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Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Graduation Day

20th of September was my graduation day. My parents were here.

We were walking to the ceremony with Professor Ando.

Behind us is the iconic Theater Museum in Waseda University.

With mom and dad in front of the Waseda theater museum

Parents with Prof. Ando.

Mom and dad with Prof. Ando

That's the statue of Okuma, founder of Waseda University.

Mom, dad and I, in front of Okuma statue

And the iconic Okuma hall.

Me and parents in front of Okuma Hall

And so, in the brief ceremony, I finally received my Masters degree.

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My Masters Degree

NOW I can get a job as a film lecturer, yay!

There were four of us graduating students from Prof. Ando's lab, my China friends Zifeng, Yang Yang and Koreihou (her name's actually Hu Lifang, but going by the Japanese pronunciation for her name, it's Koreihou, which is catchier). You may have seen them a couple of times in this blog.

This semester's graduates of Ando Laboratory

Me, parents and Prof. Ando

With Prof. Sakai, who is great buddies with Prof. Ando.

Me with Prof. Sakai and Prof. Ando

Group photo of graduation students from both Prof. Sakai and Prof. Ando's labs, along with students' parents.

Group photo

After that there was a reception, and Prof Ando raised a toast to us graduating students.

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Post ceremony reception

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Later in the evening, when my parents left, I headed off to an izakaya at Takadanobaba for a dinner party organized for us by the rest of the Ando Lab folks.

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Another toast to our graduation... in which you will hear me sounding exceptionally monotonous.

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Nishina had prepared some gifts for us too. He was wearing that goldfish hat in honour of my film, KINGYO.

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And here's my special T-shirt.

Me with my special graduation T-shirt

The others were supposed to write messages on the shirt for us.

Someone writing messages on Koreihou's shirt

Yuiko writes message on my T-shirt

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We had a gift for Prof Ando too, a wooden frame of calligraphy written by all four of us. Koreihou explains it here.

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Prof. Ando's gift

The graduating students, Yang Yang, Zifeng and Koreihou gave speeches about how happy they were in the past two years, the invaluable lessons learnt, and how they will cherish these memories when they return to China.

Both Prof. Ando and Motomura-sensei (asst prof) also gave speeches about the graduates as well.

... but since I'm still staying around in the lab, and the university. My speech was more like "well... it's been a fun 2 years, I'm still around, so I see you guys... tomorrow."

While Prof. Ando and Motomura-sensei were like "since Edmund's still around, we'll just talk about the other three first."


But nonetheless, it was a wonderful evening.

Group photo. Ando Laboratory. 20 Sept 2010

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Rest in peace, Zeg Zeg.

As I've mentioned in my previous post, my uncle, passed away early in the morning yesterday of cardiac arrest. He was 56.

He was my father's youngest brother, so I've always called him Zeg Zeg (that's a Teochew term for paternal uncles who are younger than your father).

Whenever someone close to me have died, I would feel a sense of grief and melancholy. But mostly I would sort through my memory banks, making sense of the life of the deceased, remembering the intersections between our lives, and then, I try to come away with fond images of this person that will forever define what he or she had been to me, in life.

During my childhood, Zeg Zeg, to me, had always relished playing, in wrestling terms, a 'heel' (the bad guy). A nasty giant of a man, towering over me, bellowing about my weight, about how fat I was. And I, barely 4 or 5 then, already neurotic, already paranoid, already narcissistic, would take the bait easily and argue with him

"No, I'm not fat!" I protested with indignation. "It's all muscles! I'm strong!"

"Yeah? Are you stronger than I am?" He laughed. "I AM STRONG!"

"Yeah? Lift up my house then!!" I challenged, relishing the wittiness of my comeback. I was barely 4 or 5, but I already hated losing.

Year after year in Chinese New Year gatherings of my childhood, Zeg Zeg would point out that I should be 'careful', or I'll end up becoming even 'bigger' than he, which, I would admit, were effective on playing to my paranoia and fears of becoming too fat. Whenever he commented that I had slimmed down, or became skinnier than he remembered, it almost felt like a victory.

