaches how to roll a tobacco

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After the WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER world premiere at the Pusan Film Festival, there was a lavish Malaysian party that I didn't take any pictures of because I was, ah, too busy. But there was a nice tribute to Yasmin Ahmad where hundreds of white balloons were released into the air, and as they drifted into the distant night sky, they seemed as if they had formed together to become some of galaxy. Really nice. After that, I went to a Korean Izakaya, where Malaysian directors and Thai directors were fraternizing.

SCREEN DAILY review of WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER

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By Darcy Paquet. Broken hearts across multiple generations make for engaging viewing in Malaysian independent film Woman on Fire Looks for Water by Woo Ming-jin. Set in a small fishing village, the work’s striking visuals and subtle dramatic touches carry the mark of a significant talent. The setting proves to be an effective backdrop for the feelings of longing and regret that make up the main narrative. Premiering officially in Pusan (after a ‘work in progress’ show at Venice), this is undoubtedly set for further festival exposure, enhancing Woo’s reputation as an up-and-coming Asian auteur. Commercial potential for this low budget work will probably be limited to small deals within Asia, however .

KINGYO screening at Unicus Cinemas, and some THE WHITE FLOWER update

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I went to Honjo at Saitama yesterday for a KINGYO screening at the Unicus Cinema (it's a multiplex in a shopping mall called Unicus). I think it was for the opening event of their inaugural Honjo Kodama Area Film Festival. Both my film, and a Chinese-Japanese co-produced documentary (also from the lab I'm), Shaolin Kungfu, were there. My friends, Yang Yang and Zifeng, were the editors of that film. This is me in Professor Ando's (executive producer of KINGYO) car, heading to the multiplex, with Maiko, Zifeng and Yang Yang.

WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER official world premiere in Pusan International Film Festival 2009

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After the Johnnie To Master Class , I headed back to my hotel room and changed into the new suit I bought in Tokyo just days before I went to Pusan. Then immediately I went to the multiplex in Centum City where the screening was to be held. I needed to kill some time, so I went to have a look at the Shinsengae Gallery, where numerous beautiful photos of famous Korean actors and actresses were in display.

Attending HK auteur Johnnie To's Master Class In PIFF 2009

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Johnnie To has long been one of my heroes. Of course, in truth I grew up watching his films from his studio days, ALL ABOUT AH LONG was one of the most painful films I ever seen as a child, I was traumatized when I saw what Chow Yun-Fat's Ah Long character endured during the climatic motorbike race. Then there was the funny EIGHT HAPPINESS, an ensemble film in the vein of ALL'S WELL ENDS WELL (comedies that revolve around members of a single family), this year's ALL'S WELL ENDS WELL 2009 cemented my realization that they don't make films like them anymore. Then there was also some of Stephen Chow's biggest comedies in the early 90s, like JUSTICE MY FOOT, or the HEROIC TRIO (and its much darker sequel THE EXECUTIONERS) starring Anita Mui, Michelle Yeoh and Maggie Cheung, I miss the vibrant energy of such films. Then Johnnie To started his Milkyway company in the mid 90s, directing landmark films like THE MISSION, PTU, ELECTION 1 and 2 etc. At the same time, he

Opening Night Party at Pusan International Film Festival 2009

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Due to limited internet connection at Pusan, I could only check my emails in one of those public computers at the PIFF center. But now that I'm back in Tokyo, I'll start posting photos I took from the festival. On the 8th of October, Tokyo was hit by typhoon in the morning, classes in university were canceled, some flights were rescheduled, ditto with other public transportation too. My flight was supposedly at 7pm. I headed out of my place at 2pm. To go to the airport. A Narita express would've reached the place in 80-90 minutes, alas all Narita Express trains were canceled that day, so I could only take a longer (but much cheaper) route there. I won't go into details, but I reached the airport at 6pm. The journey to Narita, often a pain in the ass, was an even bigger pain in the ass. I was shocked to find out that the plane was scheduled to 6:30pm. Only half an hour to go? I rushed to the check-in counter, there was someone else who was going to Pusan too.

