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Showing posts from 2011

A somewhat nightmarish dream I had to end the year 2011.

It's the last day of the year. I had a troubling dream this morning, even though my sleep was brief (9am to 1:30pm, yes my sleep patterns are odd).

Kultuurikatel - The place where Andrei Tarkovsky shot STALKER

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If you have read my epic previous post about the 60 SECONDS OF SOLITUDE IN YEAR ZERO screening held on the 22nd of December, I don't blame you if you've thought that my trip in Estonia climaxed during its first day. I thought the same too as I left the Port of Tallinn on a boat, heading towards the venue of the closing ceremony. That was my last public screening of 2011, ending a very busy year when I had travelled around the film festival circuit almost every month. I would just kick back and relax, recharge my energies. I had a few more days in Tallinn, I expected to spend them in solitude since I was staying around longer than the other invited guests (I was scheduled to fly back to Tokyo on Christmas day). Explore Tallinn, soak in the festive atmosphere, I don't really celebrate Christmas, but the excitement of being half a world away would probably dampen the inevitable melancholy feeling that often plague my soul. But then, as usual, life is full of little surpr

60 Seconds of Solitude At Year Zero screening @ Port of Tallinn

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I was in Tallinn because of the omnibus film project 60 SECONDS OF SOLITUDE AT YEAR ZERO, the whole concept was 60 directors, 60 seconds each, so that everything comes together as a 1-hour omnibus film. Invited directors range from cinematic legends to exciting up-and-comers and to the utterly-obscure-but-somewhat-cute (me). The film was supposed to be screened only once, on the 22nd of December, at the Port of Tallinn, and as the film was being screened, it was being burned as well, so there is no way this can be screened again. Now, you can skip my colourful commentary and beautiful photos by watching the video now.

Quick Tour in Tallinn Old Town

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Merry Christmas. Having a 7-hour layover in Amsterdam on my way back to Tokyo, so I'll recap my past few days in Tallinn.

Off to Tallinn (Estonia) for the 60 SECONDS OF SOLITUDE IN YEAR ZEROscreening!

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I'll be flying off to Estonia in a couple of hours. (by the time you're reading this, I'm probably already on the plane). A month ago, I was invited to participate in the 60 SECONDS OF SOLITUDE IN YEAR ZERO omnibus project with a group of directors from all over the world. Most other directors involved in this are world-famous masters like Naomi Kawase, Park Chan Wook, Amir Naderi, Shinji Aoyama, Kim Ji-Woon, Tom Tywker, Pen-ek Ratanaruang, Brillante Mendoza and many others (see full list of directors ). Being able to participate in this project with filmmakers whose works have inspired me so much is quite an honour, and also rather humbling. (I'm listed as a representative for both Malaysia and Japan, the other filmmaker representing Malaysia is my regular collaborator Woo Ming Jin). Each director is supposed to make a 1-minute short film, so that when all our contributions are put together, it becomes a (hopefully awesome) one-hour omnibus film. And there

Visiting Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world (so I can be like Tom Cruise)

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I was a little disappointed that I couldn't catch MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL at the opening ceremony of Dubai Film Fest. Being filmed in Dubai, the film had caused such a sensation that all the bigwigs and important people and probably even members of the royal family had reserved their places for its world premiere (and catch a glimpse of Tom Cruise). Wanting to be like Tom, I decided to visit the Burj Khalifa. It wasn't open to public the first two times I went to Dubai (2008, 2010).

Q and A sessions for LAST FRAGMENTS OF WINTER (at Dubai International Film Fest 2011)

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My short film, LAST FRAGMENTS OF WINTER, was screened on the 11th and 13th of December, 2011 at the Dubai International Film Festival.

Films I saw at Dubai International Film Festival 2011 (Part 2)

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Came back from Dubai last night, slept through most of the entire flight. It's a fun feeling. I'm now going to continue from my previous post, Films I saw at Dubai International Film Festival 2011 (Part 1) , by listing out the rest of the films I caught in the Dubai Film Fest, along with some anecdotes if I have any.

Films I saw at Dubai International Film Festival 2011 (Part 1)

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This is my last night in Dubai. The past week had been a blur. I didn't get to camwhore that much. Just one photo at the red carpet of a red carpet event that I didn't really attend.

My new short LAST FRAGMENTS OF WINTER having world premiere at Dubai International Film Festival 2011

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So... I'm announcing the world premiere of my latest short film LAST FRAGMENTS OF WINTER less than a week before it is happening at this year's Dubai International Film Festival . My publicity skills have gone down the drains. It's hard, juggling my responsibility as a filmmaker, creator, producer and, er, self-promoter. In an ideal world, someone else would have been promoting me instead of me doing all these myself, but the world isn't ideal, and my films are probably not the type that people would jump in to promote, so... there you go. I have a very nice poster though.

