Friday, October 30, 2009

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

(WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER) Lili (Fei Ling) and Ah Fei (Chong Shun Yuan)
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.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fireworks at Haeundae Beach at night

(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.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Trailer of KINGYO

She (Rukino Fujisaki) looks at the goldfish

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.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

KINGYO screening tonight at the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival 2009

The Maid (Rukino Fujisaki) working

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.

Monday, October 19, 2009

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

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.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


(WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER) Lili (Fei Ling) and Ah Fei (Chong Shun Yuan)

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

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.

Friday, October 16, 2009

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

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.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

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

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 balanced it with commercial comedy hits with the Andy Lau - Sammi Cheng pairing like NEEDING YOU and LOVE ON A DIET. There are some misfires, of course, but I always marvel at how prolific and versatile he is, something I myself as a filmmaker would hope to emulate.

So when I knew that Johnnie To was giving a master class at the Pusan Film Fest, I signed up without any hesitation and headed straight to the first row.

Opening Night Party at Pusan International Film Festival 2009

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. The counters were all closed, I asked an attendant nearby and she made a call. A sour-faced chick (a rarity in Japan, especially at their workplace) appeared, we proceeded with the check-in.

"Wow, I thought the flight was supposed to be 7pm, not 6:30pm!" I said, trying to make small talk.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

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

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.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Girl group Citrus Kiss performing at Shinjuku

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.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Meeting Singer Loo Yise at Klang Creative Fest 2009

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.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Tsukiji's fresh sushi and nocturnal trip to Odaiba

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 demonstration of cutting up tuna outside his shop, Sushisen.