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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Heading off to the Jeonju Film Festival




I am now waiting for the airport limo at Four Seasons Hotel.

I'm flying off to attend the Jeonju International Film Festival. (3.5 hours away from Seoul via bus) where my short film EXHALATION will be making its Asian Premiere. Screenings are on the 1st and 4th of May. I will be there for the question and answer sessions, along with producer/ star Kiki Sugino. It's going to be fun.

Aside from that, there are numerous films I intend to catch at the festival: the 5 hour film HEAVEN'S STORY, the Bela Tarr film TURIN HORSE, the animated film THE ILLUSIONIST, another 5 hour film MYSTERIES OF LISBON (I caught an hour of it in Rotterdam), and those Jeonju Digital Project omnibus etc

Location:Japan

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A melancholic dream about dying once

I thought I had a strange enough dream during my afternoon nap, but when I went back to my place and finally slept, I had a stranger dream.

I dreamed that I was back in Malaysia again, doing something mundane at home. Then my mother revealed reluctantly that I died once, in Japan, but they brought me home, and I was alive again.

There were brief flashes of images, like a quick montage. I saw myself collapsing onto the floor somewhere at the streets, and was hauled back from Japan to Malaysia in a white body bag.

I didn't remember how I came back to life. Everyone around me were polite and nice to me. Did they know what happened?

I went through the entire dream feeling incredulous that I had died once and wondering how I died before. I also wondered whether I was to die again. Or just fade away. There were so many things I have yet to do. It was a melancholic feeling.

In the end I decided that "perhaps i will live forever."

Or "perhaps I will just live on, normally, until old age. Or something like that. As if the first death was just a dream."

And then I woke up.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A singer who became a Buddhist nun.

There are only two buses a day that go from Honjo to Tokyo, one at 11 in the morning, the other at 7:45 in the evening. Miss any one of them and I would have to take the Shinkansen train home (3200 yen for a ride). Obviously, I chose not to pay for such a fee (after taking one here two nights ago) after I was done with LAST FRAGMENTS OF WINTER, I decided to wait it out for the evening bus.

I had already made backups with my hard disk, made a HDcam, burnt a DVD, it was 4pm. I headed to the lab for a nap.

Suddenly I was in the courtyard of a Buddhist temple, there were a number of monks and nuns before me. A nun was introduced to me by a monk, she had plain features, seemed slightly older than me, late 20s, or early 30s?

"She was once a singer." The monk said. "She sang a famous song called Huo Che (火车 "train" in Chinese)."

"Oh!" I nodded in recognition, but making a mental note that I would Google the song and check the name of the singer. I started reaching for my iPhone...

I then found myself in an old house, filled with narrow corridors, and grey walls. It was dimly-lit, the lightbulbs above me flickering softly. The me in the dream was immediately aware that I was in a house that was supposed to belong to my grandparents. I remembered it because my mother had told me that before, I tried searching through my memories to see when my mother had told me about this house, but it was to no avail, so as I continued walking, I started suspecting that I was in a dream.

I went on and saw a long-haired woman standing at the door, her back facing me.

As she slowly turned, my mind said:

You do NOT want to see her face, wake up now.

I opened my eyes, and found myself standing faraway from a house on a tiny hill, which, immediately, I knew was the house that was supposed to belong to my grandparents. I heard some noises and whirled about, then I saw two cars having been flipped upside down, spinning and spinning, like a top, they were in flames. I thought of tortoises.

A crowd had gathered, coming closer towards the spinning cars, witnessing the commotion.

And then people in colourful garments jumped out of the cars, and there was suddenly a carnival, filled with dancing people, a massive bustling crowd and the like.

I then found myself walking away from the carnival with my mother, and looking at the house on the hill again.

"You remember this house, right?" My mom said.

I nodded.

"Your poor grandmother. I was going to buy this house for her." My mom said, referring to her own mother.

I thought it was strange, since I was aware that the house on the hill belonged to my father's parents, whom I have never met. The house had nothing to do with my mother's mother...

Yes, I was still in a dream then.

Then I thought of my grandmother anyway, her Alzheimer's had gotten progressively worse in recent years, and she has had trouble recognizing me these days. Nonetheless many times I have seen her, she seemed happy.