4 of my short films online now thanks to Yxine Film Fest's Mini-Focus on me.

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The YxineFF is an annual online short film festival that focuses mostly on Vietnamese short films, and also some South East Asian ones. I met its founder Marcus Manh Cuong Vu at last year's Hamburg International Film Festival, when he moderated the question and answer for THE TIGER FACTORY screening (Ming Jin the director couldn't go, so I went on his behalf as the immensely cute producer). He also later did a short interview with me about Malaysian Independent Cinema and other stuff. I'm very honoured that this year's Yxine Film Festival is doing a mini-focus on me. For a temporary amount of time, four of my previous short films are uploaded online for the viewing pleasure of audiences, all of them except INHALATION are actually loose adaptations of Yasunari Kawabata's works.

Off to Taipei for the Golden Horse Film & TV Film Project Promotion (FTPP)

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It's 6:07am while I'm writing this. In a few hours, I will be hopping onto a bus to Narita Airport and catch the flight to Taipei for the Golden Horse Film & TV Film Project Promotion (FTTP), a project market similar to the Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) in March, or the Network of Asian Fantastic Films (NAFF) in July. Characteristic of me, I have yet to sleep at all. I guess I wanted a better sleep in the plane. I'm shopping a feature film project of mine called REINCARNATED DREAMS OF DEER, which I've spent the last few months in seclusion trying to write (aside from the span of time during Tokyo Film Festival, I was really just writing this screenplay since I came back to Tokyo in September). If everything comes together, this would become my debut feature-length film.

Yurakucho Winter Illumination

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Was at Yurakucho just now for dinner when I ran into a huge crowd, and saw a group of women singing on a makeshift stage. I realized that it was the opening ceremony for the Winter Illumination.

Happy birthday, Mom. She has a fan-made music video (not done by me)!

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Today (November 17th) is my Mom's birthday. That's her during Mother's Day.

Jimbocho, treasure trove for book lovers!

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When I went to Jimbocho almost two weeks ago, towards the end of the Tokyo Film Festival. A book festival was being held, so there were numerous stalls at the streets, selling books.

'LADYBIRD'S TEARS' by Kong Pahurak wins award at Sichuan TV Festival

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You probably don't remember Ladybird's Tears, an experimental short film directed and narrated by Kong Pahurak (who was one of the two cinematographers of LAST FRAGMENTS OF WINTER, my last short). I've only mentioned it once , last year in April, before it made its world premiere at the Singapore Film Fest 2010. In January 2010, while editing EXHALATION (... argh, I thought I wouldn't be talking about it again), i saw the footage of Kong's unfinished sci-fi short film starring my friend Zhu Dan (pictured above), and decided to salvage it by rewriting and editing the thing. I rearranged the narrative, Kong and I then had some major brainstorming sessions, together we wrote his voiceover narration (I wrote in English, he translated it to Thai), it became a somewhat meta-film about a filmmaker ruminating over an unfinished sci-fi short film. It felt like a jamming session that took us a few days to complete (or was it a week?). Two days ago, Kong received an ema

EXHALATION (and MAGIC AND LOSS) begins theatrical run in Cinema Rosa, Ikebukuro

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Tokyo Film Festival 2011 ended exactly a week ago, but I continued promoting EXHALATION with Kiki. Just two days after Tokyo Film Fest's closing ceremony, on the evening of November 1st, Kiki and I presented EXHALATION to a group of students at a class in Waseda University taught by WINDS OF ASIA director Kenji Ishizaka. (a year ago, I presented LOVE SUICIDES and INHALATION to the same class). It was fun!

Waseda Festival 2011

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It's Sunday. Thought it would be a nice and quiet day for me to head to the editing lab and continue editing my top secret one-minute long epic project. When I woke up, I finished watching the first episode of Torchwood that I dozed off watching the night before (nothing to do with the quality of the show, I was tired). There was a power outage at my place scheduled from 10am to 3pm, figured it was a good time to leave once the power went out.

Video: KIKI SUGINO: MUSE OF THE ASIAN INDIE CINEMA press conference

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Was at the KIKI SUGINO: MUSE OF THE ASIAN INDIE CINEMA press conference yesterday. I'm part of the session with Kiki and BREATHLESS filmmaker Yang Ik June (who acted in Lim Kah Wai's MAGIC AND LOSS and was involved in the omnibus film where Kiki made her acting debut) The entire video is here .

Introducing EXHALATION with actress/producer Kiki Sugino before its Tokyo International Film Fest screening

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My short film EXHALATION was screened on the 23rd of October, Sunday at the Tokyo International Film Festival. I was considered an 'opening act' for Lim Kah Wai's feature film MAGIC AND LOSS. This is me, trying to act like a rock star.