What on earth do people do at film festivals? (Cinema Online, 6th of October 2009)

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I'm flying off to Pusan this evening for the Pusan Film Festival. Tomorrow I'll be attending the premiere of WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER, the film I produced and edited. This is an interview I did with Zee of Cinema Online during my last day at the Venice Film Festival.

Girl group Citrus Kiss performing at Shinjuku

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As you all know, I have a certain fascination for street performers, especially in Japan. I like the fact that people perform here free from the silly notion that they were 'begging for money'. On Sunday, as I was heading to the Uniqlo at the Shinjuku Pepe building, I saw a performance that someone who was with me at the time remarked "belonged to Akihabara" due to the cosplay. Nonetheless, I don't see bands like this much in Shinjuku, so I had to film it.

Meeting Singer Loo Yise at Klang Creative Fest 2009

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Two months ago, I have mentioned briefly that I was attending the Klang Creative Fest , which was showing a couple of my short films. Despite taking a couple of videos and photos, I was unable to share them much because of the horrible internet connection at home in Malaysia. Nonetheless, I did mention about the genius kids there who made me feel puny . During my short film screening sessions, the Malaysian singer Loo Yise was around to watch the first two films, CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY and (my rarely seen experimental video) FLEETING IMAGES. My schoolmate, multitalented singer-songwriter Jasemaine Gan was there too. Alas both had to leave early to prepare for their performances.

Tsukiji's fresh sushi and nocturnal trip to Odaiba

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Yesterday (October 3) was the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Mooncake Festival. It was also friend, Yuan Yue's birthday. (also known as Lune, back in 2005 we had a sublime artistic collaboration where she would draw illustrations and I would write stories based on them, it ended up as a novella written in 24 hours, you can still check it out here . By the way, it was also occasional ex-guestblogger Justin's birthday). She had been visiting Japan since the 22nd of September (we came to Tokyo on the same flight, through a serendipitous stroke of coincidence). She wanted to try out the fresh sushi at the Tsukiji Fish Market, so we went in the morning. (But when I said morning, I meant the relatively-late 10:30am, not the 5-6ish am when they hold the fish auctions, we only wanted to eat fish, not buy them) As we walked past shops after shops, we found it hard to pick one to eat. Until we saw a crowd gathering in front of one, and an old man having a public demonstratio

How KINGYO actress Luchino Fujisaki took Venice Film Fest by storm

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UPDATED 13th Nov, 2016: This is my short film Kingyo, in its entirety Despite enduring some of the worst crises in recent memory (the untimely demises of two hard disks in mere weeks, losing some raw data of my short films, even the new, unreleased ones like AFTERNOON RIVER), I have SURVIVED (re-edited AFTERNOON RIVER from scratch, now in the midst of completing my newest, EVENING SKY). So of course I'm in a better mood, though I'm still disconnected from the rest of the world to get my things done. I will now continue my recount of the Venice Film Festival.

The KINGYO screening at the Venice Film Festival

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Lots of distractions had occurred in the past two days. My hard disk died suddenly, and I lost a couple of short films I made since KINGYO (as in, AFTERNOON RIVER, 3PM, and bits and pieces of EVENING SKY that I've just edited). Since my backup had already died couple of weeks earlier, I've pretty much lost two hard disks in a space of two weeks. Can't exactly say that I'm in the best of moods, but I will be hiding at home re-editing AFTERNOON RIVER (with its DVD as reference), familiarizing myself with Adobe Premiere Pro again. I wanted to weep but my eyes had gone too dry. So I'll recount the KINGYO screening at the Venice Film Festival back on the 7th of September. Wow, has it been 18 days already?

My newest short film EVENING SKY is a pseudo-sequel of SLOVAK SLING and AFTERNOON RIVER

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It all started as a joke. I was on MSN talking to my regular cinematographer Lesly (he shot all my Malaysian short films like CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY, LOVE SUICIDES and the still-unreleased AFTERNOON RIVER) just days before I flew off to the Venice Film Festival. We were discussing the possibilities of shooting another short film after Venice, and before I return to Tokyo (on the 22nd of September, I came back to Tokyo yesterday). I thought it would be difficult, since, after Venice, I would have to rush off to the Singapore Short Film Festival , and after I return from Singapore on the 20th of September, I would only have ONE DAY before flying off to Tokyo again. Lesly said that one day's doable, considering that AFTERNOON RIVER was made under similar circumstances (shot that on the 11th of April, also one day before returning to Tokyo). So I was like "sure, we can make an AFTERNOON RIVER sequel or something, or a spin-off, like following the point of view of the guy who

