Pre­sent­ing the best

> Astro high­lights top re­gional di­rec­tors in a new sea­son of SEA Di­rec­tor Fo­cus, fea­tur­ing in­ter­views and a se­lec­tion of movies

The Sun (Malaysia) - - FEATURE -

SINCE Fe­bru­ary this year, film­mak­ers from around the re­gion have been high­lighted on Astro’s spe­cial in-depth in­ter­view pro­gramme SEA Di­rec­tor Fo­cus, which airs on A-List (Astro chan­nel 456).

Hosted by renowned film his­to­rian and critic, Has­san Muthalib, the pro­gramme kicked off by fea­tur­ing nine award­win­ning di­rec­tors from Malaysia, and in its sec­ond in­stal­ment, nine other di­rec­tors from across Southeast Asia.

In the third in­stal­ment, be­gin­ning next month, the show will fea­ture six pro­lific di­rec­tors who have been mak­ing a name for them­selves both in their home coun­tries and on the in­ter­na­tional film festival cir­cuit.

They are Boo Jun­feng (Sin­ga­pore), Eric Khoo (Sin­ga­pore), Garin Nu­groho (In­done­sia), Lav Diaz (Philippines), Pen-Ek Rata­naru­ang (Thai­land), and Riri Riza (In­done­sia).

At an event an­nounc­ing the up­com­ing line-up of di­rec­tors, Teng Lee Yein, vice pres­i­dent for Astro’s ac­qui­si­tion & dis­tri­bu­tion, con­tent group said: “Astro A-List is com­mit­ted to el­e­vat­ing emerging tal­ents in Asia and we be­lieve that in­ter­na­tional cin­e­matic tal­ents from Asian shores should be given the op­por­tu­nity to shine for their in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised ac­com­plish­ments.

“The six di­rec­tors tak­ing part in the third in­stal­ment of SEA Di­rec­tor Fo­cus rep­re­sent an eclec­tic mix of tal­ents from across Southeast Asia who will pro­vide an in­valu­able learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to our au­di­ence.”

The se­ries will also fea­ture a se­lec­tion of films by these di­rec­tors: Sand­cas­tle by Boo; 12 Storeys by Khoo; The Blind­fold by Garin; A Lul­laby to the Sor­row­ful Mys­tery by Diaz; Mon­rak Tran­sis­tor by Pen-Ek; and Ada Apa Den­gan Cinta 2 by Riri.

Datuk Kamil Oth­man, di­rec­tor-gen­eral of the Na­tional Film De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion Malaysia (Fi­nas) ob­served that the di­rec­tors fea­tured in this se­ries con­cen­trated more on lo­cal stories, lo­cal sen­ti­ments and lo­cal feel­ings, and trans­late that into some­thing that the rest of the world can con­nected with.

He said: “More Malaysians should watch these films. When [young lo­cal di­rec­tors] ap­ply for Fi­nas grants for movies, it should be for real stories, and not some half-baked ideas in­spired by The Revenant or Trans­form­ers.”

One of the big­gest com­plaints by lo­cal film­mak­ers is that their films are sub­ject to strict rul­ings and guide­lines. How­ever, Kamil pointed out that clas­sic Euro­pean art­house films were cre­ated dur­ing a time when they, too, faced a lot of restrictions.

“Cre­ative film­mak­ers will find a way to say what they want,” he said. “The ex­cuse that lo­cal film­mak­ers gave doesn’t hold. Imag­i­na­tion is lim­it­less.”

Sin­ga­porean di­rec­tor Boo, who made waves re­cently af­ter his film Ap­pren­tice was screened at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, said that things are get­ting ex­cit­ing in his coun­try’s film in­dus­try.

“There are many young film­mak­ers hon­ing their craft by mak­ing short films, and they are cur­rently shoot­ing or de­vel­op­ing their fea­ture films,” Boo said. “I think for a long time, a lot of projects went into pro­duc­tion pre­ma­turely. Now with more recog­ni­tion to­wards the de­vel­op­ment phase of [film­mak­ing], hope­fully the qual­ity will be bet­ter.”

Thai di­rec­tor Pen-Ek, con­curred: “Ten to 15 years ago in Thai­land, it was ei­ther pro­duc­ing big com­mer­cial films for en­ter­tain­ment, or it was just [about] mak­ing more per­sonal films. I think with the tech­nol­ogy now, you have more film­mak­ers who can switch be­tween the two. I think the in­dus­try has be­come stronger due to this.”

Speak­ing about the chal­lenges faced by Filipino film­mak­ers, Diaz said: “I work in small set­ups and on small projects. The chal­lenge is al­ways on how to fin­ish the projects, and for me, to cre­ate good movies.”

Garin said that times are in­ter­est­ing in the In­done­sian film in­dus­try as other than com­mer­cial cin­ema, more and more film­mak­ers have been mak­ing “per­sonal” (art house) films over the past few years.

Riri added that films are a source of na­tional pride in In­done­sia. “In the last five years, we had trou­ble find­ing a large au­di­ence for even the big films. At the same time, the num­ber of pro­duc­tions have not de­creased.”

(from left) Has­san, Kamil, Teng, Khoo, Boo, Riri, Diaz, Garin, and Pen-Ek at the launch of the third in­stal­ment of SEA Di­rec­tor Fo­cus, which in­cludes screen­ing of films like (top, from left) Mon­rak Tran­sis­tor; The Blind­fold; 12 Storeys.

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