Jackie Chan and Japanese PM

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After walking the lengthy green carpet , we finally entered the Roppongi Hills cinema for the opening ceremony. (the green carpet event lasted for 2 hours, a blessing, actually, without the delay from the rain, it would have been 4 hours! So after walking the carpet, I still had time to head off to a quickie lunch nearby before attending the ceremony) I was surprised that Jackie Chan was here!

Walking the green carpet at Tokyo International Film Festival 2011

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Yesterday afternoon was the opening of the Tokyo International Film Festival 2011. Like last year , I got to walk the green carpet again. Awesome!

Death of an old classmate

A few days ago, I noticed a Facebook status of an ex-secondary school classmate. He wrote (in Chinese): 'Missing a good friend, Yan Chee Seong' I suddenly realized that it's exactly been ten years since a classmate of mine died in a horrendous car accident when I was in Form 5. That was my last year in secondary school. It was just a month before SPM (to non-Malaysian readers: that's the final government exams we had to take to finish secondary school). For some people, ten years can feel like yesterday, but for me, more and more, time is turning into something more languid, even ten months ago felt like years, thus ten years felt like an entire lifetime ago. Yet I remembered some details.

EXHALATION screening at Malaysian Shorts (Oct 19, Help University)

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Yep, Malaysian audiences can finally check out my short film, EXHALATION , exactly a week before its screening at the Tokyo International Film Festival . EXHALATION will be one of the ten short films screened on the Oct 17th edition of Malaysian Shorts in Help University. More info about the line-up:

Karayuki-san: The forgotten Japanese prostitution era

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Been in seclusion the past week to write my screenplay. It's not an easy one to write, so it's been taking a lot of my energies. I have kinda cut myself away from the rest of the world, spending almost every night in McDonald's. There's no point telling you all that much about it since it's still in its infancy. Sometimes, I do some heavy researches while I prepare a script (or a shoot). Do a film marathon that could help inspire me, go through books, scour through the net, do some email interviews etc. A lot of excavation is needed. Back in July, when I started developing the idea for my screenplay, I suddenly stumbled upon a piece of information that actually rocked my world.

The death of a great American bookstore

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I read this CNN article, 'The death and life of a great American bookstore' two weeks ago (it's a eulogy for Borders). These few paragraphs summed up best how I feel about a bookstore.

New trailer for EXHALATION

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I think its upcoming screening at the Tokyo International Film Festival will signal the gradual end of EXHALATION's run in the festival circuit. The short film has had a good run ever since its world premiere in Dubai last December, much better than I could have imagined. The film was shot in late 2009, (check out the production photos from Day 1 , Day 2 and Day 3 of the shoot) and went through a non-stop 40-hour marathon editing session . It's almost two years ago, but it felt much longer than that. Many of the people from the team had since went on with their lives, going to different places. That's the thing about film shoots, they always feel like a distant dream, fading away as I watch its end results. For the cast and crew who had helped me so much, the film would never been to all these places without them. So I decided to cut together a new trailer for the film yesterday, perhaps as a way to signify some sort of closing of a chapter.

My short film, EXHALATION, screening at Tokyo International Film Festival

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On the day that Tokyo was hit by a massive typhoon, the Tokyo International Film Festival (Oct 22-30) announced its full line-up . My short, EXHALATION, will be screened at the festival as part of the SUGINO KIKI: MUSE OF THE ASIAN INDIE CINEMA program.

Babes of Tokyo Game Show 2011

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The more I tried to run, the more I got sucked back in again, into the dark underbelly of the human psyche. Yes, dear readers, once again I returned to the annual labyrinth of depravity known as the Tokyo Game Show 2011. From BABES OF TOKYO GAME SHOW 2008 and BABES OF TOKYO GAME SHOW 2010 , you know the agony I felt whenever I was forced to interact with the beautiful booth babes of Tokyo Game Show.

AFTERNOON RIVER, EVENING SKY screening at Malaysian Shorts (Sept 19, Help University)

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My short film, AFTERNOON RIVER, EVENING SKY, will be one of the 8 shorts films screening at the next edition of Malaysian Shorts in Help University on the 19th of September (Monday), 8 - 10pm.

Celebrating Mid-autumn Festival 2011 at Tsukuba Science City

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The last time I wrote about the Mid-autumn Festival (or Mooncake Festival) was in 2006 . It's pretty unbelievable that half a decade had gone by. I was in Perth then. On that day, I was shooting my final student film, GIRL DISCONNECTED. So confident with my talents back then, that I thought I was shooting THE definitive Mid-autumn Festival short film. It was a fantastical tale of a girl who took a train to the moon to seek her love (whom she met on the internet), accompanied by a friend who secretly loved her. Mooncakes appeared in the film. So did Chang-er, and other mythological beings of the moon.

"I want sensuality and sheer sexiness!"