And this, strangely, is the majority of my memories of him. Even in recent Chinese New Year gatherings, the first thing he would usually point out when we met was my weight condition ("oh, you've slimmed down", "hah, you're bigger than I am!", "wow, you make me look skinny").

He is survived by his wife. I have hazy recollections of their wedding. Was I four? Or five? They had no children, but they always traveled around together. Lately he had became an Air Asia sycophant.

My mom once told me this: "He (Zeg Zeg) suffered from a broken heart long ago, the object of his affection didn't think that he was good enough for her. Then he met his wife, and he decided to give everything he could to her, the best he could."

I never thought too much about that remark then as I was also too young to grasp the bittersweet pain of romance and unrequited love. Now, years have passed, and I found this statement embedded deeply into my psyche. Whenever I myself suffered from a broken heart, I would always think: "Her loss, it's really her loss. The next one I meet, the next one I fall in love with, if she could ever appreciate me for who I am, if my love is returned... I will give her the world."

So if what my mom had said about Zeg Zeg was indeed true, then perhaps this is the part of him that he had passed to me.

As a child, I thought of him as, once again, a giant of a man, cantankerous and loud, often nastily making fun of my weight, but he was unquestionably a fabulous husband to his wife. That was something I understood about Zeg Zeg since I was a child. The contradiction of a person that suggested to me then that humans are beautiful because they are so multilayered.

And because, to me, Zeg Zeg had always been such a macho tough-talking blowhard, certain moments when he displayed another side of him would become even clearer than it really should be.

In 1991. I was seven. I went to Singapore for Sam Hui's retirement concert with my family. Zeg Zeg and his wife were there too. When the concert ended, my dad went off to get his car. My sister, only two-year-old toddler then, had already fallen asleep.

We had to move to somewhere near the stadium to wait for my dad's car. My mom couldn't carry her and walk such a distance, so Zeg Zeg ended up carrying my sister instead. And somehow, that image of him carrying my sister at night, walking behind my mother, as cars passed by, that became a defining image I had of him.

Eleven years ago. The end of 1999. I was 15. Results of PMR came out. PMR is a government exam you have to take during Form 3 to decide whether you end up at the Science Stream or the Arts Stream. For the Malaysian education system, the Arts Stream is meant for the academically challenged, students have to do well in their exams just to 'avoid' being ended up at the Arts Stream. Being in Science Stream is a mark of being an elite, of glamour, of being cool. Those who did well in their PMR could still choose to be in the Arts Stream, but if your results were mediocre, you have no choice but to choose Arts.

The worst thing happened to me, my results then weren't good enough to be in the Science Stream. For a child such as I, raised in such an environment, your academic results were everything. Growing up as an (almost) straight-A student during my primary school years, my shift to secondary school was like a fall from grace. My results became middling. "Average", to be put it kindly. "Mediocre", to put it bluntly. I thought I studied hard, yet it wasn't good enough, perhaps my command of the Malay language was always too weak, perhaps I just wasn't as good about memorizing things like some people did.

With my future decided, with the entire world collapsing beneath my feet. I locked myself in the room, shutting myself away from everyone else. I thought I had shamed my family, my ancestors, myself, and had became a good-for-nothing dilettante. For a guy who had always hated losing, that was most probably the worst defeat of my life.

Then I remembered a phone call at night, I didn't want to pick up any calls, but it was constantly ringing. I finally got up from my bed and answered. It was Zeg Zeg.

"Hello?" My voice was hoarse from crying.

"Hello." It was Zeg Zeg.

There was a long awkward silence.

"It's okay, everything's okay, just go back to sleep." He finally said.

I put down the phone. Went back to my bed, and cried.

When I received the news of his passing yesterday, I was almost impassive, withdrawn. I was shocked, of course, but then I accepted that life is impermanent. People come and go. It's always like that. I've already experienced a number of losses over my life, so I thought I'm well-equipped enough for all these.

I make films so I can be remembered. As I was writing through this blog post, I was going through my memories of Zeg Zeg, just to honour him by remembering him. Yet all the stuff I remembered and typed here were rather mundane.

