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My Short Films

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.

In addition to that, both my short films LOVE SUICIDES and KINGYO were also screened under the SEA SHORTS exhibition. (the latter, being a last-minute addition, wasn't listed in the catalog or the website, quite a bummer!)

[Love Suicides] The girl (Arika Lee) plays with the red balloon
Love Suicides

The woman (Rukino Fujisaki) whispers something to the man (Takao Kawaguchi)
kingyo


I was asked to write an acceptance speech so they could post on the Cinemanila website. So this is what I wrote:

I'm honoured by the special mention given to us. Thank you very much,
Cinemanila. I would definitely love to share this with the cast and
crew of WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER, for making this film possible.
And also with the people of Kuala Selangor, who had so kindly let us
shoot at their places and even acted for us! A special thanks to the
financial support of Rotterdam Film Festival's Hubert Bals Fund and
Pusan Film Festival's Asian Cinema Fund, who believed in this modest
project of ours. We also received a lot of technical support for the
post-production of our film from the latter, which was an invaluably
educational experience! But I especially like to thank Woo Ming Jin,
this film sprang forth from his vision and creativity.

This year's South East Asian Cinema line-up, both feature films and
shorts, shows what a luminous collective of voices we are becoming on
the global stage, and a culmination of our dedication to our craft.
Despite this occasionally being in the name of competition, I believe
us all to be part of an artistic family aiming for excellence, we give
our all to reach for something beyond a paycheck. I'm excited to be
part of this with my neighbours, and as we continue to make films
together, I look forward to what the future of South East Asian Cinema
has to offer. Thanks.

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.

Started the day with breakfast at one of the food stalls with Ming Jin, Seng Tat and Tuck Cheong. The food I had was one of the best I had in the trip, that's because it's one of the rare moments when I had authentic Korean food (the rest of them I was having party food, which were fine, but they ain't authentic Korean food).

A korean dish


It's a sort-of porridge. Not sure what it's really called. Here's more of us eating:

(click here if you can't see the embedded video)



In the afternoon, we went to see Thai filmmaker Anocha Suwichakornpong's New Currents-competing film MUNDANE HISTORY (we call her Mai). I didn't know then that MUNDANE HISTORY would end up being the only film I saw at the Pusan Film Fest...

Due to Mai's background as an experimental filmmaker, I felt that the film truly took off when she made use of her experimental skills for the really abstract scenes. At those moments, my jaws occasionally dropped open. And the ending... well, I won't spoil it. (When we told Seng Tat in the morning that we were going to catch the film, Seng Tat, who had seen a rough cut of the film earlier, remarked "watch out for the ending... it's... eeee...")

There were a lot of parties at night. I'm not really a partying type of person, and I seldom drink, so during the wee hours after midnight, as everyone went off to dance, and I felt a little suffocated being crammed with so many people in one place, and grimaced at the pulsating music that slammed against my head, I headed off.

I saw Namewee (he came along too because he acted in some segments at the 15Malaysia omnibus film) sitting at the corner, seemingly uncomfortable with the settings too. So I went over and asked whether he wanted to go for a walk outside.

He seemed relieved. We went out and started to speak.

Then Fred, his manager and also Ming Jin's friend, came over and dragged him off to another club. "What? Another club?" was Namewee's feeble protest before he entered the cab.

Alone again, I saw fireworks in the distance and started walking along Haeundae Beach.

Haeundae beach at night


I tried to follow the direction of the fireworks. There were different groups of people playing with them.


(click here if you cannot see the embedded video)


(click here if you cannot see the embedded video)


(click here if you cannot see embedded video)


(click here if you cannot see embedded video)


Despite the building lights in the distance, Haeundae Beach was rather dark at night, and as I trudged through the sand, I spotted many people, mostly couples, sitting close to the gentle waves, then there were also some others gathered there for picnics and drinks. The sound of the crashing waves was, as usual, soothing, the occasional sight of fireworks was, to me, mesmerizing. And then the wind blew, and I wondered whether the sun in Pusan would rise as early as the one in Tokyo.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Tortoise

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








This is about a real tortoise.

Tortoise with shoes


I was heading off to the Tokyo Film Fest a few days ago when I saw an old man walking his tortoise, and the tortoise was wearing shoes. I think I've seen the tortoise once or twice before last year, but I wasn't armed with a camera. I'm luckier this time.



So cute!

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.