"Nothing poor about her." I said to my mother.

I paused, and then asked my mom, who was a pop singer, about the nun I met at the temple courtyard earlier. A former singer who became a nun, who sang a song about trains?

My mother then asked me. "Do you remember a primary school teacher you used to have, whose name you always got wrong?"

"Miss Zhan?" Realization dawned upon me, there was a pulsating orchestra piece swirling about me.

"She died, you were just a child then, we didn't let you know. Maybe she became a nun." My mother said.

I tried to remember the face of the nun, and also the face of Miss Zhan.

Then I woke up.

For real.

On the couch of my lab.

My grandparents never owned a house on a scenic house.

I vaguely remember a Miss Zhan who taught my class for a few short months when I was in standard 4. She left to continue her studies in another state. But I had never gotten her name wrong.

Also, her face and the nun's was rather different.

I got up and headed to the computer, for an instant, I was thinking of Googling a song and the name of its singer.

Finishing the postproduction of LAST FRAGMENTS OF WINTER

I have just spent another night in the ARTS AND SCIENCE CENTER in Honjo, which has state of the art postproduction facilities and is where I was putting the finishing touches on my latest film LAST FRAGMENTS OF WINTER.

If I knew I were going to end up here for two nights, I should have brought my toothpaste and toothbrush, and extra clothes. As I am typing this, I haven't brushed my teeth nor showered for 2 days. It's a little gross.

So, the entire day yesterday was spent with Segawa-san and the folks of Sound Box for the sound design of my film.

Sound work for LAST FRAGMENTS OF WINTER


Segawa-san bought me food that lasted for an entire day.

Food for me during sound mixing session


It was a session that lasted around 13-14 straight hours. We all forgot about dinners brought for us.

As they worked on the sound stuff, fiddling on the technical stuff that I knew nothing about, I ended up dozing off on this special director's couch.

My favourite sleeping couch in the sound mixing studio


It wasn't until evening when they started showing me their work in its entirety. And it was then that I could finally direct and supervise stuff.

Sound mixing session continues for LAST FRAGMENTS OF WINTER


Preparing to view the finished product


I amused myself when I realized how anal I actually am when it comes to this aspect of filmmaking. As opposed to my usual spontaneous, improvisational methods during a shoot.

"Fade out the sound just a second before she smiles, not TWO, one second!"

"eliminate the sound of her rustling clothes too."

"The wind in the background, can it become a breeze instead?"

"Let's layer the music with the sound of Malaysian densha (I was referring to the LRT trains). Hmm, not soothing enough, switch to Japanese densha then."

"I feel uncomfortable with the sudden motorbike sound in the background. Prolong it so it's less distracting?"

"I want to time the beat of the music with these cuts"

"Transition sound 2 secs before scene transition, kid is lost in his memory!"

Those were some of the adjustments I did during the session. It all turned out well and by midnight everything was done.

I returned to the couch and slept for more than 7 hours.

Right now I'm waiting for everything to be settled, making a master HDcam SR of the film, burning DVD screeners, then, perhaps I can go home.

Location:Honjo,Japan

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sound work for LAST FRAGMENTS OF WINTER

After spending the whole night finalizing the editing of my film and preparing it for sound work, I am now in the sound studio, having just woken up from a brief nap (I didn't sleep much last night, and there isn't much for me to do now)

In the audio mixing room


Helping me with sound mixing is Mr Tetsuo Segawa, four time Japan Academy Award winner who did sounds for numerous major Japanese films, and even classics like Ashita no Joe (the anime, not the live-action feature that came out few months ago, along with AKIRA.

Yup, that seminal anime AKIRA. When I first saw the film at the age of 10, I never expected that 17 years later, I would be working with the folks behind its sound. It's a surreal feeling.

The sound effects are done by Sound Box, who had also worked on anime like COWBOY BEBOP and stuff. Well, I guess my new film isn't going to have bad sound.

Right now I'm still sitting at the corner of the room, looking all director-like, you know. But mostly to get out of the way as they do the, er, sound stuff.

Audio mixing stuff...

Guess they'll ask me for opinions if they need it...