Strange then, that I found myself crying after typing them out.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A death in the family

I wanted to post photos of my graduation day on the 20th, or photos of me and mom hanging out at Kamakura on Mid-Autumn Festival two days ago, unfortunately I have to post about this instead.

This morning I received a call from mom. My uncle, dad's youngest brother, had just passed away a few hours before dawn. Cardiac arrest. He was 56. My parents are flying back to Malaysia tomorrow, a day earlier than planned. More about this later.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Babes of Tokyo Game Show 2010

Dear readers, do not be deceived by the title of this blog post. I am definitely NOT encouraging the objectifying of beautiful booth women at the this year's edition of Tokyo Game Show. Like my 'Babes of Tokyo Game Show 2008' post from two years ago, I am now getting up my high horse to voice my personal conflicted feelings towards the beautiful booth women of the Tokyo Game Show.

Watch this documentary BOOTH BABE CONFESSIONS, it'll make you realize how much peril they've put themselves in, and how repulsive some people had acted towards them. Shame!

Me with Rei Ayanami cosplayer booth girl

So if you're expecting this blog post to be purely about pretty girls at the show, prepare to be disappointed, because, as you can see, I also have TWO photos of male cosplayers.


Mario at Tokyo Game Show 2010

And the awesome Snake from Metal Gear Solid who used the banana as his gun. He's a very smooth one-eyed Snake.

Snake of Metal Gear Solid cosplayer

I'm glad that I have clarified matters with the sole two pictures of men I have, so I'll move on with my narrative.

Yesterday morning I headed off to the Tokyo Game Show 2010. The last time I went was 2008, I missed it last year either because I was at the Venice Film Fest, or Pusan Film Fest, can't remember.

Me at the Tokyo Game Show 2010

Tokyo Game show

I arrived at 11am. The queue was long.

Long queue outside Tokyo Game Show 2010

Then I entered.

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Took a glance at the Square Enix booth.

Lots of people snapping photos of Kingdom Hearts' Sora

Walked from one hall to another and ended up at the cosplayer section.

One cosplayer taking photo of another

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I hurried along, because I wasn't going to stop and take photos of those cute cosplayers.

3 cute Tales of the Abyss cosplayers

My mission was simple. I only wanted to sample the upcoming games, and study intensively the strategies employed by game companies when promoting said upcoming games.

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If you look closely at the video, you notice that the booth girl is rather cute, and she was handing out Marvel Vs Capcom 3 folders to the people trying the games.

Capcom girl

As a respectable filmmaker, my focus was on the game being played behind her. Not on her.

So I tried the Xbox 360 version of Marvel Vs Capcom 3, trying the characters of Deadpool, Ryu and Thor. Nice game.

I went away.

It was very crowded.

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Chanced upon the Galgun booth. The Galgun booth girls were very popular.

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I was shocked by the attention that the girls were getting, at the same time, i was moved by these girls' diligent efforts to promote their company.

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I then stumbled into the IGNITION booth. I looked carefully at the booth girls' shirts to know what they were promoting.

Ignition booth girl

Another Ignition booth girl

It was El-Shaddai: Rise of The Metatron. There were numerous females playing the game. "Gamer girls?" I pondered, always thinking they were a myth.

Then I saw another crowd gathering around two booth girls.

D3Publisher Girl

D3Publisher Girl 2

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As you can see from the subtle panning of my camera during the video above, I made an effort to show that they were promoting for the company D3Publisher.

Meanwhile, online games were being plugged as well.

Booth girl for some online game, I think

Booth girl for also an online game

Some universities have also set up booths in the Tokyo Game Show, unfortunately, I couldn't exactly remember what university the girl below was from.

Booth girl for some university

But I remember Nihon Kogakuin University. I marveled at the uniforms worn by the booth girls, wondering quietly whether it was an actual uniform won by the university students.

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I think the Nihon Kogakuin girl was happy to see me too.

Nihon Kogakuin girl was happy to see me.

As I continued walking, I saw a girl dressed up as Rei Ayanami, handing out Evangelion stuff.