Finally, a few days ago, I relented when a certain Japanese film festival made it compulsory to include a trailer with all its submissions, a rule I wasn't entirely happy about. So in the end I slapped something together in an hour and found myself none-too-displeased with its end result. Some compromises were made, of course, like the fact that I had to reveal a particular plot point in the film that I wanted to keep hidden. But other than that, I'm fine.

Here's a trailer.



(Go here if you cannot see the embedded video)

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.

This month, KINGYO is supposed to be screening at 2 festivals, the one in Hong Kong, and also at the Cinemanila International Film Festival. Although I'm not too sure about the latter as KINGYO was a last-minute addition. But I think both my films, KINGYO and LOVE SUICIDES (which was selected much earlier and has a film page) were screened at Cinemanila two days ago.

WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER, the feature film I produced and edited, is also playing at both festivals. (check out its Hong Kong Asian Film Fest page, and the Cinemanila one)

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.



Here's my buddy Miyonne again, with Celine, a French-Chinese. Celine remarked that I looked like a real estate agent in my suit, to my chagrin. Well, that pretty much reinforced my suspicion that I was overdressed that night, argh.

Miyonne and Celine


Thai and Malaysian directors fraternizing
From left to right: Ming Jin, director Pen-ek Ratanaruang, French-Taiwanese producer Chin Ling, editor Lee Chatametikool (he edited many major Thai films in the past few years, "Shutter", "Syndromes and a Century", "Wonderful Town" and this year's "Karaoke" by Chris Chong and also the New Currents-competing film by Mai, "Mundane History"), producer Soros Sukhum ("Mundane History" and "Wonderful Town"), actor Phakpoom Surapongsanuruk (lead actor of "Mundane History", we have the same birthday, but he's 3 years younger) and director Aditya Assarat (we call him Juke)


And this is director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang (of "Invisible Waves", "Nymph", "Ploy" and "Last Life In The Universe" fame), showing me how to roll a tobacco. Check out the ending of the video, hehe. Smooth!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

SCREEN DAILY review of WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER

(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.


Darn!

Ah Fei (Ernest Chong) catches and sells frogs for a living. His modest income is supplemented by his single father Ah Kau (Chung Kok-keong), who operates a small fishing boat. Both men are entangled in complicated relationships. After a palm reading, Ah Kau feels that he is close to death and sets off for a neighboring village to visit a woman he wishes he had married years before.

Ah Fei is in love with Lily (Foo Fei-ling), a woman who works in a small fish salting factory, but she says she’ll only accept him if he raises a sizable amount of cash. Soon, he finds better employment at a shellfish processing factory, but the factory owner seems intent on getting Ah Fei to marry his own daughter.

A big part of this film’s appeal is the location shooting in Malaysian village Kuala Selangor. Numerous, repetitive shots of fish and other sea animals being processed and dried in the sun present an evocative picture of the village sustained by the bounty of the sea. However it is not a romanticised vision: Woo’s camera is just as focused on rusted buildings, floating trash and the gruesome business of cutting up fish.


Read the rest of the review here.

(After posting a link to Sebastian's negative review in my post about the film's world premiere. Sebastian had asked me, on Facebook, what kind of producer I was, to draw attention to my own film's negative review! Hah, self-deprecation is a virtue of mine! As long as anyone's willing to write or review about the films I'm involved in, I'll post it.. as long as it's constructive. So, a simple "EDMUND YEO'S A TALENTLESS HACK!" one-liner won't really get any link love. But if there are some explanation on WHY I'm an insipidly talentless hack, or HOW hopelessly talentless I am as a hack etc, yup, I'll link to it)

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.



When I arrived, I camwhored. In this photo, I was supposed to be pointing at the cinema screen, too bad the photographer in question, Kabayama, was too meticulous in capturing the details of my manly face to get a wider shot and show what I was pointing at.

Pointing at the cinema screen


We waited for the crowd to come in. For a while I was worried we'll be playing our film to an empty theater.

With Zifeng and Yang Yang


Moments after the above photo was taken, I'm happy to say that the hall was nearly full, though I forgot to ask Kabayama to snap photos of the crowd to prove it.

This is us, with Ando-sensei, introducing the films we were involved in.

Introducing our films


Finally I gave a brief intro about KINGYO, with Maiko translating. I spoke about how the film was inspired by the works of Yasunari Kawabata, how the short story 'CANARIES' formed the basis of my plot while I also fused some elements of 'SNOW COUNTRY' as well (I said that as an ignorant foreigner, I had viewed the Akihabara maids as modern equivalents of the geisha, but due to lack of time, I didn't get into detail about my comically seriously research on Akihabara maids last year when i prepared for the film).