My experimental video FLEETING IMAGES premieres simultaneously at Singapore Short Film Festival and CON-CAN Movie Festival

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I never really expected this to happen, but the experimental video I assembled last year, FLEETING IMAGES, is finally making its international premiere simultaneously at two film festivals on the 18th of September. One is the 5th Singapore Short Film Festival (where it's selected for competition ), the other is the Tokyo-based online film festival, CON-CAN Movie Festival .

LOVE SUICIDES competing at the Split International Film Festival... today

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There are actually five different film festivals playing my short films this month, now that Venice Film Fest is over, there are still four more. At this very moment, my short, LOVE SUICIDES, is supposed to be playing at the Split International Film Festival in Croatia, where it was selected for competition. Hopefully the screening will go on smoothly. Suddenly felt that I should have gone straight to Croatia from Venice to attend this festival. Never thought of it earlier. However, I will be going to the Singapore Short Film Fest over the weekend. Would be nice to see some old friends again. Or hearing the voices of old friends telling me they're too busy to meet me.

Venetian waters

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Actually, I didn't take that many photos of Venice compared to the others in my group. I was too, ah, busy. Nonetheless, I have taken some videos, and for this post, I will share with you photos and videos of the Venetian waters. Frankly, unlike my team, I never really had the time to explore Venice much as I was in the festival most of the time, doing interviews with the Japanese press. The film festival is held on the Lido, which is a separate island. I relished the small moments when I got to see some parts of Venice, parts of something so much bigger. When I return again, I will definitely explore more. But I'll start with a photo of the Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, which we stopped by on our way to Venice.

ANG LEE!!!!!!!

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Just reached Tokyo. Only staying for a night. Flying back to Malaysia tomorrow morning. Next stop, Singapore Short Film Festival, where my little-seen experimental video FLEETING IMAGES is competing. 11th of September. Didn't go anywhere during my last day at the Venice Film Festival. Wanted to explore Venice with the rest of the KINGYO team, but there were screenings to go to, things to settle, people to talk to, so I ended up staying in the festival instead. The last film screening I went to was THE HOLE, because it's not everyday you get to see a 3D film in a film festival, let alone the Venice Film Festival. I won't comment much on the film itself, but before the film started, I was already excited because I spotted Ang Lee.

Venice Premiere (The Star, 9th of September 2009)

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Internet access is limited (I only get it at the film festival place, not my hotel), so haven't been giving people as many updates as I wanted. One more hour before the second KINGYO screening in Venice. My two actresses, Luchino Fujisaki and Amane Kudo had just arrived last night, so they'll be present for today's screening. Hope the reception will be as warm as the one I got two nights ago. I'm on THE STAR today as well, in an article written by Allan Koay. I like the photo of myself because I didn't look fat. (it helped that it was a self-portrait)

Arriving at the Venice Film Festival

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Yup, I'm in Venice now. Screening of Kingyo is only 5 hours away. I'm a little excited. Took a lot of videos yesterday, but alas, not that many photos. Will post videos when I return to Tokyo. Here are some photos of me, Maiko the Producer and Rinto the Technical Producer / Postproduction Technician in the water taxi from the airport to Venice's Lido, where the film festival is held.

Off to Venice! Here's a cute baby!

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I'm heading off to the airport this evening. It's a 7pm flight, but I'll be busy packing and buying stuff I need, so doubt I'll be updating the blog until I reach Venice. Here's a cute baby girl I met last Saturday, she seemed to be a major computer fan when I was in a restaurant, and I noticed her peering over my shoulder at the Macbook i was borrowing from Sebastian to do some video editing. Of course, like any normal manly men, seeing such a cute baby immediately made me squeal "eeeeeee, soooo cute!", so I took out my camera and snapped photos of her. I would like to thank the baby's dad for asking her to smile for the photo shoot.