Location:Misato,Japan

I'm really going through 100 Years of Solitude

I ordered a copy of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE two nights ago, then I received the book a couple of hours later on a Saturday morning from Amazon Japan. I started reading the book around 11pm, and before I realized it, the sun was already rising and it was dawn already.

I slept at 6am and woke up almost at noon. Then I resumed reading, and finished the book a couple of hours later. I didn't expect to finish this great literary work in almost one sitting, in a lazy eventless Sunday.

The following day, I was supposed to head to Honjo, which is in Saitama and more than hour away from Tokyo, to put on the finishing touches on my latest film LAST FRAGMENTS OF WINTER. State-of-the-art postproduction facilities are there. Many major films that Waseda University had provided technical support for were done here. (THE MAGIC HOUR, JAPAN SINKS, HIDDEN FORTRESS, MONKEY MAGIC, SUSPECT X etc.)

Honjo Arts And Science Center


So it was a good Sunday for me to rest up my energies, soak in ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE, ponder about my own solitude which had seemingly lasted for a hundred years in the past week as I isolated myself from the rest of the world to finish my film.

It was evening and I headed off to do some grocery shopping. I had embark upon an epic quest to clean up my room during the weekend, the first time it had ever undergone one since the recent 2008.

When I returned to my room, the sky has darkened and I allowed myself to fall into a light nap while listening to Kanye West's MY BEAUTIFUL DARK TWISTED FANTASY. Yes, a lazy Sunday indeed...

The nap lasted for one track before I was awakened by a phone call by Miyako (producer).

Bad news. Certain technical problems have happened at Honjo. It's complicated to explain (Malaysians shoot films on 25 frames per second, Japanese usually go for 24 frames per second. To go through their postproduction process, I have to convert stuff to 24 frames. Alas, some mistakes occurred during my conversion)

"You have to go to Honjo now." Miyako said.

"Now?" I was hesitant. Mostly because Honjo can only be reached via 3000 yen Shinkansen (bullet train) i looked at the watch, it was going to be 9pm.

But knowing that I had to go to ensure the completion of the film. I packed some bread and cookies and left my place. I knew it was going to be an all-nighter.

Two hours later, I reached the Art and Science Center in Honjo.

Corridor of Honjo Arts and Science center (Waseda University)


I was given a plate of curry rice. Which allowed me to save the bread and cookies for tomorrow.

Curry rice before an all-nighter


It's 2am now. I'm here in the editing room.

Editing lab at Honjo Art and Science center


Waiting. And waiting.

Waiting for Final Cut Pro

Editing is never really part of the hard work. Rendering and exporting your video into a file is. For a 25 min film, such processes run for an hour. And there is nothing else to do aside blogging, facebooking, tweeting, walking around, etc.

Location:Honjo,Japan

Friday, April 22, 2011

KINGYO receives Silver Horse from 19th Mediterranean Festival of New Filmmakers - Larissa

Last week, just a day before I left for Tokyo, and when I was undergoing this interview with China Press (the one mentioned in the previous post) I suddenly received an email from the Mediterranean Festival of New Film-makers in Larissa, Greece, that my short film KINGYO had received the Silver Horse. (Golden Horse went to the Greek short CASUS BELLI by Yiorgos Zois).

I'm very honoured. It's been nearly two years since KINGYO (trailer) world premiered in Venice. Knowing that it is still being played before appreciative audiences is a joy, and it also validates the fact that the efforts put in by my cast and crew were totally worth it.

This morning, I finally received the trophy and certificate they sent me.


Silver Horse trophy for Kingyo from Mediterranean Festival of New Film-makers - Larissa 2011

Certificate for Kingyo from Mediterranean Festival of New Film-makers - Larissa 2011


It's kinda strange, but this is actually the first ever award I've received from a European film festival. And to come from Greece too.

2 years ago, my short film CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY was invited to Naoussa International Film Festival, it was the first ever film fest in Europe to actually invite any of my shorts. And Naoussa is also in Greece.

I guess it's some type of 'Yuanfen' I have with the Greeks! ('Yuanfen' is a Buddhist-related Chinese concept about how fate binds two parties together due to previous incarnations, it's also similar to Carl Jung's concept of synchronicity)

楊毅恆:電影是家人共同語言 Edmund Yeo: Film is my family's common language

It had been raining the last few days, all traces of cherry blossoms are gone, aside from some petals scattered on the ground.