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Hopefully you've seen Kenny's photos of my latest film shoot that I posted last night. If not, go see it now! Now, my own photos of the shoot... (not that many, of course, when you're directing, you only whip out your iPhone occasionally to capture magic)

Photos from my latest film shoot

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Returned to Tokyo last night. Prior to that, I was, as usual, in a two-day film shoot on the 4th and 5th of September. (yes, I'm always shooting something in Malaysia just before I return to Tokyo, this sense of urgency adds more to my desperation, and desperation leads to more creativity). Assistant cinematographer Kenny Chua had posted a number of great stills of our epic production . These are our three main actresses.

Was in Hong Kong for the InDpanda International Short Film Festival 2011

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I was in Hong Kong from the 24th to the 28th of August for the InDpanda International Short Film Festival , where my short films, INHALATION and EXHALATION, were part of the opening and closing programs . Here's me with the festival founders Henry Chan and Jonathan Hung.

My short film AFTERNOON RIVER, EVENING SKY screening at Thai Short Film & Video Festival 2011

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My rarely-seen short film AFTERNOON RIVER, EVENING SKY will be screening at the Thai Short Film and Video Festival in Bangkok next week, on the 23rd and 27th of August.

VCinema interviews Kiki Sugino. She thinks I should be an actor. (for my looks, I guess)

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VCinema had just posted up Marc Saint-Cyr's interview with Kiki Sugino (actress and producer of my short film Exhalation ) regarding both our collaboration and also HOSPITALITE by Koji Fukada, which she also produced and acted.

Editing GIRL IN WATER, the Danish-Malaysian short film co-production

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Back in June, I was involved in a Danish-Malaysian short film co-production tentatively titled GIRL IN THE WATER. (read about the film shoot here and here )

83-year-old Yut Kee Coffee Shop

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One of the icons of Kuala Lumpur that I probably never heard of until yesterday (yes, I'm embarrassed). I have returned briefly from Japan, my high school friends, Woan Foong (she's the composer of my short films, notably Inhalation and Exhalation, based in the States for the past few years), and Yuan Yue (based in Singapore since 3 months ago), were also back in Malaysia for a short while, so we went to the Yut Kee Coffee Shop for lunch. The conversation prior to lunch was like this:

Moments in RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES that lingered

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Yes, I'm still slightly shocked, RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is actually pretty good. Possibly one of the best of the year.

WU XIA is a remake of some film by some Canadian director...

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A day before I saw Peter Chan's Wu Xia last Sunday, I was having dinner with a bunch of other filmmakers. AT THE END OF DAYBREAK director Ho Yuhang, who had seen the film, said this: "Wu Xia is sort of like a remake of a famous film by a Canadian director, but I won't tell you which one since it'll spoil you."

NOW - Short film I did for Prada

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Almost a year ago, I mentioned about shooting a 1-minute epic here and here , and ended this: We finished the shoot almost by midnight. By having such a long and ardous shoot with a child actress, it's most possible I'll be accused of child labour. In fact, because it's supposed to be an epic compressed into a single minute, it was one of the toughest and most challenging shoots I've ever endured. Yet I soldiered on, and the end product is most probably awesome. If it's really awesome, you'll be seeing it soon. If not, well, I'll probably just pretend that this shoot never happened.

My short films INHALATION and EXHALATION are opening and closing films of InDPanda Short Film Festival

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The InDPanda International Short Film Festival in Hong Kong is happening from the 5th to the 25th of August. My short film, INHALATION (last screened at the Guanajuato International Film Festival in Mexico few days ago. You may remember that I wrote a message about the Bersih 2.0 rally to the audiences ) will be part of its opening program on the 5th of August.

Attending a high school play triggers a flood of memories (... again)

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As I mentioned in my previous post , I went to Chung Hwa International High School on Friday evening to attend a high school play starring TIGER FACTORY lead actress Moon Lai's younger brother, Jack. You don't get invited to high school plays everyday.

An empty high school canteen, a basketball court, and the passing of time.

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It's not everyday that you get invited to attend a high school play, so when Moon Lai (THE TIGER FACTORY's lead actress) told me about her younger brother's musical play, I was intrigued to go. (I will write about the play in my next post.)

"... So, I finally bought edmundyeo.com"

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It took me a while, but I bought the edmundyeo.com domain three days ago. The blog has finally completed its transition to this new domain few moments earlier, so I thought it's time to make this official announcement.