Maiko translating my words into Japanese


Unfortunately, the cinema was unable to play HDCAM, so the film was screened in DVD format. Eek.

Finally, after the screening, Maiko and I headed back to Tokyo. Maiko had taken over producing duties for my new film THE WHITE FLOWER (stills here), which I am now starting to edit. She was in the midst of her NHK internship when I was shooting the film back in July.


(THE WHITE FLOWER)


I took a non-linear approach with the film due to its form (it's a film constructed almost entirely with still photos) so I haven't really finished the script for its voiceover narration until two nights ago. Film will be in both Japanese and Mandarin. Maiko, as usual, is supposed to help translate the script into Japanese (well, the Japanese parts anyway) and ensure its authenticity. I will now suffer a bit more myself with the Chinese translation.

Had spent the past few nights at the editing lab beginning the editing process, which, is shaping up to be so much a challenge that I have nightmares of KINGYO again, in which I swore off doing films almost entirely in split screens. I know I'm not gonna do another film entirely in still photos either.

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.



I had barely eaten anything that day, so I headed to the food court to have a quick bite at the Burger King (I tried the Bulgogi burger, not bad). Ming Jin and WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER actress Fei Ling were on their way to cinema after the screening of the omnibus film 15MALAYSIA (they were both involved).

(Just to clarify some things, WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER was indeed screened at the Venice Film Festival last month, but in its digital format, and as a work-in-progress as we haven't finished the transfer to film)

Finally, the official world premiere of WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER, in its glorious 35mm format, began. And it was actually held simultaneously in TWO cinemas!

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


There were some minor issues with the projection, the actors heads were cut off during the close-ups, so I had to exit the theater and speak to the volunteers just so they could tell the technical person in charge and she could tell the projectionist. They were efficient, and things went on smoothly after that.

Sebastian, who was at the screening, didn't like the film, of course. But I myself was quite happy to see the film in its 35mm format. Just that I was a little mortified to see how slow the end credits crawl were.

The Q and A session began after that, with Ming Jin, me and Fei Ling.

By that time, I realized I was overdressed. Environment was a little different from Venice.

Me waving to audiences at the WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER Q and A session


The Q and A session, to our surprise, lasted for more than an hour, with the audiences genuinely asking questions and voicing out their thoughts about the films. Questions include why the lack of music in the film, why the languid pacing, why the many shots of dead fish, why shooting at the coastal village etc. There were even questions about how the movie (or movies in Malaysia in general) was funded, or Ming Jin's shot selections, and Fei Ling's interpretation of the character she played.

During the Woman On Fire Looks For Water Q and A session

Listening to questions during Woman On Fire Looks For Water Q and A session


Ming Jin would later say that this was one of the best Q and A sessions he ever had. I would agree, sometimes I wish audiences would be less shy during sessions like these.

After that many audience members came over for photographs and autographs. The lady below even gave Fei Ling a gift.

Fei Ling with a fan


After that, we left the cinema and headed to the Malaysian party thrown by Pete Teo. Unfortunately, I was too busy eating and chatting at the party to take any photos. Hopefully anyone who was at the party would be nice enough to throw me some links to its photos.

That's the WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER team after its world premiere and marathon Q and A session.

The WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER team outside the multiplexes

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.

Waiting for Johnnie To's Master Class




The Master Class was like a 2-hour Q and A session that didn't really go too technical (nope, nothing of him teaching in detail how he crafted his shoot out scenes), but more of him telling 9 chapters of his life and filmmaking career.

This is him talking about how he started his film career joining the famed TVB as a messenger, before becoming an assistant director, and then TV director, in a much shorter time that he envisioned. (He was only 23 when he directed his first feature film THE ENIGMATIC CASE, but was so disappointed with it that he didn't do his next feature until he was 30)

The video's Cantonese only (well, there's Korean translation too)



For a better synopsis of his Master Class, go to here and here.

It was a little grueling for me because while I understood perfectly what he said (in Cantonese), I had to wait patiently for the Korean translator to translate everything before he moved on to his next point, and since most questions were asked by Korean audience members, and the questions weren't translated back to Cantonese, i was more than a little lost, haha.

Yet I liked his last line, where he said that "in the end, no one will give you chances/ opportunities except yourself."



When the Master Class ended, everyone mobbed him for photographs and autographs.

Johnnie To signing autographs


I did a more dignified thing...