Ever since I came back to Tokyo, I had been working around the clock to finalize the editing of my new film, LAST FRAGMENTS OF WINTER. Professor Ando (executive producer!) had hired the services of professional (and legendary) sound mixers and sound effects companies for the post-production, I'm very blessed.

Two nights ago, I was made aware by a former schoolmate of mine that the Malaysian Chinese paper China Press' interview with me (and my mom), which I did just a day before I left Malaysia, was available online (Chinese only).


楊毅恆:電影是家人共同語言 (中国报 2011.04.03)


It was a nice article that mentioned briefly about me picking up the Azusa Ono Memorial Award from Waseda University (being the first foreigner and all), my foray to Japan since 2008, the influences my parents had on me regarding my passion for films etc.

Of course, most interestingly, my mother was interviewed too.

(Although I don't mention it much, but some of you might know that my mom was a pop singer before her marriage, retired after that, kept a low-profile since then. Growing up, those who were aware of who my mom was wrongly assumed that I inherited her singing talents. They were disappointed. Alas, I never became a superstar singer.)

I'm flattered by the recent media coverage, it's good to shed some light upon Waseda University, Professor Ando, and the films that my cast and crew had poured their heart and soul into. I'm here today because of them anyway.

I would like to point out though that not everything is that glamourous, and it's really not about the glamour. Look at it this way, while a nice newspaper article about me had just came out in Malaysia, I am here in Tokyo, thousands of kilometers away, undergoing a solitary confinement of sorts in the editing room, with minimal face-to-face human interaction, with my eyes fixed upon the computer the whole time as I adjust my shots, doing colour correction, waiting for the rendering, the exporting etc. Editing, as much as I love it, can sometimes be a rather arduous task. And lonely too, when you don't have anyone anymore (like, say, a producer) to come and check your progress.

Nope, I can assure you, my dear readers, being a filmmaker is really not just about sitting there and yelling "action!" and "cut!".

Now I switch to Chinese.

大家好,昨天上『中国报』了。 荣幸, 但也只可以带这平常心。 我回了东京后都不停地为新作品『冬天, 最后的碎片』赶后期制作。 单独的待在剪接房, 对着电脑, 也很少机会跟任何人沟通, 真的变成宅男了。 拍片并不是一件简单的事, 这几天的辛苦也算是成功的代价, 当然, 也不敢说自己是成功的, 只是坚持走自己的路, 希望可以再次拍一部好作品, 不辜负班底还有演员们对我的信任, 这就是我身为一个小导演的责任。 好, 继续剪接。

以下的就是那文章。 ( 原文在此。)

楊毅恆:電影是家人共同語言

報導:李毓康 
攝影:陳梓健


立志當導演,一直是楊毅恆從小的夢想。當兒時玩伴都在玩“家家酒”時,他卻找三五個朋友來演戲,自己當起導演。當然,小孩子的童玩遊戲,誰也不曾認真過,可他自此與“電影”結下難以割捨的情意結……

當年五歲的楊毅恆一句“我長大要當導演”被視為戲言,誰也沒料到他日后真的憑自己的努力圓夢,得獎無數。今年三月,楊毅恆更獲得日本早稻田大學頒發《小野梓紀念藝術賞》,是早稻田有史以來第一位外國華裔留學生獲得這個殊榮。

“得到這個獎,心裡有說不出的激動。它是由早稻田大學創辦人小野梓在1959年設立,分別表揚在運動、學術及藝術三個領域,有傑出表現或成就的學生。一直以來,多由一些在世界級舞台有非凡成績的日本人‘佔有’,自己能成為第一位得獎的外國華裔,當然意義非凡……”

楊毅恆:電影是家人共同語言 (中国报 2011.04.03) 2

楊毅恆笑言,從小到大很愛日本漫畫,也因此對于日本存有很大的好奇心,在瞭解這個國家的過程中,深受其文化影響。

“2008年獲得獎學金,有機會在東京的早稻田大學讀電影碩士。那時候有點依依不捨,因為從澳洲回到老家馬來西亞,剛認識了我現在的拍檔胡明進,進入他的一人公司(通行電影GREENLIGHT PICTURES),當了他的製片。一年不到,就要去日本,必須拋開自己的事業,重新開始學生生活。”