My favourite moment in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

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I saw this a few days ago. I'll write about the series in its entirety when I'm free enough. After all, the Harry Potter film series was something I viewed with cynicism at first, before becoming something I gradually loved. (I stopped reading the books after Book 5) Perhaps because it's finally ended, its inevitable absence makes the heart grows fonder. Anyway, I thought that Snape's flashback was the highlight of the film. Alan Rickman's sublime performance, for his unforgettable character, it was a great way to send him off. And the following exchange was my favourite moment in my favourite scene of the entire film. Dumbledore: Lily... after all this time? Snape: Always. Somehow the exchange lingered in my mind. Perhaps it was the context, or the performance, the haunting music, the way Rickman enunciated his lines as Snape, perhaps it was the previous shot of Snape holding a dead Lily Potter in his arms crying, perhaps it was a little bit of everyth

My message about the July 9th BERSIH rally to the Guanajuato International Film Festival

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My short film INHALATION is now playing at the Guanajuato International Film Festival in Mexico. (film page here .) Due to the fact that I was unable to make my trip to Mexico, the festival staff members asked whether I would like them to help me pass a message to the audience after the screening of my film. So I wrote them the following:

Last thoughts on Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival 2011

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I've already returned to Tokyo yesterday afternoon. Ultimately, Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (PIFAN) 2011 had been a fun festival for me, to be able to hang out with old friends, and then meeting up with new ones. Great food, interesting films and the like.

Video: Seru (Resurrection) Q & A session with Woo Ming Jin at Puchon International Fantastic Film Fest

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Aside for the NETWORK OF ASIAN FANTASTIC FILMS project market that Ming Jin and I was attending. Ming Jin was also at Puchon International Film Fest for the screening of the film SERU (known as RESURRECTION outside Malaysia), which was making its second festival screening after Udine Far East Film Festival back in April.

Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival 2011 Day 1

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Yesterday, I took a morning flight to Seoul to attend the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival. Ming Jin's new project THE FORGIVEN has been selected for this edition's NAFF (Network of Asian Fantastic Films). NAFF is a project market, like Hong Kong's HAF, which selects projects in development by filmmakers and allow them to pitch to possible co-producers and financiers in one-on-one meetings. I'm attached to the project as producer. As usual, I didn't sleep the night before because it's a morning flight and I had to take a 5am train to the Tokyo City Air Terminal to catch a bus to Narita Airport. The journey to Narita, as usual, is always more soul-sapping than the flight. The flight, however, was wondrous since I got bumped up to business class.

Japanese director Masahiro Kobayashi's live gig at Manda-la 2

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Yesterday evening, I headed to Manda=la 2 at Kichijoji to catch Japanese director Masahiro Kobayashi's live gig.

Revisiting "The Downtown Star Festival" (Shitamachi Tanabata Matsuri) at Kappabashi-Hondori

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Back on Thursday, I visited the Kappabashi-Hondori with a friend to check out the Downtown Star Festival (Shitamachi Tanabata Matsuri) . We were both struck by how quiet it was, and wondered why people were actually still preparing the decorations in the evening.

Goodbye, Yao Ming

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Aside from the Bersih Rally , another big news I got this morning that sort of sadden me a little was NBA Superstar Yao Ming's retirement. He's 30, went through some bad injuries 3 years ago, I kinda knew it was the end then.

BERSIH Rally

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Most of my blog readers are not from Malaysia. Many are from Japan, or perhaps people interested in Japan. Unsurprising, considering that I'm in Tokyo. Therefore, I find a need to create awareness of the Bersih ("clean" in Malay) Rally happening right now, yes, RIGHT NOW, in Malaysia. And mass arrests are happening. Our ever-diligent police had set up road blocks, deployed trucks mounted with water cannons, seal off parts of the capital Kuala Lumpur, in an attempt to prevent this banned rally. (While I am writing this, a couple of people I know have tweeted that they've gotten tear gases in their eye) You can read more about it here . Quote a few paragraphs from the article to give you some context.

Breathing in a library

So, aside from writing in McDonald's at night, I have also been going to the library in Waseda University during daytimes to write. After all, what better place than a library where you won't be distracted by noises, or say, the Internet (main reason why I don't write in my room), right? Have this ever happened to you? That in order to try your best to be silent, you become hypersensitive and paranoid to the sounds around you? This happened to me just now. For a while, I stopped from writing when I was mildly distracted by the sound of breathing. Was it the sound of my own breathing? I seemed to be wheezing, it sounded a little distracting. Then I held my breath, and realized that the sound of breathing remained. So it really wasn't the sound of my own breathing after all, but the guy sitting opposite my desk. A wooden plank separates us, but I could totally hear him breathing. Perhaps he was nursing a cold, or maybe he was a heavy breather. Here I am, in the librar

"The Downtown Star Festival" (Shitamachi Tanabata Matsuri) at Kappabashi-Hondori.

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Today is the 7th of July, which is the beginning of the Tanabata (七夕, meaning "Evening of the seventh"), the Japanese star festival that originates from the Chinese Qixi Festival. You might have heard of it, the meeting between Orihime and Hikoboshi, the Weaving Princess and the Cowherder. The Milky Way separates these lovers, so they are only permitted to meet once a year, on the 7th of July. You can read more of it here . Therefore, celebrations are supposed to begin today until the weekends. I caught wind that a Tanabata Festival is usually held at the Kappabashi Street (official website here ), which extends 1.2 km, from Ueno Station to the Tsukuba Express Station in Asakusa, the famed Shitamachi Tanabata Matsuri. So I headed there with a friend for a walk.