Rei Ayanami cosplayer booth girl

Rei Ayanami cosplayer booth girl 2

She was decidedly a female-friendly booth girl, as even a number of girls were gathered around her, taking photos, screaming "Kawaii!" to themselves.

I respected her drawing power, so I decided to show people that even a cynic like I, had decided to take the stuff that she was handing out. Hence this photo.

Me with Rei Ayanami cosplayer booth girl

There was a corner for people to sit on the floor to rest and eat. I was reminded of refugee camps I see in disaster films.

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I saw the Famitsu Magazine's booth. It's the most important video game magazine in Japan.

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Guess they were having some sort of a variety show or something.

I walked past another booth, and marveled at its ingenuity of letting their booth girl work under such comfortable circumstances.

Booth girl... chillin'.

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Unfortunately, I didn't really find out what booth it was. Alas.

I returned to the Marvel Vs Capcom 3 booth. Not because i wanted to take photo with the girl.

Capcom girl again.

But because this time I wanted to try the PS3 version of the game. It was pretty good too.

From the distance, I watched the booth girls trying out the Kinect.

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Then there were women with guns at the YAKUZA: OF THE END booth.

Promoter girls of Yakuza: Of The End

The game has zombies in it.

Notice the zombie behind the women with guns.

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I nodded. Despite having not played a single Yakuza game, I found myself instantly intrigued by the premise of this new game, not because I saw eye candies with guns, and some zombie, I was awed by the colossal marketing machinery of the Japanese gaming industry.

(Updated: August 11th, 2011):

Shortly after I posted this, the blog Go Make Me A Sandwich linked to me in an Oct 2010 post with the following quote:

(This guy repeatedly mentions how he’s “against booth babes”, but all his babe photos are posed… Not sure what to think.)

It's good to be ah, morally ambiguous. Anyway, it's quite a coincidence because I noticed a sudden spike of traffic from Go Make Me A Sandwich (I highly recommend a read, it's mostly about How Not To Sell Games To Women) in the past few days, and I was also just talking to a friend about attending next month's Tokyo Game Show 2011.

I'm sure once again, my highly conflicted feelings towards Booth Babes will resurface. (hoho.)

Sunday, September 19, 2010


[INHALATION] Mei (Susan Lee Fong Zhi) musing in a butcher shop

Edited this together two nights ago. The music you here in the trailer is the main theme of the short film and is composed by my now-frequent collaborator Wong Woan Foong. Cello performed by Mark Shuping.

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

KINGYO cinematographer Josha shot the new SPEED music video, Yubiwa

Now, finally, something not about the screenings of my film.

A few years ago I mentioned my teenage love for the Japanese pop group SPEED.


They started in 1996, then disbanded in 2000. I was crushed. In 2008, they came back again, I was skeptical. Yet the intensity of my love for SPEED, especially lead vocalist Hiroko Shimabukuro (the tall one), was so intense that I composed silly haiku for her.

Oh, hiro, hiro,
I think of you with sorrow,
ouch my head explodes.

I'm a poet, yes.

As a teenager I dreamed to become a film director and perhaps one day I can make a film with them. For them.

A film?
A music video?
Does it even matter?

The teenager that was me was constantly swimming through a river of daydreams, swimming against the tide.

Far-fetched silly little dreams that were often scoffed at by classmates in school. Oh, what a blow then, to my narcissistic pride, to be constantly mocked and laughed at, for having a dream. (note: though my parents insist that I'm just being extremely neurotic and paranoid and that in truth no one had really wronged me as much as I have believed. It was a nice way to quench my sorrow. It's like telling a fat boy that he's just big-boned. Sigh, I always knew that I was fat.)

But nonetheless, looking at what I'm doing now, the child who grew into a teenager continuing to dream of becoming a film director is not really that silly... isn't it?

Last week, Josha, one of the two cinematographers of my short film KINGYO (I needed two because the film was mostly in split screens and many scenes were done with two cameras shooting simultaneously, just so you know) told me that he had recently shot the latest music video for Speed's latest single, YUBIWA 「指環」.