Sneak preview: kingyo's opening scenes

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One more day before I head off to Venice. Here's a sneak preview of the opening scenes from my short film, KINGYO.

Food Porn at BE. SWEET ON.

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Yes, it's National Day. Merdeka. Merdeka. But I'll talk about that later. For now I would like to talk about this BE. SWEET ON. dessert shop I visited on my last night at Seoul. Despite having returned from Seoul for a week, I am haunted by memories of its sublime dessert.

Visiting Namdaemun Market and Insadong on my last day in Seoul

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22nd of August. Saturday. My last day in Seoul. Decided to do some sightseeing instead of catching some films at CINDI. The first place I went to was the Namdaemun market , which reminded me of Petaling Street.

Cinema Digital Seoul Film Festival 2009 party (... or one of them)

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One more day left in Seoul. Yesterday was my last day in KOFIC lab. Mr. Oh has finished the colour correction and we also got ourselves some nifty end credits too. Once I return to Malaysia tomorrow, Ming Jin will be working on the sound mixing with Soundwave, then the film transfer. Too bad I won't be able to see all those. But I'll be excited to see WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER having its world premiere at October's Pusan International Film Festival in glorious 35mm. *sob*

An Interview with Justin Isis

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Justin Isis lacks abdominal definition For me, literature should be as exciting and energising as pop music. I am now 37 years of age, and of a generation for whom pop music was both a personal journey of discovery and something that has always been there. I suppose that for those younger than me, at least the 'has always been there' part of this description must hold, if not all of it. It has been a source of puzzlement to me, therefore, that the sensibility of pop music – all that is best about it in spontaneity, daring and role-play – somehow has not managed to permeate the world of literature. I don't mean this in any superficial sense, that authors should all start wearing shades and writing in American hipster slang (by golly!). No, literature need not relinquish any intellectual depth by learning from pop music – it can even gain some. Because, for me, interests in literature and pop music were equivalent and intertwined, when I first started having work pub

大馬新晉導演殺進威尼斯影展 (China Press, 18/8/2009)

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Here's an article from China Press. Didn't get to scan it, but link to original article is here . During the phone interview I was asked whether I was representing Japan at the festival, since Kingyo's a Japanese production, but I actually listed the film as a Japanese-Malaysian co-production. Rest of the blog post will be written in Chinese again. 哈罗, 我是杨毅恒。 今天和大家分享来自中国报的访问报道。

《金鱼》入围威尼斯影展短片单元。 杨毅恒: “像到了‘神坛’” (Sin Chew Daily, 15/8/2009)

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I was on Sin Chew Daily last Saturday, didn't know about it until some friends told me via Facebook. The article, which was about KINGYO going to next month's Venice Film Festival , is entirely in Chinese. But I was quoted as saying that "a friend of mine mentioned that going to Venice is like going to a 'Pantheon'." (actually I was quoting an interview article I read from my friend, Singaporean filmmaker Eva Tang 邓宝翠 " (in 2002, she was the first Singaporean filmmaker in history to get her short film into Venice Film Festival, we met in at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year) I'll include the entire article below. (The rest of this blog post will be written in Chinese...) 嗯, 大家好, 我就是杨毅恒。 这部落平时是用英文来写的, (因为自己的中文文笔蛮乱七八糟的)。 但是既然在下的短片“金鱼”入围威尼斯短片单元这好消息是中文报纸刊登的, 我就用中文来跟会对中文的读者们打个招呼以及分享这文章吧。 (这文章好像是上个星期六刊登的。 )

Demonstration in front of Hongik University on Korean Liberation Day

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Went to the Hongdae area again yesterday for the Seoul Fringe Festival . I'll post up videos of some of the nicer singing performances I saw when I return from Seoul (Youtube has disabled commenting and video uploading for Korean users). It was the Korean Liberation Day, and I thought I saw a demonstration in front of the Hongik University. In this video, you'll see me posing handsomely around the 40-second mark.

Colour grading WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER and exploring Samcheong-dong

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Third day in Seoul. Finally began work on the colour grading of WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER in the Digital Intermediate Lab in KOFIC. Here's Ming Jin and I 'posing' with our main actor Chung Kok Keong in the lab.

