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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Trailer of Asian Three-fold Mirror 2016 : Reflections (Brillante Mendoza, Isao Yukisada and Sotho Kulikar)

Earlier this year, I was involved as one of the producers for director Isao Yukisada's "Pigeon", his segment for the omnibus project Asian Three-fold Mirror 2016: Reflections 『アジア三面鏡2016:リフレクションズ』 (check out the photos posted by cast and crew), produced by The Japan Foundation Asian Center and Tokyo International Film Festival.

Its trailer is finally out!

English version.

And Japanese version.

The Japan Foundation Asia Center and Tokyo International Film Festival have co-produced the first of the Asian Omnibus Film series, Asian Three-Fold Mirror 2016: Reflections.

The Asian Three-Fold Mirror project brings together three globally-acclaimed, talented directors from Asia to co-create a series of omnibus films with a common theme. The first of the omnibus film series, Asian Three-Fold Mirror 2016, reflects on history and culture in their chosen countries to create new light. Under the theme of “Living in Asia”, crew and cast joined forces across national borders to depict the lives of characters who journey between Japan and Cambodia, the Philippines and Malaysia. New films have been created to help bring together the people in Asia.

“Asian Three-Fold Mirror 2016: Reflections”
■SHINIUMA Dead Horse
■”Beyond The Bridge”

Co-production by The Japan Foundation Asia Center & Tokyo International Film Festival / Supported by Imagica / General Producer: TAKEO HISAMATSU 
(C)2016 The Japan Foundation, All Rights Reserved.



Monday, July 18, 2016

Shohei Imamura's Karayuki-san, the Making of a Prostitute (1975)

Five years ago, I wrote about the Karayuki-san. The Japanese women who were sold or smuggled into Southeast Asia (mostly pre-independence Malaysia and Singapore) to work as prostitute from the late 19th century to early 20th century.

For reasons I cannot comprehend or explain, it became something that had haunted my mind for the past half decade. Maybe because this was a part of Japanese/ Malaysian history (countries obviously close to my heart) that was gradually being forgotten, so I became increasingly curious, and determined to commit their stories into film.

There are publications about them, but films? The only ones I am aware of are still Kumai Kei's Oscar-nominated SANDAKAN NO. 8 (1974) and Shohei Imamura's KARAYUKI-SAN, THE MAKING OF A PROSTITUTE (1975). The former is a fictionalized retelling of their plight, the latter is a documentary.

I finally found time to watch the documentary last night. In the documentary, the director Shohei Imamura was interviewing an old lady named Kikuyo Zendo, a former Karayuki-san. As they walked through familiar places like Klang and revisit locations of her memories, before finally revealing that at that time she was staying at Petaling Jaya, I was sort of shocked. Was she staying within my neighbourhood? Where I live now is an area that had existed long before my birth. In 30 years of my life I have been staying mostly in this house. A decade or two before my birth, she was probably roaming the same area.

People come and go, history happens, time is constantly moving. I don't know why this felt like such a big deal. Perhaps I am not used to seeing familiar places from a different time through the prisms of another.

In this effortless documentary I relearned many things that I have learnt during my years of researching the Karayuki-san, while also getting nuggets of information that I never knew before. When everything is recounted in first person, and committed to celluloid, the feeling is a little different from reading it from books.

This documentary is hard to find, I think it's still included in Shohei Imamura's A Man Vanishes DVD.

But you can find the entire film on Youtube, unfortunately, it only has French subtitles. Yet if you are curious, I still recommend that you scan through the film. Many of it transcend language anyway.

One thing I need to note is that many publications and articles about this documentary, including the seminal AH KU AND THE KARAYUKI-SAN book have mentioned that the locales visited by Imamura and Kikuyo were in Singapore.

But watching the documentary myself. I'm rather sure that all of Kikuyo's interviews were conducted in Malaysia, in areas around Kuala Lumpur. Like Cheras (the nursing home), Klang (the port at the opening, the ship, the previous brothels), Petaling Jaya (Kikuyo's home) etc. Even the cemetery they went to seemed very much like the Japanese cemetery in Kuala Lumpur, and not Singapore.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Remembering Abbas Kiarostami and rediscovering his films

Ever since the passing of the Iranian master Abbas Kiarostami, I've found myself remembering the brief personal memories I have of him. They were all very fleeting.