The world is a cruel place for artists! LOL!

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Okay, I've disappeared off the past week to do some writing. I managed to finish a film treatment, which I'm absolutely excited about. Am now working on the screenplay, not an easy task, but am trying my best. Creativity is a precious little thing to hold on to.

Nationalistic Pride?

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I returned to Tokyo 3 nights ago and resumed my usual quiet, solitary lifestyle, kinda like Colonel Aureliano Buendía during the twilight of his years.

The Korean movie LATE BLOSSOM left me a blubbering wreck

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Me: I'm glad I wear sunglasses in the plane. I was watching this Korean film, LATE BLOSSOM (그대를 사랑합니다), during the flight and it made me cry like a little girl. Jeez.

Asian New Talent 2011 Award Ceremony

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Yup, got back from Shanghai last night. The Asian New Talent Award Competition was established in 2004 by the Shanghai International Film Festival for Asian filmmakers making their first or second film, kinda like Pusan's NEW CURRENTS competition, or Rotterdam's Tiger Awards. The award ceremony was held on the 17th of June. (here are the results )

Mobile SIFF Award Ceremony. Bye, Shanghai!

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UPDATED (20th June, 2011): Added more of my thoughts about the film fest.

WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER in Shanghai

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Back on Sunday, 12th of June, which was my second day in Shanghai. I went to the WOMAN ON FIRE LOOKS FOR WATER screening. I was accompanied by an old friend of mine, Joey, who used to study in Tokyo and whom I met in Japanese Language classes 3 years ago. She graduated this year in March and had since returned to her hometown in Shanghai.

Conversations between Iwai Shunji and Tan Chui Mui

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An early phone call from Malaysian filmmaker Tan Chui Mui woke me up this morning. It was 7 in the morning, her assistant passed me stuff before I came to Shanghai so I could pass it to her. So I met her 20 minutes later for breakfast. She told me she was going to have an interview of sorts for Japanese filmmaker Iwai Shunji's official website . Like many of my Japanese film lovers of my generation, I was captivated by his works like LOVE LETTER (still a personal all-time favourite) and ALL ABOUT LILY CHOU-CHOU during my youth. I fell in love with LOVE LETTER when I was 13, that was 14 years ago, and my love never wavered. It was through his influences that I make my films that some have considered visually poetic and sensitive. Thus I followed Mui along for their meeting.

Feng Xiaogang - John Woo Masterclass

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12th of June. Second day in Shanghai. I attended half of the John Woo - Feng Xiaogang Masterclass where both filmmaking heavyweights dissect and analyze the 8 projects of the CFPC (China Film Pitch and Catch) of the Shanghai Market. What I remember most was something John Woo said. He commented how most young filmmakers and arthouse ones are very into casting amateurs and non-professionals in their films to preserve some authenticity and purity of their story, since some things are really hard to be replicated. It also helps to minimize budget. However, he asked these filmmakers to consider the possibility of casting name cast members for their projects if opportunity arises. After all, why not try to allow your own works to reach a wider audience? Why not aim higher? Aim bigger? Great actors all around the world are waiting for a good script anyway... Location: Zunyi Rd,Shanghai,China

My first day at the Shanghai International Film Festival 2011

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So, here I am. Having spent two nights in Shanghai. I'm deprived of Facebook and Twitter and also Blogger. I'm now using the BlogPress app on iPhone to post, not sure whether it will work properly amidst the Great Firewall. 11th of June. I arrived at Shanghai just in time for the opening ceremony of the film festival. It was raining heavily and people walked through the red carpet holding umbrellas. The ceremony was held in this nice hall.

Heading off to the Shanghai International Film Festival 2011

I'm now at the Starbucks in KL International Airport, waiting for another half an hour to board the flight to Shanghai.

Film shoot of a Danish-Malaysian co-production 2

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After going through the first three days of the shoot from the 3rd to the 5th of June (chronicled yesterday ). We all knew that the worst was over. It was an exhausting shoot, insanely high temperature, merciless mosquitoes, seasickness, unpredictable conditions and the like. Filmmaking, some should remember, is a high-stress job that involves a lot of dealing with people, especially if you are shooting under circumstances where you need the cooperation from the locals at the locations of your shoot. 6th of June came. This was scheduled to be the last day of the shoot. Fern the lead actress drew a caricature of me. It's not everyday you have the lead actress of a film you're doing drawing a caricature of yourself.