不停拍電影學習

到了日本,楊毅恆對電影又有了另一番體會。“我的教授安籐礦平老師跟我說,學習電影最好的辦法,就是不停拍電影、不停摸索。安籐老師本身也是導演,所以他瞭解我之前的想法,只要我寫了一個劇本,他給的只是意見,並非教導我。”

“教授也會想辦法資助我的作品。在這樣的環境下創作拍電影,我覺得自己是幸運的。結果,他們資助的第一部作品《金魚》,入圍2009年威尼斯影展。”

接著,楊毅恆經常返回大馬,更與導演胡明進合拍了《虎廠》,入圍康城電影節的“導演雙周”單元,更在東京電影節的“亞洲之風”單元,獲得評審特別推薦獎。

現在,楊毅恆才體會到自己能在兩國之間“活動”,是一種難求的幸福,也是珍貴無比的學習經驗。

沒有最好,只有做得更好

楊毅恆喜歡幻想、愛創作,也喜歡看小說,中學時代就開始寫作,所以很多時候活在自己想像的世界。“因此,我一直認為拍戲是表達自己世界最好的方法,希望可以尋找到一些與自己有共同點的人,與他們分享。觀眾不喜歡我的作品無所謂,我會繼續磨練、摸索,希望下一次能進步。

“或許你會問:最滿意的是哪一部作品?我會告訴你:是接下來的一部!哈!我如此說,是因為每一部作品,我都付出100%的心血製作。完成后,又有新的構思點子,期望在下部新片會用上。只有不斷精益求精,電影路上才會走得更遠。”

“在我的人生裡,電影和生活的關係密不可分。人生如戲嘛,我的作品都來自自己生活上經歷的見聞。當中不一定是發生在自己身上的,可能是對某人某事一瞬間的一種感情、情意結,都可伸延伸成故事,放在作品內。”

“靈感嘛?可能來自所發的夢、所看的電影、所閱讀的小說,或所遇見的人的故事。我自己是工作狂,最愛的也可能是拍戲,所以我寧願不停在周圍尋找靈感,大學每年都會贊助機票,讓自己有機會到處見識,這才是我最享受的。”

學會融會貫通,與人分享

楊毅恆笑言,每年都回到大馬拍短片。把跟日本教授學到的好東西,接觸到的不同文化及不同人物帶來的衝擊,帶回來大馬;或把本地的東西帶去日本,蠻有趣的。

“畫面有趣,但是抽象不夠具體,或拍得太過文藝,這是我最初拍片獲得的評價。當時許多人都問我:為何不拍一些可以跟更多人分享的電影?這算是一個小教訓,也是很重要的經驗。經過多年摸索,我也認清世界上不能只有藝術片而沒有商業片。當然,也不能儘是商業元素,這兩者要互依共存。”

有了無數次的短片拍攝經驗后,楊毅恆深深體會到不能一廂情願以為自己喜歡的,觀眾也會喜歡,或自己明白的,觀眾也一定會明白!

電影原本就是一種創作,一種分享。“我想拍一些多年后仍會被人記住的電影。如果電影只拍給自己看,會很寂寞。”

戚舜琴:看電影造就了他…

自從淡出娛樂圈,昔日的歌后戚舜琴生活得怡然自得,除了忙碌事業,把更多時間放在家庭上,享受天倫樂。

楊毅恆:電影是家人共同語言 (中国报 2011.04.03) 3


對于兒子楊毅恆的成就,戚舜琴掩不住喜悅笑說,“這是毅恆的努力,也幸運一路走來,遇到不少貴人扶持。他真的好愛拍攝,走到哪,拍到哪,無時無刻都在拍。導演夢和一架數碼攝錄機,一直是他隨身攜帶的‘必需品’。我的許多生活照,都是他在‘背后’拍下的,很多時候,上到他的Facebook才看到。哈哈!”