I waited a few minutes BEFORE mobbing him for photograph.

("Please! Please! Look at my camera!!! The black one!")

Asking Johnnie To to look at my camera


It's a travesty that Johnnie To still doesn't have an entry at Senses of Cinema's Great Directors database.

With Johnnie To


What a great day it was.

Great view


I then headed back to my hotel to prepare for the official world premiere of WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER. Look out for the next entry!

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.

She glanced at her watch, still sour-faced.

"So... how long's the flight gonna be?" I said, still trying to make small talk to diffuse tension.

"Two hours." she was still very sour-faced.

"Oh." I said.

"This time, we let you get in, but next time, try to arrive 2 hours before the flight." She said, of course, I would be lying if I say that she didn't say that with a sour face.

Then after going through all the procedures, I rushed into the plane, and slept.

I woke up more than an hour later and realized that it hadn't taken off because the morning typhoon had disrupted the schedules for many flights, it was hard for the plane to take off. Guess the sour-faced (but somewhat cute) girl's sour-faced threat was a little uncalled for. Feh.

Reached Pusan after a 2 hour delay. It was already 10 something when I was at the airport. The last flight of the day. I ran to the Pusan Film Fest booth and saw a girl packing and preparing to leave. I told her who I was, she immediately arranged a taxi to the hotel for me.

The trip was nearly an hour. But at least I got to watch some Korean soap opera in the car.



Luckily for me, the opening night party was still on. The entire 15Malaysia (omnibus film, 15 segments done by 15 different Malaysian directors) delegates were there, it's the biggest Malaysian team in history, with 30 people and all. Along WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER and 15Malaysia, there were a couple of other Malaysian films screening at Pusan, like Chris Chong's KARAOKE (which went to Cannes earlier this year), Ho Yuhang's AT THE END OF DAYBREAK (won a Netpac award at Locarno), and Charlotte Lim's debut feature MY DAUGHTER, which is competing under NEW CURRENTS.

Here's a photo of me with Charlotte, and the lead actress Tian See (she was in Tan Chui Mui's short film EVERYDAY EVERYDAY, Yuhang's RAIN DOGS and SANCTUARY and James Lee's CALL IF YOU NEED ME), and a Korean actress whose name I cannot remember. Sorry.

With Malaysian filmmaker Charlotte Lim, actress Thien See and Korean hippie girl
From left to right: Tian See, unidentified Korean actress, me, and Charlotte


Here's Ming Jin with the girl.

Ming Jin with unidentified hippie chick


There's also Dragonball Evolution actress Jamie Chung (she played Chi Chi).


Ming Jin with Jamie Chung

With Jamie Chung ("Dragonball Evolution")


I looked like Shrek standing next to her. :( (I made a mental note to be more careful when I take photos with slender statuesque ladies next time)

Next post will be about me attending the Master Class of my long-time hero Johnnie To, and also the screening of WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER.

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.

In this I explained mostly the concept and workings of film festivals, which still remain a somewhat foreign concept to most of my friends in Malaysia (unsurprising, considering that a couple of times, attempts of organizing a film festival in Malaysia were made and failed, and right now, the only big one we have is Kuala Lumpur International Film Festival, which is having its 3rd edition this year, but being such a corporate event, awareness among regular cinemagoer remains rather low)

With Ang Lee after Joe Dante's The Hole screening (Venice Film Festival 2009)
(Ming Jin and I, with Ang Lee)


CO: So Edmund you're at the Venice Film Festival – what's so special about this film fest? Tell us something about it, for the Malaysians back home.

EY: The Venice Film Festival is the oldest film festival in the world - it's founded in 1932 - so it has an immensely long and rich tradition and history. Many careers were launched here and many important films had their world premieres here. Along with the other two of the 'big three' film festivals Cannes and Berlin, Venice is like the Olympics of film festivals. For me as a filmmaker, to have a film here is like the craziest thing imaginable!

CO: What are you doin right now? Are you eating pasta? Checking out leggy Italian women, maybe?

EY: I'm now hanging out at this 24-hour cafe near my hotel that provides wi-fi service and serves some awesome and authentically Italian gelato! I'm leaving Venice in a couple of hours, so had some photos to upload, tweets to post and Facebook statuses to update.

CO: Did you meet anyone famous while you were there? Taken any pictures with them or spotted any celebs etc?

