Switching to Mandarin...
若有兴趣的话， 请通过以下链接查看。 呵呵。
问的问题很仔细，很深奥， 我喜欢。 但是也必须用一点时间思考了才能好好的回答他们。
Back to English.
A couple of days ago, I went through an email interview with the China website 'Mask 9'. The article, titled "I'm quite a loner" (my own quote) is finally out.
The questions they asked were very analytical and deep, I liked the challenge, but it took me a while to figure out my answers.
Please read it if you're interested. It's in Chinese.
And now, I will try my best to translate the entire article for you non-Chinese readers. Don't expect an awesome translation though.
Mask 9: Your recent works seem to concern an 'unseen', idealized place or person, like the young woman in FLEETING IMAGES, or the husband in LOVE SUICIDES, the wife and goldfish in KINGYO and the Japan in the mind of the female protagonist in INHALATION. Can you explain to us your interest in this 'other-ness'?
Me: It's being slightly disenchanted with everyday life, yet refusing to give up on yearning after that is seemingly unattainable. I spent most of the early part of my life chasing after my childhood dreams of becoming a filmmaker. Then, after I became a filmmaker, I find myself constantly chasing after attaining greatness, or perfection, with my works, to achieve a certain level of acceptance. For most people, achieving success as a Malaysian filmmaker is unattainable, but I refuse to believe that I don't have a future. Thus I constantly chased after the opportunity to prove, on an international stage, that even I, as a filmmaker from Malaysia, am capable of making decent films. And so, all my life, I am constantly chasing after something seemingly unattainable, yearning and overwhelmed by the unseen. So in some ways, my works have sort of reflected my own attempts to portray these emotions.
Mask9: But why are the protagonists of the aforementioned films such loners? For example, the letter writer in FLEETING IMAGES, the mother and daughter in LOVE SUICIDES, the widowed professor in KINGYO, and the deported young woman in INHALATION.
Me: I'm quite a loner. I loved films and literature at a very young age, but found it difficult to find one who shared my interests, even when I found them, I realized they were loners like me too. In primary school, classmates wanted to be doctors and teachers, yet I wanted to be a film director. In secondary school, classmates (or schoolmates) were more pragmatic, so they were willing to pragmatically point out that I was chasing after something that was unrealistic. I constantly found myself at odds with their ideals and beliefs, sometimes it was a lonely feeling. (another example: most folks in Malaysia are generally fans of football, like English Premier League... yet I've been a lifelong NBA fan!! That's even lonelier!)
In my attempts to create authentic characters with believable characterization, without noticing, they just ended up with shadows of myself, I guess.
Mask9: In KINGYO, why did you put in a scene of a random guy offering money to take photos of the female protagonist's toes?
Me: This actually happened to a friend. She was walking at the streets, then she met some dude who asked for the same thing. I thought it was pretty weird. While I was preparing for KINGYO, I discussed this with my producer Maiko and the lead actress Luchino, Luchino had indeed work as an Akihabara maid prior to her acting career, so she had met a number of incidents like this.
Therefore I decided to add this scene in the film, it was an attempt to portray, in a genuine manner, the everyday encounters of an Akihabara Maid, to add some details. In the end the female protagonist rejected this guy, it's just for me to show that the costume she wore was just a job, underneath it all, she was just a regular young woman with her own principles.
Mask9: Why is that in Kingyo, he needed a certain medium to tap into his own memories of his late wife? Like the part where he dipped his hand into the pond.
Me: The death of his wife left him in a form of emotional paralysis, so he was in a flux, everything around him became irrelevant. Placing his hand into the frozen water of the pond was possibly an attempt to jolt himself from his funk, just to feel again. In life, he was unable to cherish her warmth, and got into an affair with a former student, then she died, and he realized how much he missed and loved her.
Mask9: Why do you make films?