KOFIC Tour, Korean BBQ and the awesome Hongdae area

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Yesterday was my second day in Seoul. I managed to eat some delicious Korean BBQ for dinner.

My short film, KINGYO goes to the 66th Venice Film Festival

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Rukino Fujisaki and Takao Kawaguchi in KINGYO I knew about this a few days ago, but now the line-up's for the Corto Cortissimo (international competition of short films) of the 66th Venice Film Festival is officially out, I can finally announce it myself too. My short film, KINGYO, will be making its world premiere at the 66th Venice Film Festival next month. To be in the oldest and one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world is an honour beyond my wildest dreams. Of course, this would never have happened without the cast and crew of KINGYO, thanks, guys. Some of us will be going to Venice.

Arriving at Seoul

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Reached Seoul this morning. Took a bus to the service apartment booked for us. Then headed off to the Kofic (Korean Film Commission) offices at 1pm. It was raining. That's the Nandaemun, located in the heart of Seoul.

Heading to Seoul for WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER post-production

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I was sifting through the photos I took with my old camera when I found a number of production photos from WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER, a feature-length film I produced earlier this year. The film's written and directed by Woo Ming Jin. This film, financed by the Asian Cinema Fund and the Hubert Bals Fund, was shot back in March at Kuala Selangor, and after returning to Malaysia last Monday, I've spent quite a number of days finalizing its edit with Ming Jin. We will be bringing the entire film to Korea tonight for the final stages of its post-production, like colour correction and film transfer. The film shoot lasted for nearly two weeks, and because it was quite hectic, I didn't really snap any photos most of the time.

Genius kids make me feel puny

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Sorry for the lack of updates since I came back to Malaysia, been really busy with stuff. And I feel demotivated since internet connection here's light ears slower than the one I had in Tokyo, have difficulties uploading photos, let alone videos! Anyway, I was at the first day of the Klang Creative Fest 2009 yesterday because there was a screening of a couple of films I was involved in, like KURUS and THE ELEPHANT AND THE SEA, and after that I presented my short films, CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY (which just got invited to next month's Calgary Film Festival, I'm surprised it still has festival life!) my little-seen experimental video essay FLEETING IMAGES (I decided to take it out cos it got invited for competition at next month's Singapore Short Film Festival), LOVE SUICIDES (gonna be in competition at next month's Split International Film Fest in Croatia) and then AFTERNOON RIVER, which was shot in Klang back in April and was really commissioned for the Creative Fest.

Presenting my short films on 8th of August (Saturday)

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I'm presenting three of my short films at the KLANG CREATIVE FEST, held in Klang Centro ( map ) on the 8th of August, 4:30pm. (exactly a year after the opening of the Beijing Olympics 2008 :D ) The first one will be the comedy, CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY, which won an Honourable Mention award and a Best Acting award (for lead actress Kimmy) in the BMW Shorties 2008 before screening at the Dubai and Naoussa Film Festivals (Greece).

Some stills from my new short film THE WHITE FLOWER

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The shoot for THE WHITE FLOWER ended around 12:30am this morning. I borrowed my friend Zhi Feng's house for the shoot. Everything was so hectic that I forgot to whip out my own camera until we were about to finish things.

Rest in peace, Ah Teong

The second day of the The White Flower shoot went on smoothly. I managed to wrap things up half past midnight. I will write about that later. I came home just now and received a MSN message from my dad that Uncle Martin, the husband of my dad's sister (I called him 'Ah Teong', which was from the Teochew dialect), had just passed away this morning from cancer.

THE WHITE FLOWER shoot - Day 1

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The cast and crew of THE WHITE FLOWER on top of the Futtsu Viewpoint structure. From left to right: Niklas the cinematographer, Zhu Dan the actress, me, Toro Inamura the actor, Kong the assistant director/ reluctant actor 31st of July. Principal photography for my short film, THE WHITE FLOWER (mentioned in my previous post ) began.

Preparing a new short film, THE WHITE FLOWER

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(Photo by Martha K ) I'm flying back to Malaysia next Monday (3rd of August), and thus ends the dream-like 3rd session of my stay in Japan. Long have my Finnish friend Niklas and I have spoken about working on a project together, in fact, when we went to explore the abandoned ruins in Sagamiko back in May, our true intention was location scouting.