EY: It's pretty surprising, I ran into a couple of celebrities today. I just met Ang Lee and Takashi Shimizu (director of "Ju-On" and "The Grudge") after a screening, very elated. I also walked past a car this afternoon with actresses Diane Kruger and Sarah Polley in it - didn't realise it was them until much later! There was Jared Leto signing autographs to a plethora of loving Italian fans - all female! (Kruger, Polley and Leto were here for the screening of their film, "Mr Nobody"). And earlier, I met Filipino director and this year's Cannes' Best Director Brillante Mendoza, before the screening of his newest film "Lola". I kind of saw George Clooney and Ewan McGregor but they were surrounded by hordes of reporters and fans, so I couldn't really get a good view. But a big screen nearby showed me that it was the two.

CO: Sounds exciting! Must be pretty normal for a filmmaker like yourself going to film festival but what would a regular movie buff be able to do there? What's there to do at a film fest, anyway?

EY: It's a good chance for a regular moviegoer to catch movies that they might not be able to see anywhere else, or be the first people in the world to see it. Many times, because the filmmakers, cast members and others involved are there to present the film or go through a Q&A session after the screening, it brings filmmakers and audiences closer to one another. Audiences here in Venice are brutally honest, if they hate a film, they will jeer loudly even if the filmmakers were present, but if they really loved a film, which was the case with (eventual Golden Lion winner) "Lebanon", the audiences would give the cast and crew a long standing ovation during the end credits as a sign of appreciation.

CO: So, did you watch any interesting movies there? What were they about? What's the big news this year?

EY: I wasn't able to watch as many movies as I wanted. Aside from the other short films that were in the same programme as I am, I caught "Lebanon" which is a war film set entirely in a tank; "LOLA", which is a story of two grandmothers, one the grandmother of a murderer and the other the grandmother of the murder victim; then just now, I saw Joe Dante's 3D film, "THE HOLE". It was interesting to watch a 3D film in a film festival, but that was also where I bumped into Ang Lee after the screening!

CO: What films of yours are playing at the fest and what are they about? Will these be screened in Malaysia?

EY: Actually, two films i was involved in were playing at the festival. One is a Japanese short film I wrote and directed in Tokyo called "Kingyo", which is about a middle-aged university professor taking a tour with a young woman dressed up as a French maid, and as they walk through the streets of Tokyo at night, their previous relationship is gradually revealed through their conversations, especially a love triangle that still haunts them. Most of my film is done in split screens because I shot it simultaneously with two cameras. Another is a Malaysian feature film I produced and edited called "Woman On Fire Looks For Water". It's written and directed by my regular collaborator Woo Ming Jin - you might remember him as the director of "The Elephant And The Sea" which played at Cathay Cineplexes in 2007. Shot in Kuala Selangor, the film revolves around an elderly fisherman Ah Kan and his son Ah Fei, who are faced with different issues in their love lives. Ah Fei fancies a girl who has a boyfriend while Ah Kan visits an old flame when he knows that he is dying.

"Kingyo" was very enthusiastically received after its screening. Audiences actually clapped twice: Once when the film cut to black and the end credits began, and again after the end credits were over. I was quite taken aback, and actually looked around to see whether it was one of my cast or crew members who started the applause, it wasn't. When I walked out of the hall later, many came to me and congratulated me for making a film they enjoyed, my cast and crew members were very elated about this, definitely.

As for "Woman On Fire Looks For Water", I heard from Ming Jin that there was a warm applause as well, and it definitely sparked a lot of curiosity among the foreign audiences regarding our country, Malaysia.

"Woman On Fire Looks For Water" will be screened in cinemas in the near future, hopefully by next year. As for "Kingyo", being a short film, it's a little more complicated, but I'll see what I can do with it to share with Malaysian audiences.


You can read the rest of the interview, complete with photos, here.

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.

Citrus Kiss
(photo from their Ameblo photo album)


They were a 3-member girl group called Citrus Kiss, in the video below, the bespectacled chick providing additional vocals is Makyu, the one giving out flyers is Saya, the lead vocalist is Curren. But then, there is a lot of flexibilities with their roles, when I just saw them, it was Makyu and Saya doing all the singing while Curren was handing out flyers.



Once again, I maintained a wide shot because I thought the Shinjuku night scenery looked pretty damned cool.

The following video was shot by someone else, at the very same place I was. Not sure whether the performance was before or after the one in my video.



So yup, just something to share. (this dude has lots of Citruss Kiss videos on Youtube if you wanna check them out)

Also visit their blog too if you can read Japanese. All three of them post there and there are usually multiple updates a day. Prolific.