Film shoot of a Danish-Malaysian co-production

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I was at Cherating in the past week for the film shoot of the tentatively-titled GIRL X (or GIRL IN THE WATER), a Danish-Malaysian co-production co-directed by my regular collaborator, Malaysian filmmaker Woo Ming Jin, and the Danish filmmaker Jeppe Ronde. (you might remember from here and here that I was doing some location scouting two weeks ago) We even imported the Thai actress Sajee "FERN" Apiwong (last seen in Aditya Assarat's HI-SO) to do the main role. It was a short film, but it was a short film with sky-high ambition. After all, I wouldn't involve myself in anything less than awesome anyway. Tuesday. 1st of June. Jeppe arrived in Malaysia at night. Wednesday. 2nd of June. Ming Jin, Jeppe and I picked up Fern and her friend So from the airport before heading straight to Cherating. After a looooong 4-hour car ride, we reached the location, and immediately we headed off to check out the spots.

My late uncle's record collection

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My father's youngest brother, my uncle whom I called 'Zeg Zeg', passed away last September . Last Sunday, my father went to his house to go through his large record collection. My iPhone, alas, was unable to capture the collection in its entirety. My uncle, just like my dad, was a music lover and connoisseur. When my father and he were both young, they used to collect music albums together, sharing them. From their childhood to their teens to becoming adults. And then decades went by, Zeg Zeg continued collecting, but he never regarded each album to be his alone. They belonged as much to him as they were to dad. Now that he is gone, his wife believed that my dad is the one and only person who should inherit the collection. So my dad was there, looking through my late uncle's record collection that belonged not only to my uncle but also to my dad. Just to remember.

Letting Go

He and She had a wistful conversation. They came to a conclusion. "Pain is inevitable in life. Ups and downs. All of it." She said. "Uh huh, that's why life is an adventure." He said. "Yup, just enjoy it." She said. "I do. I never let the pain cripple me, I merely embrace it, letting it linger, just so I can create." He said. "I agree. But don't you feel like letting it go though? Perhaps it's easier said than done." She said. "I've already let go of the person, long ago. Just not memories of her." He said. "Yeah, well said." She said. "Of course!" He said. "Sometimes, I still remember a lot of things I've spent time doing with my ex-boyfriend. Like jogging, a mundane. Then I ask myself why I still think of him. But some things can't be helped, rather that than to repress them." She said. "It's not him you were thinking, but just memories of wh

Remember Dial-Up Internet?

I first started using the Internet back in 1997. I was 13. It was a miraculous experience, to be able to exchange emails with people, chat to people from all around the world in chatrooms, visiting websites of things that I am interested in. Those early pleasures of the Internet, like ICQ, Geocities websites, IRC chatrooms... they were so fresh to me back then. I miss this sound .

The EPIC location scouting day 2

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The second day of the location scouting began with sheer epic magnificence. We went through an area to seek some photogenic wilderness.

The EPIC location scouting day 1

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The day began with an epic breakfast at Ming Jin's house.

"Can I make a living as filmmaker?"

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I get these questions a lot from aspiring filmmakers of my own country. "Can I make a living as a filmmaker?" "How do YOU make a living as a filmmaker?" "How much do you earn a month?"

Another new film project beckons

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After finishing my latest short film late last month in the sound studios of Honjo (Japan), and a brief stint at the Jeonju International Film Fest, I had returned to Malaysia and went through a relatively idyllic lifestyle.

My trophies join my toys

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Over the past few years while I dabbled in the dark, disgraceful arts of filmmaking, I was fortunate enough to pick up a number of awards along the way.

The imposing trip from Jeonju to Tokyo to Kuala Lumpur

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The whole thing went like this:

Jeonju International Film Festival 2011 recap part 3

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May 4th began with the second screening of EXHALATION and its Q and A session. (tickets, to my surprise and joy, were sold out two days earlier)

Jeonju International Film Festival 2011 recap part 2

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May 2. I began the day by catching Kim Sun's SELF-REFERENTIAL TRAVERSE: ZEITGEIST AND ENGAGEMENT. 80 minutes later, I stumbled out of the theaters, a little dazed and confused. (check out this short review on Aphanisis ) Here is its trailer .

Jeonju International Film Festival 2011 recap

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After arriving at Incheon Airport on the awesome business class seat . I took the bus from Seoul to Jeonju. The epic bus ride lasted for more than 4 hours.

Whoa, business class

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I'm now in Jeonju for the Jeonju International Film Festival. As you may notice by now, I fly almost every month to a film fest. This jet-setting lifestyle is exciting, but hardly as glamourous as what most people envisioned, for example, I only travel on economy class, no, no private jet either. So imagine my surprise yesterday when I was actually given the business class for the flight to Seoul. Commoners like me have never actually experienced such luxury in the air. Very nice.

Heading off to the Jeonju Film Festival

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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

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

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?

Finishing the postproduction of LAST FRAGMENTS OF WINTER

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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.

Sound work for LAST FRAGMENTS OF WINTER

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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)

I'm really going through 100 Years of Solitude

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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.