Rest in peace, Yasmin Ahmad

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(photo from Yasmin's flickr account ) Yasmin Ahmad has passed away.

Quick thoughts on BMW Shorties 2009's finalists

(UPDATED 26th of July, 2009: Yasmin Ahmad has passed away. Rest in peace.) I received a DVD of this year's BMW Shorties finalists two days ago because I was asked to voice my thoughts on the films. I watched them yesterday evening and gave BMW Shorties' Seet Heng some brief commentary, the original entry is posted here on the BMW Shorties website.

The shotgun-carrying Chinese lady... acts

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Two weeks ago I wrote about how I helped Zhu Dan, the shotgun-wielding Chinese lady , secure an acting role in a short film by my Thai friend Kong. (who will be adapting a short story by occasional Guestblogger Justin later this year, produced by my KINGYO producing partner Maiko, with the help of some of my crew members as well) Yesterday afternoon, Kong, who is now editing his film, needed to do some re-shoots of some scenes with Zhu Dan, thus they managed to re-enact the exact same shots from last month. Yes, the photo above, and the videos below, are shot a little more than a month apart (photo above taken on the 20th of June 2009, videos below taken on the 22nd of July 2009). Bet you can't see any differences at all!

LOVE SUICIDES in competition at the Festival Internazionale del Cinema d'Arte

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I've never mentioned this earlier because their website is only in Italian and I wasn't sure about the details. But I was emailed earlier that LOVE SUICIDES will be screening at the Festival Internazionale del Cinema d'Arte in Bergamo, Italy today. The film is one of the 18 short films around the world selected for competition under the Sottoventi category (PDF of the entire line-up ). Once again, I'm honoured. I hope the screening will go well! LOVE SUICIDES will also be screening at some other European festivals over the next few months, you'll be hearing about it here.

Visiting Tokyo DisneySea

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I had slightly more than 2 hours of sleep before I woke up at 5:30 in the morning and prepared for my first ever trip to Tokyo DisneySea. Prior to the opening of the Hong Kong Disneyland, I always felt childishly gleeful that I could brag about having visited every single Disney theme park in the world:

Cure Rubbish, band name or manifesto?

When I walked past the NHK Broadcasting Centerbuilding at Shibuya last Wednesday night, I saw a band setting up for a performance. There was a sign next to them, and the words 'CURE RUBBISH'.

I was a dino dork

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The first time I went to Ueno Park was last November, when autumn's touch had infused upon it the colours of red and gold. (Not to be narcissistic, but I did take some bloody good photos that time) What left the most impression then were the wilted lotuses at the Lotus Pond (part of the Shinobazu Pond).

She must've felt out of place watching The Galaxy Girls Club

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Last Saturday, when I went off to Akihabara to buy some blank DVDs, I happened upon a live event at the Live Park in Akiba (which, to the uninitiated, is not a real park, but the first floor of the Sato Musen electric store, opened earlier this year for numerous mini-concerts and live events, I heard mostly to convince authorities to reopen Akihabara's 'Pedestrian's Paradise' that had been closed since last year's Akihabara Massacre )

Mitama Matsuri at Yasukuni Shrine 2009

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(UPDATE: Check out the photos and videos of MITAMA MATSURI 2010 too if you like this post) I went to the Mitama Matsuri (Soul Festival) at the Yasukuni Shrine yesterday. It is a festival that honours the dead.

Sichuan Hot Pot... in a rice cooker

Last night was the last night of Steve's visit in Tokyo. My friends from China, Yang Yang and Zifeng invited both of us to have the much famous Sichuan (or Szechuan) "ma la" (numb and spicy) hot pot over at Zifeng's place. The meal was prepared by the chick, Echo (or Ecco, not sure), who's from Chengdu, Sichuan. Great meal!

Hozuki Ichii (Ground Cherry Pod Fair) at Senso-ji 2009

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The last time I went to Senso-ji at Asakusa was nearly two months ago, for the Sanja Matsuri (check out the breathlessly evocative photos I've taken of the festival here ). When I went there again yesterday, they were having the Hozuki Ichi (Ground Cherry Pod Fair), in which hundreds of street stalls were set up to sell ground cherry pods and wind chimes.