Anyway, I'm preparing for my trip to Pusan tomorrow. Not sure whether postings will be erratic, I hope not.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Meeting Malaysian 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.

That's Jasemaine. (too bad I never got to catch her performance, sigh)

With Jasemaine Gan


When I was done with my screening, I managed to catch the last two songs of Yise's performance. This one's the last one (regular visitors of this blog might notice that I've uploaded this video on Youtube quite a while ago with the intention to blog about it)



Pardon the shakiness of the video, it was my friend Soo Han (and regular collaborator in my film shoots, he was the assistant editor for LOVE SUICIDES and then sound guy/ assistant director for my latest AFTERNOON RIVER, EVENING SKY) shooting the performance at first, then I took over filming duties and the video went straight to hell.

At the end of the above video, she'll remark that she felt nervous having a film director shooting at her with his camera, well, she was referring to me. Doubt she would feel nervous if she knew back then how my camera skills had sucked.

The music video of the song "Right Hand Left Hand" (literal translation) is here.



She had displayed some acting chops in other music videos of hers too. (she had acted in some TV dramas, and told me she was surprised to see James Lee, who directed her before, during his cameo appearance in CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY)



Apparently, only when I searched through Youtube for her music videos to post here, I noticed that some of them actually have two versions. Aside from the local versions, she had done some with (I assume) production crews from Mainland China, with souped-up effects and production values.


(Malaysian version)


(Chinese version)


After I took my photo with her, although I looked smothering hot, I realized I seemed a bit fatter than I've liked (cos she's so skinny).

With singer Loo Yise 罗忆诗 at Klang Creative Fest 2009


I voiced that out. She, being experienced in photoshoots, suggested that I should stand behind her for another one.

Standing behind Loo Yise 罗忆诗 to make myself look slimmer


Unfortunately we were posing for her camera instead of mine, so I'm not whether I looked slim enough in that photo. Yes, I'm vain.

(A week later, I would imitate her pose in Seoul.)

With Paolo

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.

Guy cutting up tuna outside the Sushisen shop at Tsukiji


Pyrotechnics and gimmicks? We were immediately sold.

In spite of the poor tuna.

"ouch"


Ouch.

Of course, the long queue outside the shop was a major factor too.

We went in and started choosing. Well, Yuan Yue did, since it was her birthday.

Yuan Yue looks at the menu


Then the sushi arrived and I snapped a pic. To my horror, the focus went to the two women in the background instead of the sushi, which, I can assure you, was definitely not my intention, as intriguing as the duo were (they looked Japanese, yet they conversed to each other in English, so I assumed one was Japanese... the other Korean? Not that I was eavesdropping, uh-uh, they just spoke loud enough)

I was trying to shoot the sushi, not the girls in the background


The sushi, unsurprisingly, was so good that when I bit into it, its heavenly taste exploded ecstatically in my mouth, and I didn't want to swallow it.

So rapturous was the experience that we ordered some more salmon sushi (which was a mistake, since the shop's specialty is tuna, but still, the salmon's good)

Salmon sushi


Then we stopped by at the Tsukiji Hongan-ji.

Tsukiji Hongan-ji


Went in to have a look and turned out that a Buddhist ceremony was just starting.





After that Yuan Yue went to meet up with friends at Harajuku for lunch, while I returned to my editing lab to do some tweaking with my new film AFTERNOON RIVER, EVENING SKY (I'm a workaholic).

In the evening I met up with her again and we went to Odaiba. A friend of mine, Kou-san, who lives in Odaiba, joined us for dinner and showed us around. After all, it was Mid-Autumn Festival as well, a supposed celebratory lunch between the Chinese members of the film department that she (Kou-san) was going to was canceled (I was supposed to go too, and had intended to bring Yuan Yue there, but the last-min cancellation led us to change our plans to eat at Tsukiji instead).

I myself do have some sentimental attachment to Odaiba, probably because I like viewing the city scenery at night from the island.

The rainbow bridge at night

Watching Tokyo at night from Odaiba


Having never visited the VenusFort shopping mall, Kou-san brought us there to have a look. I then realized that that's where the Odaiba Ferris Wheel is. And the glowing moon, when it peered through the interfering clouds, was unsurprisingly round.

Moonlight over the Odaiba ferris wheel

Yuan Yue and Kou-san heading towards VenusFort


In the VenusFort shopping mall. This amused me.

Feminism

"Women Make The World Go Round"


When it was nine. We left.

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