(Well, for this, I went back to the common story that the one or two might have heard of when they read interviews or articles about me)
Me: As a child, thanks to dad's influence, I fell in love with movies. I was always going to cinemas with my parents, curious how they were maid. There was once when we went to see a 'horror' film together (it was that Kevin Bacon film, Tremors), I thought it was pretty scary, couldn't bear to look. Mom said "Nothing to be afraid of, they're all fake, it's all created by the film director, especially the monster". I thought the 'film direct'r was pretty cool, a creator, a GOD. I was 5 or 6, I started dreaming of becoming a filmmaker.
I love the process of creativity, I started writing when I was in secondary school, and because I'm such a loner, I'm constantly lost in my own imagination. Now, through films, I thought it's a good way to express my own emotional world, hoping to find people with a common passion for the things I like. Even if I created a failure, doesn't matter, I'll continue experimenting, practicing, making the next film.
Mask9: What is the relationship between your life and films.
Me: Heh. My life is like a cinema, and cinema is like my life. Most of my films stem from personal experiences. They don't have to be some particular event that happened to me, it could be something fleeting, like a feeling I have towards something or someone at a particular moment at a particular time. Occasionally I draw inspiration from my dreams, other films, books, people I meet, et cetera. I'm a workaholic, the love of my life is probably filmmaking, so I'm constantly finding an opportunity to make a film, that's nothing I enjoy more.
Mask9: Describe your life and experiences in Japan?
Me: Got a scholarship in 2008 and ended up doing my Masters in film at Waseda University. Prior to that I felt a little reluctant, when i just returned from Perth, I met the filmmaker Woo Ming Jin and joined his company, Greenlight Pictures, becoming the producer of his works. And less than a year I had to go to Japan. I was worried that I had to throw all this away to return to life as a student.
But I was wrong. My professor, Prof. Kohei Ando, told me, the best way to learn filmmaking is just to keep on making films, keep on finding your own voice. He was a filmmaker too, so he understood my feelings completely. Our lab is like a small production company, I can write my own script and get feedback from him, if it's a worthy project, he would try to seek financial support for the film. I was fortunate to be able to work in such an environment. In the end, the very first short film of mine that they supported, KINGYO, ended up being in competition at the
Venice Film Festival 2009.
At the same time, I still return to Malaysia regularly to make my films, and continue my partnership with Woo Ming Jin. So it seemed that I didn't need to abandon my filmmaking career in Japan! In fact, being here brought forth more opportunities to learn, aside from learning from my professor, I was able to work with people of different cultures. What I learnt in Japan, I was able to bring it back to Malaysia, what I learnt in Malaysia, I brought it to Japan. It was fun. Last year I introduced Ming Jin to professor Ando, hoping to collaborate in another project. Professor Ando said yes, we ended up making THE TIGER FACTORY (written and produced by Ming Jin and I, directed by Ming Jin, edited by me), and we got into Director's Fortnight at Cannes Film Festival, and received a jury mention at the Tokyo International Film Festival. I'm very lucky to be able to experience the best from both worlds. And what an educational experience too!
Mask9: Which film of yours is your father's favourite? Will you consider getting your father involved in your projects?
Me: I asked him, he said he liked them all, and wishes only that my next film will be better, that I will continue improving,
My dad IS already involved in my projects... just for financial support. I'm kidding. I've always been getting my parents' support, and their understanding. With that, I cannot ask for a better form of collaboration. They trusted me, hence I can just make my films without being bogged down by anything.
In the past two years, my dad had gone to a couple of film festivals with me. Dubai International Film Festival 2008 (the very first film festival I visited as a director), the China Mobile International Short Film Festival 2009, last year's InDPanda Short Film Festival, Pusan International Film Festival, and again, the Dubai International Film Festival. Dad loves films, he's tougher than me, so he can usually catch much more films than I could in film festivals. One of my greatest joys is that he was actually around when I won awards at these festivals, that I could immediately share those moments with him.
The path of creativity is often a lonely one. But it's also because of their loneliness that we are able to watch wonderful films, and experience the unattainable. Hopefully through these communication/ discourse of films, creativity will cease to be a lonely experience.