The BEAUTIFIED TABOO art exhibition

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I brought Steven to the BEAUTIFIED TABOO art exhibition at SuperDeluxe in Roppongi last night. The BEAUTIFIED TABOO, in its second year, is the brainchild of Tokyo-based German/Vietnamese artist Vivienne U.H. Doan . Let me quote its origins from a Japan Times article . (The BEAUTIFIED TABOO) is an exhibition showcasing works by some of Tokyo's better-known experimental and international artists that attempts to investigate, as well as beautify, taboos. Doan got the idea when she started to question both Japanese and foreign people on what they felt was taboo. Intrigued by the variety of answers and feelings she encountered, she took the ideas and "beautified" them, adding an artist's perspective to socially explosive concepts. Naturally, ideas relating to the human body, sex, violence and death are well represented. Here's a list of the featured artists for this year's exhibition:

Wannabe artistic shots of Hachiko statue

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I've written about the sad and tragic tale of Faithful Dog Hachiko last year. The Hachiko movie starring Richard Gere is also coming out next month, (But I'm not sure whether to see it since... I already knew that Richard Gere's going to die in it :(:(:( ) Now armed with a new camera, I decided to take some artsy shots of its statue.

Summer Fair of Zoshigaya Kishibojin Temple

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Yesterday, before I was about to break Steven's mind by bringing him to Harajuku and Shibuya (photos will come in next post), we dropped by at the Zoshigaya Kishibojin Temple for its summer fair.

Mutsumi the late-night singer

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It was already around 11pm when I was heading home after taking all these photos of Shinjuku from the previous post . But as I walked out of the Shinjuku South East exit, I found a young woman sitting on the floor, preparing to perform. A scattered few were gathered before her. She was the one and only musician I saw last night.

The view of Shinjuku twilight from the top of Takashimaya

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Despite having gone countless times to the Takashimaya in Shinjuku, I have never really bothered to go to the top few floors because I thought there aren't anything there but restaurants. So when an acquaintance from Malaysia came and I was showing him around, we went up and I was surprised by what I saw. There was a nice garden for people to take walks.

Visiting the old lighthouse at Miura Kaigan

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Yesterday afternoon I headed off to Miura (a seaside city situated at Tokyo Bay) with dorm mate Tristan, to check out an old lighthouse. Along with Tristan were Pong, whom I met a day earlier when we went to see the Gundam statue , and Jack, whom I've never met prior to the trip.

Life-size Gundam in Odaiba and its adoring visitors

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After hearing so much about the life-size Gundam statue in Odaiba, I finally decided to visit it. It was the evening of the 4th of July, which is more than a week before its official unveiling. But already many have gathered over there to take photos of it.

The Chinese lady with a shotgun

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This is my friend, Zhu Dan, from China. She's really nice and friendly. But she's slightly intimidating because she carries a shotgun with her all the time.

Night cruise on the Himiko waterbus

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It seems that we have reached the second half of 2009. After completing '3PM', my third short film in six months yesterday afternoon, I can't help but feel a little wistful, a little melancholic, the familiar condition known as post-creativity depression is back. So despite having finished my film, I actually chose to remain in the editing lab, and finally at night, I took out snippets of videos I shot more than a week ago with my own camera and looked through them, just so I could edit them and give myself something to do. On the 20th of June, Lia the Artist told me and Niklas about the futuristic-looking waterbus " Himiko ", designed by famed Japanese animator Reiji (or Leiji) Matsumoto ("Captain Harlock", "Spaceship Yamato", "Galaxy Express 999").

Yakitori is yummy

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On Saturday night I went to a Yakitori restaurant at Shin-Okubu with Eric (my friend, not my dad). (Eric and I at the Shinjuku Station East Exit, before making our way to Shin-Okubo) And dammit, the food's so bloody good!

TRANSFORMERS 2 will be the biggest film in Malaysia

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On a lighter note, Sebastian had been pretty depressed about the unanimous love my beloved home country had for TRANSFORMERS 2.