With Abbas Kiarostami, Cannes 2010

Ming Jin and Fooi Mun with Abbas Kiarostami
Cannes Film Festival 2010

Merely that Ming Jin and I, along with Fooi Mun, our The Tiger Factory lead actress saw him at the MK2 party and had to hurriedly (and politely) stop him to take these photos before he was about to leave.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

WATCH: Woo Ming Jin's 2005 short film CATCHING THE SEA

Once again I've been restoring and uploading some of the old short films that Ming Jin and I had made over the past decade onto the Greenlight Pictures Youtube channel.

My latest upload is Ming Jin's 2005 short film CATCHING THE SEA, which stars Pete Teo and Liew Seng Tat and served as a precursor (or spin-off) for his feature film THE ELEPHANT AND THE SEA.

Treasure trove of Andrei Tarkovsky videos

Recently, as I was finishing up a making-of documentary that I was working on in the past few months, I decided to do some research on other great making-of documentaries. It's always great to seek inspiration from the masters, and I was also thinking of an Andrei Tarkovsky documentary that I watched on Youtube a year or two ago, Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky.

Thanks to Cinephilia & Beyond's comprehensive article on documentaries of Andrei Tarkovsky, I learnt of a great Youtube channel which had uploaded some really great Tarkovsky interviews and documentaries.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

AFTERNOON RIVER, EVENING SKY, my 2010 short film

The past few weeks I've been uploading some of the older films, shorts and telemovies that Ming Jin and I had done over the past decade on the Greenlight Pictures Youtube channel.

Last night I've uploaded AFTERNOON RIVER, EVENING SKY.

I made this short film in 2009. Because it had the misfortune of being made between my (relatively more high-profiled short films) KINGYO and the INHALATION/ EXHALATION pair, this short (along with a few others I made within those few months) kinda got lost in the shuffle.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Nicole赖淞凤【和时光拔河】 官方完整版 MV

The music video I directed for pop star Nicole Lai is finally out! Had a lot of fun doing this, time was short, I shot this during a brief break between two festival trips. Please check it out!

Now I switch back to Chinese.

前天与大家分享了MV的预告片, 昨晚Nicole赖淞凤的【和时光拔河】完整版MV终于出炉了!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Singaporean premiere of Woo Ming Jin's RETURN TO NOSTALGIA

Aside from The Second Life of Thieves now being available for viewing at FilmDoo, Woo Ming Jin's latest work, the documentary, Return to Nostalgia (which I executive produced and did the colour grading)

The 55-minute film will be having its Singapore premiere on 30th June, 7:30pm as part of the Singapore International Festival of Arts. Screening will be held at The Projector! Apply for a pass (so you can catch all screenings at the festival) or buy a single ticket here:

In fact, the version screened in Singapore will actually be a brand new version of the film. As I start to understand more on how to use Da Vinci Resolve during the past few weeks for colour grading, I decided to take his film and rework it again, being not too happy with its look in its previous iterations. It was good practice, and I regret a little that I didn't know how to use Da Vinci Resolve earlier.

Filmmaker Woo Ming Jin and his crew travel across the peninsula of Malaysia and Singapore in search of the lost film Seruan Merdeka (1947). Seruan Merdeka is the first post World War II film made in Malaya. It is also the first film in the history of Malaysian cinema to feature a biracial cast of Malays and Chinese.
While gradually uncovering information about the lost film, a doorway into one of Malaya’s most turbulent times – the Japanese Occupation – is revealed. In their recollection of the past, the crew gathers together testimonies and interviews from locals across all races and walks of life in an effort to examine the country’s history. Long forgotten memories of abandoned theatres, unspoken histories and lost films are brought to the surface in a startling confrontation between cinema and reality.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Nicole 赖淞凤 【和时光拔河】 MV 30秒预告 (30-second trailer of a music video I did)

前阵子执导了歌手NICOLE赖淞凤的【和时光拔河】MV, 听说已经在电视上播放了。 我自己什么都不知道, 只是昨天晚上在脸书上被人TAG了(好像是NICOLE的个人户口), 才有机会看看这MV的30秒预告片!

THE SECOND LIFE OF THIEVES go to FilmDoo! + THE SECOND LIFE OF THIEVES interview with Woo Ming Jin

THE SECOND LIFE OF THIEVES (2014) by Woo Ming Jin, which I produced, co-wrote and edited, has been released digitally on FilmDoo! So please, go and watch it, I promise you it's something different from this part of the world. It's probably one of the rare gay films made in Malaysia.

Aside from that, FilmDoo had also done a really cool interview with Ming Jin about the film.