My heart skipped a beat, and I went into a melodramatic spiel, like something you see in a 30s or 40s Hollywood production.

"Oh, you did? You really did? How utterly wonderful? What was it like? Tell me, oh tell me, Josha-san!"

I felt as if I was a giggly pimply-faced fat teenager again, often ignored by women in high school, often broken-hearted.

I felt like the giggly pimply-faced fat teenager who once attempted to write a fantasy novel and went around hoping a friend would read it but was, also, mostly ignored.

Oh, all these flashbacks, all these horrid flashbacks!

Josha showed me the music video.

I stared.

"But... why... so... minimalistic?" I asked.

"Budget constraints."

"If I were directing this music video, I would have tried... something like, you know (some Japanese pop singer) and (some other Japanese pop singer)'s music video!"

"Those were big budget stuff."

"Eh, (some new semi-obscure J-singer) and (some semi-obscure J-band) made stylish music videos with low budget."

"Initially, the director wrote a script. But you should know who actually calls the shots."

"Oh." I replied wittily.

Josha left. I remained in my editing room. Looking at the computer screen. On Youtube. Play. I clicked. Pause. I clicked. Play. I clicked.

"If I were to direct a music video..." I tapped the keyboard absently.

Then I smiled as I dreamed another wistful dream.

(Kingyo trailer, to show a sample of Josha's cinematography work in other films :D)

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(UPDATED: 20th of September, 2010):
I was more than a little amused when i found out that this blog post was linked to by a forum member at the SPEED IS BACK forum. Said forum member was understandably upset by my seemingly negative reaction towards the music video, and perhaps cast doubts upon my 'claims' of 'knowing' the cameraman of the music video and 'once being a fan'.

I signed up a user name (I called myself Kobe81, after NBA star Kobe Bryant, and a reference to a historic night of his... because no one would expected me to call myself Kobe since I always rooted against him, haha) and left the folks at the forum a message.

I remember what it was like long ago when I used to own a SPEED mailing list, fans can be really passionate. Anything negative spoken about the objects of their affections can elicit a really strong response.

Even I myself, the owner of the mailing list, got blasted a number of times of not liking some of their songs. Fans, they can be quite endearing, I guess.

Now, just to clarify matters. I am definitely not criticizing the director of the music video. Just as Josha pointed out then "you know who actually calls the shots", i was referring very clearly that the director himself does not have full creative control over the music video. It wasn't him who 'called the shots'. He initially wrote a script, but it ended up not being used.

Creative input was also provided by the girls, since they were the 'stars' of the video, and of course, their record label, since they financed the entire video. When everyone is able to have their say with what they want in the music video, the director has to make adjustments, compromises. So the end product is not entirely the directors' responsibility, especially in a pop music video.

I didn't make any claims that I will do a much better job with directing this, after all, the entertainment industry is rather complicated, and many times the director is not entirely at the top of the food chain. Yet I was wistful, and I wondered what I myself would do if I directed a SPEED music video.

Nonetheless, I am happy for the SPEED girls that they still have such passionate fans speaking out for them. Hey, if I have such passionate fans defending my films as well, I'll be a happy man too!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Catch KINGYO and a sneak peek of INHALATION at Malaysian Shorts, 20th Sept

A while ago, Allan Koay the journalist once asked whether I noticed that my short films looked alike.

I disagree.

Aside from having scenes of brooding young women.

The Maid (Luchino Fujisaki) has a solitary moment
Luchino Fujisaki in KINGYO

[INHALATION] Mei (Susan Lee Fong Zhi) musing in a butcher shop

And regularly centering around two protagonists walking around somewhere at night, chit-chatting, and reopening old wounds etc etc.

[kingyo] A nocturnal conversation at the carpark

[INHALATION] Seng (Ernest Chong) confronts Mei (Susan Lee)

I think each and every single one of my shorts look different!

Kingyo has split screens and a girl in maid costume.

Inhalation has, er, no split screens and a girl working in a pig farm and butcher shop.

See? Massive differences, both.