戚舜琴透露,從小到大,楊毅恆受了父母影響,非常熱愛電影。“我和丈夫常帶小時候的他到處去看電影,當時他很好奇,電影是怎樣來的?有一次,他和我們一起看恐怖片,覺得很可怕,不敢看,我就對他說‘不用怕,這些都是假的,都是導演製造出來的一些效果。怪獸是假的。’聽了之后,他就開始覺得導演太帥了,根本像神一樣。那時他只有五六歲,就開始發導演夢,之后不停朝這夢想前進。”

“有時我會想,我懷孕時,常和丈夫到處看電影,嗯,曾試過兩天內看了五部電影,不知是否胎教的關係,毅恆才會對電影如此著迷,哈哈!”

父母愛看電影,影響楊毅恆至深,他們常偕伴看電影、討論電影。電影是培養和維繫他們的一條非常重要的感情線,也成了他們的共同語言。

相信就是最好的支持

“對于當導演,毅恆從沒有抱玩票心態面對。他給我看到的是,始終堅持創作的誠意,與永不間斷地自我突破。

“就在兒子下定決心當導演時,戚舜琴曾善意提醒他,這個娛樂圈子充滿許多現實阻礙。他卻對我說,想要成功就不能想會有什么挫折。我在想,這兒子應該多少算是屬于不停去撞板的人吧!”

戚舜琴坦言,兒子自小懂得自律,從不需要她擔心,或許對于他的選擇,應該相信和尊重。或許目前為止看似一帆風順的人生,“撞板”或“撞墻”對他來說,不見得是壞事。“我覺得他目前希望獲得我們精神上的支持,還有對他的瞭解。相信他,讓他可以安心去創作,去拍電影,這就是我和丈夫能為他做,及應做的事了。”

Friday, April 15, 2011

At least there're still some cherry blossoms around

A couple of days ago, I tweeted a sudden desire to quote the ending monologue of my short film INHALATION delivered by Mei (played by Susan Lee Fong Zhi), even though I generally don't quote stuff from my own works due to my own modesty.

But then, I lamented the fact that I would miss the cherry blossoms this year. Ever a bittersweet sight for me, sweet due to its indescribable beauty, bitter because it signals the end of winter (my true love).

Thus the quote:

"if I were still in Japan, I could probably see the cherry blossoms. Petals drifting rhythmically in the air. Then they fall soundlessly. What a lovely sight it could have been."

(part of the actual monologue is in the trailer)


Trailer


So I reached Tokyo late last night, and made it back to my place after midnight. Everything was dark, darker due to recent attempts at energy conservation, I couldn't see my surroundings at all.

When I woke up this morning, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were still a little bit of cherry blossoms left on the tree outside my room.

I left and walked past Kanta river, the place where I shot the ending of Inhalation.

Kanta river lined with cherry blossom trees


I saw a koi fish and wondered whether it was the same one that appeared in the film.

Some cherry blossom petals floating through the river


Hours later, I went to Toho Studio to see the progress of the sound mixing for my new film.

At the nearby river, I saw some nice little flowers as well.

Nogawa river


How much longer are they going to last, these cherry blossoms?

Cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms 2


Catching a glimpse of them today, I think it's enough to last me for another year.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A feast before returning to Tokyo

I'm now at the LCCT airport waiting for the plane back to Tokyo.

Had a lavish meal yesterday evening with family and aunt and cousin Weesuan and cousin-in-law Timothy. Naturally we had something that I ain't getting in Malaysia. Yummy stewed duck and clams...


And Fuyong egg too. Despite the intimidatingly large amount of food we ordered, we finished them all effortlessly.


I ate like a king yesterday, but it's back to being a peasant again in Tokyo. (where I usually skip meals, or eat minimally )

I'm returning to Japan mostly to finalize the post-production of my new film LAST FRAGMENTS OF WINTER.

Need to wait another 20 mins before boarding, bored out of my skull, sleepy too

Location:Jalan Sungai Merab,Kajang,Malaysia

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I was on NTV7 News (10th of April, 2011)

I was interviewed by NTV7.

Just went through an interview at NTV7  on Twitpic


It was for the Mandarin news at 9:30pm. It's not everyday that I get to see myself on TV, when the news was on air two days ago, I did what a normal person with an iPhone would do: film the news with my iPhone.

