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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Liew Seng Tat's 'Flower In The Pocket' Won 2 Awards At Pusan International Film Festival

(Blog post no. 999. Look out for the next one, I'm announcing a contest.)

Liew Seng Tat, in a photo taken by Tan Chui Mui

I'm a couple of days late, but gonna post this:

Liew Seng Tat's debut film FLOWER IN THE POCKET won the Pusan International Film Festival's New Currents Award and the KNN Audience Award.

It shares the New Currents Award with 2 other films - LIFE TRACK (Jin Guang Hao, China/Korea) and WONDERFUL TOWN (Aditya Assarat, Thailand). PIFF this year increased the number of New Currents Award from one to three.

The New Currents jury comprised Dariush Mehrjui (Head of Jury, Iran), Nan Yu (Actress, China), Cristian Mungiu (Director), Goran Paskaljevic (Director) and Lee Chang-dong (Director).

poster of Flower In The PocketNew Currents Award is the only competitive section of PIFF. PIFF this year increased the number of New Currents Award from one to three. Each of PIFF's biggest 3 sponsors will award US$30,000 to one film - total three films.

The jury noted Flower In The Pocket was "a touching and humanistic story that tells a neglected father-and-sons relationship with a good sense of humor, while using a simply and beautifully composed cinematic style."

KNN Award(Audience Award) is voted by the audiences during the festival, this award is presented by KNN Foundation to the most popular film from New Currents section. $20,000 is awarded to its director.

This is the second year in a row Da Huang Pictures's film won the New Currents Awards from Pusan. Last year, Love Conquers All took the New Currents Award and Fipresci Prize.

FLOWER IN THE POCKET will be released at GSC cinemas on the 20th of December.

(via Da Huang Pictures)

Da Huang Pictures enjoys a close relationship with Greenlight Pictures (that's the production company I'm in). I also announced last month that BLUE ROOF, a Greenlight short film I produced and edited, was having its world premiere there too.

Amidst all the nationalistic pride people have for sending the first Malaysian into space (sorry, Dr Sheikh Muszaphar), where's the lovefest for this proud achievement? It's another step forward for local films.

This is the truth: Many places around the world ARE starting to pay attention to Malaysian cinema, the so-called 'Malaysian New Wave' is not really a flash-in-a-pan thing, and the momentum is still building over the years. More and more, local indie filmmakers are opening routes for other local aspiring filmmakers to gain the international exposure they seek. Instead of us blindly sending films around to festivals (and paying a high amount of entry fee, one of the main reasons why I don't really send my stuff out unless submission is free), festival programmers ARE looking out for OUR films.

When I was at the Q & A session held after the Santiago International Film Festival's screening of 'THE ELEPHANT AND THE SEA' (directed by mentor Woo Ming Jin and produced by yours truly) in Chile, I was struck by the amount of interest Chileans had for our local film industry. There were numerous questions asked about the film, but most of them were asked in context of Malaysia's tradition, politics, culture and such. (The session actually went on for too long, until we all had to be ushered out of the cinema for the next screening) I guess being half a planet away definitely added to our mystique and exoticism!

When he called me last Saturday to tell me the news (before the awards were actually announced), Ming Jin also said:

"Interesting isn't it? The fact that the films from our tiny country is actually giving the almighty China a run for its money."

Definitely. Now we have Pusan. Perhaps it won't be long before a screening of a Malaysian film in one of the BIG FIVE film festivals (Cannes, Berlin, Venice are usually regarded as the big there, but Sundance and Toronto had recently been added on the list for most important film fests) become a regular occurrence.

I first met Seng Tat when he cameo'd in a telemovie I worked on at Port Dickson back in April. I saw him again in his office on the day he was supposed to fly off to Pusan.

Via Facebook, I went to seek counsel on what I have to do to win in Pusan, and he generously left his words of wisdom on my Wall.
"You need to sleep with everyone in order to win in Pusan."
- Liew Seng Tat, winner of PiFF's New Currents Award and KNN Audience Award

Invaluable words of wisdom. Seng Tat rocks.