However, if you live somewhere in Klang Valley and you want to check it for yourself, and you have never got the chance to watch KINGYO (even after I accidentally leaked it via Twitter yesterday), you can catch both of them, including, yes, a sneak peek of INHALATION at this edition's Malaysian Shorts in HELP UNIVERSITY.

I have lots of fond memories of Malaysian Shorts, despite the event's relative obscurity to the masses, it is a launching pad for many of the most well-known Malaysian filmmakers today. Imagine my elation when my student shorts from Australia, VERTICAL DISTANCE (2006) and GIRL DISCONNECTED (2006) were selected for screening 3 years ago.

And then, the rather chilly responses I got subsequently gave me a lot of motivation for self-examination and soul-searching. Thus I realized I had to 'up my own game' when making short films.

So yup, nearly 4 years later, I'm honoured to have two of my shorts playing at this year's edition of Malaysian Shorts.

Unfortunately, I never really had the chance to attend most of the Malaysian Shorts. The only one I went to was the one in early 2007 for GIRL DISCONNECTED's. I missed the one showing VERTICAL DISTANCE in August 2007 cos I went off to Chile, then I missed the one showing a rough cut of LOVE SUICIDES early last year cos I was here in Japan.

I'm afraid I'm not going to break this streak, being stranded in Tokyo right now and all.

But please, please, PLEASE. If you have nothing better to do on this Monday, and you want to catch some of my short films, please have a look.

Even if you obviously want to AVOID my shorts, you can still catch the other, more worthwhile short films in the program. You can just go through those, wait until mine appear, walk out for a 40 minute toilet break when KINGYO begins (it's the pretty one with the split screens), and then go back into the hall when INHALATION ends (it's the stylish one with all those falling cherry blossom petals).

Kelab Seni Filem presents the long awaited new edition of --

Malaysian Shorts

Presented by Amir Muhammad

Q&A with the directors (Edmund: except ME!!)

Free admission – all welcome

Monday 20 Sept, 8.00pm

HELP University College, Pusat Bandar Damansara, KL

Enquiries: 012-2255136

Focal Point

Dir: Alireza Khatami & Ali Seiffouri (12min, Malaysia-Iran, 2009)

An old photographer has a magical camera, a legacy from his ancestors. People come to him to find out who their soul mates are. It is not always a happy story when a couple discovers they are not meant for each other. Once in a while he takes his own pictures to add to the growing collection of his loved one's photographs. Then one day she herself shows up. Fearing that he might not appear in her photograph he lies awake at night. Next day he places his own photograph in the package that he has to hand to her.

Iran-born Alireza Khatami & Ali Seiffouri studied at Multimedia University, Malaysia, and they made several acclaimed and award-winning shorts. They are currently pursuing their MFA in the Savannah College of Art and Design, USA in film directing and cinematography.


Dir: Anwari Ashraf (8min, Malaysia, 2009)

Kiamu!!! is set in a boarding school… or, more specifically, in the hyperactive mind of one of the boys, as he takes us through the place. What does a guy have to do to fit in?

Anwari's first attempted film directing at the age of 14. His debut short film; Humpty Dumpty's Scientific Escape (2003) brought him to Hong Kong for the 2004 APICTA awards. He was a pure-science stream student and was aiming to study Medical Science on a government scholarship. But he has just completed his BA in Film, Video & Interactive Arts at Middlesex University, London under the sponsorship of Astro.

The Colour of Ideas

Dir: Low Weiyan (7min, Malaysia, 2010)

Quirky, stop-motion work set in the context of political agitation, but with an underlying humanist agenda. The colour-coded blobs represent the main Malaysian political parties, as well as the colours of the flag.

Low Weiyan is a student of life, and, to a less important degree, at a university. He wants to make films and contribute to humanitarian causes.

kingyo (goldfish)

Dir: Edmund Yeo (25min, Malaysia-Japan, 2009)

Poignant film which uses split-screens to tell the story of two former lovers who meet again to discover a shared guilt. Shot in Tokyo with a largely Japanese cast and crew. Based on a Yasunari Kawabata short story, kingyo was in competition at the Venice International Film Festival 2009. "A rich and stunning film that chooses to approach emotionally complex themes from a strictly cinematic standpoint and emerges triumphant" (Marc Saint-Cyr, Toronto J-Film).