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

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UPDATED: This is my short film Kingyo, in its entirety 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.

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

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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).

At least there're still some cherry blossoms around

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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:

A feast before returning to Tokyo

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

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

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I was interviewed by NTV7.

Yumcha

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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. 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

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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 .

Buddhist ceremony for Qingming Festival

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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.

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

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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.

Tokyo sure felt pretty... normal.

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I'm now leaving for Narita Airport in an empty shuttle. Returning to Malaysia again after a whirlwind 4 days in Tokyo. I genuinely expected the worst when I flew here, imagining every single scenario I've seen in post-apocalyptic films and novels, wondering in fear how the city of Tokyo would shrivel or crumble under the aftermath of the quake, or the looming shadow of the nuclear reactor situation in Fukushima. I expected people to hide at homes, or walked around in rubber suits and oxygen masks.

Receiving the Ono Azusa Memorial Award in Waseda University

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So, you may know already that I arrived in Tokyo yesterday morning after taking the midnight flight . At first there was some suspense to know the fate of my room after the massive quake, to my relief, only my anime girl figurines suffered . After that, I immediately changed and headed off to the Ono Azusa Memorial Award ceremony in Waseda University. Here's an info from the Waseda website what this award is about.

The earthquake didn't make my messy room messier

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When I reached my room and was about to open it, I feared the worst. So when I finally saw that my messy room was only slightly messier than when I left it 18 days ago, I felt relieved, and even incredulous. I expected to see my glass figurines, or plates, or books, or CDs on the floor, but nothing. Even my two bottles of half empty mineral water and green tea left on the floor were still standing upright. The only casualties were, er, four of my anime figurines that I placed on my book shelf for decoration. One of them fell onto the floor, that was it. Anyway, I have an award ceremony to attend later. Location: 2丁目,Bunkyo,Japan

Finding the truth in Tokyo

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I'm now in Tokyo. In a bus from Narita Airport to my place. Having been in Malaysia since March 7, I have yet to return after the massive quake. I dread to see what my room has become. The worst case scenario I conjured in my mind is to see my TV flying off from where it was and crashing into the numerous external hard disks I placed on the floor, thus destroying many years' worth of invaluable data. I'm sure my books and CDs have fallen off their racks over my bed, and that some of my tiny glass figurines are probably gone. My room had always been messy, will it be even messier? Another one hour left in my bus journey, gonna know soon.

The window seat

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As a child, whenever I was flying, I would, of course, always pick the window seat. My dad was then working in both Malaysia and Singapore, so he had to fly off every other week, and sometimes my mom and I would follow. I loved those moments when we were taking off, or before we were landing, where I would see everything spread out like miniatures beneath me. Cars, buildings, the land, becoming smaller as I fly, or seeing them reemerging into view as I was to reach my destination. However, in recent years after I became a filmmaker, as I became flying with regularity, the aisle seat became my first choice. I've been taking 10+ hour flights almost every month nowadays. It's more practical to sit on a spot where it's easier for me to head to the toilet. That's what growing up is like, the simple little pleasures in life replaced by practicality, hence they end up being forgotten, neglected, scoffed at as childish whims. As I am writing this, I'm on a midnight flig

Shooting the rest of my short 'LAST FRAGMENTS OF WINTER'

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So, in the 11 days since I last updated the blog, I've gone through the grueling shoot for the rest of my short film LAST FRAGMENTS OF WINTER (March 15-18), and then rushed off to the Hong Kong International Film Festival on March 20 for the HAF (HK - Asia Film Financing Forum), and came back last night (March 24). This blog post is about the grueling shoot.

Thoughts on the Sendai earthquake and tsunami in Japan

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Since the devastating Sendai earthquake and tsunami in Japan last Friday, I've been receiving numerous text messages, emails, phone calls, Facebook posts etc. from friends, family, online acquaintances worried about my well-being. (most people didn't know that I returned to Malaysia a few days earlier) I'm very grateful for their concern, and I thank them from my heart. However, my being safe in Malaysia should not diminish the fact that a great tragedy has occurred in Japan, which had more or less became another home of mine in the past three years. I don't feel relieved, nor lucky, that I'm not in Japan when it all happened, since many of my friends and loved ones are still there. I also can't explain why a part of me felt a little uncomfortable, guilty even, that I'm here. I'm returning to Tokyo in ten days. The Malaysian part of the shoot for my new short, LAST FRAGMENTS OF WINTER will begin tomorrow. Perhaps the most I can do now is just con

6th of March 2011. An uneventful birthday suddenly turned suspenseful.

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I'm back in Malaysia since yesterday morning. Had a nice belated birthday celebration dinner with parents + sister + 'Ah Gou' (aunt in Teochew, dad's elder sister) and Kai Fai and cute fat Wai Kong (unofficially my mom's two godsons).

My film shoot at Shirakawa-go