Aspect ratio made me look all squashed up and fat. I'm usually rather gorgeous and less fat.



Actual video here.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Yumcha

Maybank nasi lemak

I always thought that it is a cliche for a Malaysian staying in another country to lament about the lack of mamak stalls, yet alas this is what I'm going to do.

Not that I intend to whine about its absence when I return to Tokyo next week, but more on how fond I really am of these places right now as I am chilling, for a brief while, in Malaysia.

Original Kayu


The whole act of asking old friends out, going to a nearby mamak stall, ordering my favorite iced milk tea (occasionally I go for iced lemon tea), chatting our butts off about nothing can sometimes be such a mundane, yet strangely endearing lifestyle for us. I can never really understand why.

Location:Jalan Semangat,Petaling Jaya,Malaysia

首名外國學生獲小野梓藝術獎‧導演楊毅恆揚名日本 Filmmaker Edmund Yeo becomes first foreigner to receive Ono Azusa Memorial Award for Art

首名外國學生獲小野梓藝術獎‧導演楊毅恆揚名日本 (星洲日報‧2011.04.03)


When your internet connection at home is so bad, it's demotivating to even go online, hence the lack of blog updates in the past few days. (aside from occasionally checking emails, and Facebook, I've been mostly kinda "off the grid", for the sake of reducing frustration and agony over crap Internet connection. I remember having faster internet connection during my dial-up days)

Anyway, I was on Sinchew Daily 3 days ago, on the 4th of April (Monday). It's basically an article about me receiving the Ono Azusa Memorial Award on the 26th last month.

One amusing thing when I went through the interview last Saturday was that I had difficulty trying to translate my recent favourite mantra "Anything less than awesome is failure", somehow the word "awesome" escaped my limited Mandarin vocabulary. So the translation ended up becoming "Anything less than perfect is failure" which made me sound even hardcore, or crazier. At least I had an easier time with "99 percent is still NOT 100 percent".

Anyway, I have posted the entire article below, (original article here, which has a funny little typo that I will not draw any attention to)

Now, I will switch to Chinese.

大家好, 我前几天已经在Twitter分享了被星洲日报刊登在早稻田大学获奖的事情。 如果你错过了, 以下就是那天的文章。

很荣幸。

(原文在

雪蘭莪‧八打靈再也3日訊)“可能是因為科技的進步,讓我覺得人人都可以拍電影;因此,就買了一部錄影機,找了一群朋友,嘗試開始拍‘電影’。就這樣,看似不切實際的夢想成真了。”

大馬新晉導演楊毅恆在今年3月26日獲得日本早稻田大學“2010年度小野梓紀念獎——藝術紀念獎”,並且是該獎項設立52年以來,首位獲頒該獎項的外國留學生。

他對拿到該獎項感到非常驚訝,同時也很感動,因為評審們覺得他對藝術界是有貢獻的。

“我還蠻驚訝的,覺得日本也蠻開放,沒想到他們會把這個獎頒給外國人,很感動。”

憑3作品得獎

他憑其作品《金魚》、《虎廠》和《都是正常的》獲得該項獎項。小野梓紀念獎是紀念日本早稻田大學合夥創建人小野梓而設立的。

該獎設立於1959年,以表揚上學年度,在學術領域、藝術創作及體育方面有傑出表現的學生或學生團體。

楊毅恆說,除了獲得獎學金以外,從小就喜歡看漫畫和聽日本歌曲;對日本的欣賞,促使他決定到日本唸書和磨練。

享受拍攝過程
面對變數樂在其中


拍電影過程雖然會面對許多變數,但是楊毅恆常享受拍攝過程中的那些快感,並不會覺得辛苦。

“當別人問我,拍了那麼多短片,哪一部是最好的?我會覺得下一部將會是最好的,因為這讓我有繼續拍攝下去的熱忱。”

深受父親楊劍影響

他表示,拍電影是從小的夢想,也深受父親楊立群(前大馬寶麗金唱片掌舵人,常以筆名楊劍發表影評)的影響;小時候常常和家人到電影院看電影,因此非常好奇的想知道電影的由來。