Edmund Yeo obtained a graduate diploma in media production at Murdoch University after completing his BCom there. He produced Woo Ming Jin’s films The Elephant and the Sea, Woman on Fire Looks for Water and Tiger Factory. Edmund’s shorts - Chicken Rice Mystery, Fleeting Images, Love Suicides and kingyo - have screened and won awards at film festivals.

Dir: Edmund Yeo (17min, Malaysia-Japan, 2010)
A spin-off of Woo Ming Jin's The Tiger Factory (2010), it follows the story of Mei, a disgruntled worker on a pig farm and a butcher shop. One night she takes money from boyfriend Seng, breaks his heart, and smuggles into Japan. A month later she gets deported. Her ex-boyfriend Seng picks up her up from the harbour. The young couple spend the night trying to come to terms with how they came to their lives of shattered dreams and forsaken love. Angry words are exchanged, but as morning comes, in the face of fate's inevitability, they inhale in resignation.

Festivals: Pusan International Film Festival 2010 (in competition), Vancouver International Film Festival 2010, Tokyo International Film Festival 2010.


Dir: Shanjhey Kumar Perumal (28min, Malaysia, 2010)

Rebellious conversation between two gangsters from different eras while they recap certain chapters from their lives. Made with prize money from Shanjhey’s win in the 2009 BMWshorties competition with his short film Machai.

Shanjhey: “Jagat is the Indian way of pronouncing the Malay word jahat which means bad. It’s a common word among gangsters. I found it catchy and it’s kinda very Malaysian in a way. In another respect jagam in Tamil and jagat in Sanskrit mean universe. The universe plays an important role in this film.”

The Other One

Dir: Ng Ken Kin (10:36min, Malaysia, 2010)

Ali, Chong and Muthu are talents for a multiracial commercial shoot which takes place in the middle of nowhere. A case of food poisoning forces Muthu into the woods to relieve himself. They find out later that they are not the only presence there. Winner of the Best Short Film award (Semi-Pro category) at the Panasonic Digital Film Fiesta 2010.

Ken Kin's last short film was in 2006 as part of the Beautiful Malaysia series. Since then he's been directing tv series and getting his hands dirty doing location sound for various shoots. In 2007 he co-founded Soundwise Sdn Bhd (


Dir Aaron Chung (4min, Malaysia, 2009)

Carwash is a live-action short film set in a 24-hour carwash centre. Constantly a victim of local thugs, a migrant worker encounters an international assassin who himself is having a rough night’s work. Carwash premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam earlier this year.

Aaron Chung is a working cinematographer who was trained at Akademi Filem Malaysia. His student short Crook was chosen as Best Malaysian Student Short in 2004. His work as director of photography includes Jarum Halus (2008), House (episode in 15Malaysia, 2009), and The Other One (2010).

ByeBye Birdie

Dir: Akashdeep Singh (12min, Malaysia, 2010)

A father and son's big day out.

At Festival Filem Malaysia 2007, Akashdeep Singh won Best Short Film for his short film Pintu and Best Editor for Cinta (2007). His work as feature film editor includes Histeria, Hooperz and Kapoww.

Total screening time: 123min


Thursday, September 16, 2010

First minute of LOVE SUICIDES at FILMINUTE 2010

[Love Suicides] The woman (Kimmy Kiew) is pensive

(After such a long period of inactivity, I am now bombarding this blog with festival announcements, eek.)

This actually started at the beginning of September, but I didn't mention it due to some, er, distractions.

Anyway. a one-minute incarnation (or rather, the first scene) of my older short film, LOVE SUICIDES (2009), was one of the 25 finalists selected for FILMINUTE 2010, an international one-minute short film festival. I was a little surprised when I was informed last month by the people at the festival that the first scene of LOVE SUICIDES seemed like a 1-min film by itself!