Reflecting on Michael Jackson (1958-2009)

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When I woke up this morning and saw the news of Michael Jackson's death, I was quite affected by it. I grew up as a fan. As a child I listened to all the cassette tapes I had with me then, OFF THE WALL, THRILLER and BAD. I didn't know how it all started, I can't remember. The King of Pop then was at the pinnacle of his popularity, television was often dominated by his electrifying performances, or the music videos. In kindergarten I drew pictures of men grabbing their crotches because that's the pose I remember most from Michael Jackson's dances, to the consternation of teachers.

Short interview with me on BMW Shorties website

Did a quick email interview with the peeps at BMW Shorties two days ago, and the interview was immediately up on their page yesterday. Good job using the cast and crew photo from 3PM too! An excerpt. Filmmaking has been around for decades, how do you innovate and make your film different? Actually, I don’t self-consciously try to be ‘innovative’ and do things ‘people had never done before’. Normally I just find a story I really like to do, and hope that my personal filmmaking sensibilities can do justice to the story, enough to make it unique. I’m not sure whether I am original, it’s really up to my audiences to decide that. Read the rest here .

A very sweet gesture from the 3PM cast and crew

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So I've wrapped up the shoot for my newest Japanese short film, 3PM last Friday. And had am now editing it. Here's a photo of the cast and crew sent to me by main actress Yumiko Kitazawa (you can also read about the shoot from her blog, but it's only in Japanese). From left to right: Yumiko the lead actress, Ko the sound guy, Kabayama the camera assistant turned lead actor, me, Erika the cinematographer and Yuiko the producer/ assistant director Like I said, I've immediately started work on editing the film the night when I finished the shoot, and things seem encouraging thus far.

Happy Father's Day, dad

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As I look out through my window right now, the world is absolutely grey, and obscured by the rain. Perhaps I'm going to be stuck in my room the whole day. On the other hand, I checked the weather forecast in Kuala Lumpur and it seems cloudy, and there will be rain too in the afternoon, but the rains of tropical Malaysia are ferocious, but fleeting, often ending in mere hours, while the rain of Tokyo often drag on for days. So rain or not, I doubt it will do much to affect Father's Day for dad.

Completed the shoot of my new short, 3PM, edited a rough cut too

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Just got back from the editing lab moments ago. Managed to wrap up the shoot for my new Japanese short film, 3PM. It was a fun shoot, exhausting it was. It's been a while since I've actually made a comedy (though many argued that CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY is just some some film with some comedic moments, and not really a comedy), I needed to do once since I've been making three consecutive depressing films (four, if you count my little-seen experimental video, FLEETING IMAGES). Like I said, 3PM is a zero-budget film much smaller in scale than KINGYO, and set mostly in one location. I only had a skeleton crew (Me, Kou-san the sound guy, Erika the director of photography, Yuiko the producer/assistant director) , but just as I've always believed, as long as everyone's passionate, things can run pretty smoothly. That was the case of the 3PM shoot. Even though we had some cute Waseda University cheerleaders briefly interrupting the shoot with their practice session at ou

LOVE SUICIDES in competition at the Paris Cinema International Film Festival

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Love Suicides I have mentioned this briefly back in April, but I'll mention it again since I've gotten more details now that the official line-up of next month's Paris Cinema International Film Festival is out. So yup, LOVE SUICIDES, my first ever Yasunari Kawabata adaptation before I made KINGYO, is one of the 17 short films around the world selected for competition at the Paris Cinema International Film Fest.

Roppongi Hills at Night

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After finishing dinner yesterday evening, I was gripped by a sudden urge to catch a film. I thought of seeing Ahn Hung Tran's I COME WITH THE RAIN, starring Josh Harnett, Lee Byung-hun, Takuya Kimura and Shawn Yue. I rushed off to take the train to Roppongi, but despite my best efforts, the film had already started when I reached Roppongi Hills. Even though I told the lady that I didn't mind about missing the first 5 minutes of the film, she told me that only the first two rows of seats were available. I didn't want to subject myself to such exertion of effort when seeing a film, thus I decided not to bother in the end. Left in Roppongi without anything to do, I decided to take some photos instead.

Street musicians of Shinjuku on Friday night