“我們一家人幾乎每個星期都去看電影,它已經成為生活中的一部份了。”

他追憶年約5歲,看著恐怖的怪獸片時,母親為了安撫他,便說:“不用害怕,一切都是導演弄出來的”,讓他深深的感覺到導演的魅力。

“聽到媽媽的回答後,就覺得,哇!原來導演那麼厲害的,那我也要當導演。從那時開始就奠定了我想要成為導演的夢想。”

他說,爸爸是影評人對他來說並沒有甚麼壓力;相反的,父子倆會不時分享看電影的心得;電影已成為兩父子的話題和溝通的媒介。

“父母沒有阻止我,對我來說,就已經是最大的鼓勵。”

靈感來自周圍事件
多以浪漫方式呈現


楊毅恆目前正在剪接一部短片,以及籌備拍一部電影。

他表示,拍電影的想法都是從周圍所發生的事情得到靈感的;同時,作品中也比較喜歡以浪漫的或非現實的故事方法來呈現。

不完美就是失敗

楊毅恆對作品的要求非常的高,他覺得“不完美的,就是失敗”;因此,凡事都會要求盡善盡美,同時也會為自己的作品盡最大的努力。

“即使是99%,都不是100%。拍電影最重要的是盡自己最大的努力,這樣才會拍出好的作品。”

“有時候,人家以為電影只是娛樂,而忽略了其文學價值;其實各類型的電影都應該給予重視,且取得平衡的發展。”

他指出,電影是一個美好的平台,可讓觀眾有很好的思想空間。

星洲日報‧2011.04.03

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Buddhist ceremony for Qingming Festival

Tomorrow is Qingming Festival, also known as Ancestors Day or Tomb Sweeping Day. It is the day when people enjoy the beginning of spring (doesn't apply to tropical Malaysia) and tend to the graves of their departed ones.

A week-long Buddhist praying ceremony is held at the Cempaka Buddhist Lodge (I shot my new short there two weeks ago) that my mom had been attending. I've been to the place a few times in the past few years during the annual ceremony and I always liked how the praying hall is decorated.


Prayer hall decorated for the Qingming ceremony

Prayer hall decorated for the Qingming ceremony 2

Prayer hall decorated for the Qingming ceremony 3

Prayer Hall decorated for Buddhist ceremony 4


There was a table for my ancestors, grandparents, and my recently departed uncle.

Table for my ancestors and other departed ones


This year, a makeshift altar had also been added for the victims of the March 11 Sendai Earthquake and Tsunami, along with a donation drive.

Altar for the victims of the Earthquake and Tsunami victims

Altar for the victims of the Earthquake and Tsunami victims 2

Mom lighting up an incense for the Japanese earthquake and tsunami victims

Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster Relief Fund


Location:Jalan 20/13,Petaling Jaya,Malaysia

Friday, April 01, 2011

Tan Chui Mui's YEAR WITHOUT A SUMMER (Berkelana) press screening

I went to the press screening of Tan Chui Mui's sophomore feature YEAR WITHOUT A SUMMER last night, which was held outdoors at the fields of Sri Petaling school.

Guests at the press conference were (aside from Mui the director): James Lee the executive producer, Liew Seng Tat the producer, Azman Hassan the Actor, Azmyl Yunor the composer and
Pete Teo who served as sound designer, etc.

Azmyl Yunor performed a song prior to the screening.

Asst director Fei Ling (bottom left) was busy as usual.

Tan Chui Mui's YEAR WITHOUT A SUMMER press screening


Mui and Seng Tat the producer gave a short speech.

Tan Chui Mui's YEAR WITHOUT A SUMMER press screening 2


The film then started screening. It was an interesting experience, to have an outdoor screening. Reminded me of the closing screenings at the Pusan (now Busan) International Film Festivals.

Tan Chui Mui's YEAR WITHOUT A SUMMER press screening 3


Speaking of Busan, that's where I first saw YEAR WITHOUT A SUMMER. I personally liked it more than Mui's debut film LOVE CONQUERS ALL (more than 4 years ago, before I became an actual filmmaker and was writing film reviews for this blog, I wrote something about LOVE CONQUERS ALL here), especially the cinematography from the first half was quite nice.
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