So yeah, after that I decided to extract the scene and sent them as LOVE SUICIDES: PROLOGUE.

Watch it here on the Filminute website. (considering that it's only a minute long, I really don't that it'll waste that much of your time. Hah)

INHALATION also playing at Vancouver and Tokyo International Film Festivals (with THE TIGER FACTORY)

[INHALATION] Seng (Ernest Chong) and Mei (Susan Lee) share a quiet moment at the dock

I mentioned in my previous post that my latest short, INHALATION, is finally making its premiere in competition at the Pusan International Film Festival on the 8th of October.

Actually on the same day (but slightly later, due to timezones), INHALATION will also be opening before THE TIGER FACTORY at the Vancouver International Film Festival. And later in the month of October, INHALATION will also be playing before THE TIGER FACTORY at the Tokyo International Film Festival.

INHALATION on Vancouver International Film Festival site

THE TIGER FACTORY on Vancouver International Film Festival site

I liked the INHALATION synopsis given on the VIFF website.

An alternate version of The Tiger Factory’s narrative, compressed, stretched, and flipped, by its writer/producer.

Monday, September 13, 2010

INHALATION premiering in competition at Pusan International Film Festival

[INHALATION] Seng (Ernest Chong) confronts Mei (Susan Lee)

It's not everyday that you get to plug your own SHORT FILM (!!) at the Cannes Film Festival. But I did just that with INHALATION, back in May, during the press conference of THE TIGER FACTORY, when I was asked about it by Jeremy Segay the moderator and programmer.

Video page

INHALATION is a spin-off/ pseudo sequel of THE TIGER FACTORY which follows Mei, one of the secondary characters from the latter film. (Imagine Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead.)

I shot some of the short film during THE TIGER FACTORY shoot in March, and then had another quick two-night shoot right after we wrapped THE TIGER FACTORY. Then I returned to Tokyo in late March and shot a couple of shots as well. Finished the post-production shortly before I flew off to Cannes.

The original intention was to show INHALATION before THE TIGER FACTORY in festival screenings. However, I was rather surprised, and honoured, when I received an email last month from the Pusan International Film Festival, inviting my film to their Asian Shorts Competition as a standalone short.

And so, that's where INHALATION will be making its world premiere, as one of the 5 Asian short films in competition.

The other shorts seem pretty awesome and I'll be looking forward to watching them. (At the risk of sounding like a fanboy, I would also like to point out that I was intrigued by the casting of Vivian Hsu in JULIET'S CHOICE, the Taiwanese entry. Yes.)

Will be leaving for Busan next month.

For now, here are some stills.

[INHALATION] Mei (Susan Lee Fong Zhi) musing in a butcher shop

[INHALATION] Seng (Ernest Chong) and Mei (Susan Lee) share a quiet moment at the dock

[INHALATION] Seng (Ernest Chong Shun Yuan) broods

[INHALATION] Mei (Susan Lee) at the dock

INHALATION stars Susan Lee Fong Zhi and Ernest Chong Shun Yuan ("WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER"). Cinematography by Kenny Chua. Music by Wong Woan Foong. Sound by our intern Choo Toong Hoe. Assistant director (of sorts): Chew Cheng En.

Synopsis from the Pusan page.

Unhappy farm worker Mei steals some money from her boyfriend Seng, boards a ship to Japan and leaves him broken-hearted. But when she is deported it is Seng that greets her at the harbor for a night of bitter reflection. A story of resignation and accepting one’s shattered dreams.

You are going to hear more of it soon.

Aside from INHALATION and THE TIGER FACTORY, this year's Malaysian participants in Pusan International Film Festival are Tan Chui Mui's sophomore film THE YEAR WITHOUT A SUMMER and Lim Kah Wai's MAGIC AND LOSS (it's also a co-production with Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and France). Kah Wai's prolific, his previous film AFTER ALL THESE YEARS premiered in Hong Kong International Film Fest earlier this year in March. The latter two are making their world premieres.

Today is also my sister's birthday. More on that later. 21 and she still looks like a child, good job.
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