Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Hanyut, Interchange & Desolasi

There is three local movies that most of us are looking forward to. The movies are Hanyut, Interchange and Desolasi. All three movies will be hitting our cinemas before the year end.  
theSun had carried out interviews with all of the directors of the movies. In today entry, we will be highlighting all these interviews. We will start  this entry with director U- Wei talking about his film Hanyut ( hitting the  cinemas Nov 24)  followed Dain Said talking about his film Interchange ( hitting the cinemas  on Dec 1)and end with Syafiq Yusof talking about Desolasi. (hitting the cinemas on Dec 8) 
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Hanyut ( U- Wei) ( Published in March 15 2016) 

Headline: Bleeding For His Art  
BY Bissme S

Award winning filmmaker U-Wei Saari has put his heart, soul and sweat into his latest masterpiece, Hanyut, an adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s 1895 debut novel Almayer s Folly. 
The story centres on Dutch trader Kasper Almayer living in colonial Malaya who dreams of finding a mythical gold mountain. He faces many enemies, including his own scheming wife, Mem. Starring Peter O’Brien, Diana Danielle, Sofia Jane, Adi Putra and Khalid Salleh, Hanyut (top) will open in cinemas at the end of this year. 
During a recent preview of a rough cut of Hanyut, UWei (below) answered some questions posted to him. 

* Hanyut has a budget of RM18 million. Some would say this is too much. 

Four years from now, everyone will say: ‘U-Wei was right, you need that amount of money to make an international film’. If you want a wedding dinner that [has good food], you have to pay for it. Same goes for movies. In the past, people said that my film Kaki Bakar (the first Malaysian movie shown at the Cannes Film Festival) was not a film because it was shot with a video camera. Now, many people are using video cameras to make films. 

*In all your films, your protagonists are always flawed. Why the fascination with flawed characters? 

“Angels are boring because they have no flaws. Angels are jealous of humans because humans have flaws. We have the choice to be good or to be bad. The best thing in life is to have choices.” 

*You like to feature bad marriages in all your movies. Any reason? 

“I am unlucky in that field (laugh). I write good bad marriages. Bad marriages give you drama, and a dysfunctional family is more interesting.” 

*What motivated you to turn Conrad’s novel into a movie? 

You cannot go wrong with a good book. Conrad’s not so condescending in the way he portrays us in his novel. It’s also interesting to see a white man afraid of a Malay woman. Conrad understands the mystery of a Malay woman. Men like to believe that they are smart and they can manipulate women. But in reality, women are the smarter ones, and they manipulate men.” 

*How faithful are you to the adaptation of this novel? 

The only thing you should be faithful to is to your wife and even that is very difficult for me. I believe in creative infidelity. I am not here to film his book. I am here to interpret it. When I made Jogho, I told the author (S. Othman Kelantan) that I cannot be faithful to [his works], and that his novel is just raw material to me. “In an interview, he jokingly said: ‘U-Wei is very clever and when he writes the script, he did not even see me’. But he likes the movie. I believe a filmmaker should not be intimidated by the author behind the book he is adapting.

* What do you feel when you watch Hanyut, again? 

I feel like throwing up. I try not to watch my movies after I have edited them. 

*So, you are not proud of Hanyut? 

“I am proud of all my works. But it hurts me whenever I watch my movies again. I wish I could have directed them better. “I always doubt myself [at every] creative moment. But doubt is good. Doubt makes you think. When you have doubt, you are not full of yourself.” 

*Your movies do well at international film festivals but never locally. 

I feel disappointed. I feel like Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire. There is a famous line she said: ‘I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.’ I am the same. 
Her other favourite line is: ‘I don’t want realism. I want magic’. I want the same thing, too [for my movies].” 

*DuBois ends up in a mental hospital. Will you suffer the same fate? 

Sometimes, the Malaysian film industry can be like a mental institution – the haphazardness, the lack of infrastructure, and the regimented rules … We have campaigns like bring Malaysian movies to international cinemas and encourage filmmakers to think outside of the box. The clich├ęd taglines of these campaigns are not even fit to be written on a T-shirt.” 

*Why don’t you make more commercial movies? 

I want to hang on to my vision. I have to do the kind of movies I want to do. That is my curse. Of course, I get hurt a lot. But I survived. I can sleep easily. I do not suffer from bad dreams. Some make films because they want to tell the world they are filmmakers. That is why you see them rushing [around] making one film after another. I do not need that. I take my time to make movies. There are few things I want to say in my films. 

*What are some of them? 

Not all marriages are good. 

*Do you ever feel like quitting? 

I cannot give up because filmmaking is the only thing I know how to do. But there are times I’ve asked myself: ‘Why am I doing this? Am I a machoistic?’ Before I became a filmmaker, I only thought women bleed. Now I know I am wrong. Filmmakers bleed, too.  

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Interchange ( Dain Said) ( Published April 13, 2016) 

Headline: A Mystic Connection 
By Bissme S 

Dain Said was kind enough to show me some scenes from his latest film, Interchange, which opens in cinemas at the end of the year. I believe Interchange is going to be an exciting film.
Dain first shot to stardom in 2007 when he directed Dukun,a film loosely based on the life of the infamous Mona Fandey who committed a gruesome murder. Unfortunately, Dukun was never released here by the producers.
Putting this devastating incident behind him, in 2011, Dain went on to direct Bunohan, a thriller drama about an intense relationship among three brothers and their ailing father.
Bunohan paid off handsomely with the movie gaining screen time at several prestigious international film festivals. It also earned Dain a number of accolades, including best director and best picture, at the 25th Malaysian Film Festival.
Now, everyone is eagerly awaiting his next film, Interchange. Made with a budget of RM3.5 million, Interchange centres on forensic photographer Adam (played by Iedil Putra), who becomes psychologically traumatised after having to photograph endless pictures of the dead. Adam locks himself in his condominium and soon develops a habit of secretly taking pictures of his neighbours.
The beautiful Iva (played by award-winning Indonesianactress Prisia Nasution), who has just moved into the neighbourhood, catches him photographing her. Instead of getting angry, she befriends him and becomes his lover. Adam soon learns that loving Iva can be dangerous, and he gets dragged into a world filled with blood and gore.
There is no doubt that featuring tortured souls on the big screen is not a new thing for Dain. Is the director a tortured soul like his characters?
Laughing, Dain said: “I seemed to possess some of those characteristics when I was young. Most people would like to believe that I am an extrovert. But I can also be an introvert. When I was young, I loved reading stories featuring
characters [fraught] with  intense angst. This kind of characters was far more interesting [compared to other characters].”
Interchange also stars another award-winning Indonesian actor Nicholas Saputra. The inclusion of these two Indonesian stars has led to some people insinuating that Dain does not have faith in Malaysian talents.
The director brushes this accusations aside. “One of the best things about our industry is our amazing actors,” he said.
“They can do their scenes in just one take. I have never doubted their talent.”
He explained that the plot features a tribal community from Borneo that speaks in an Indonesian dialect and hence, using Indonesian actors makes perfect sense.
The first time he met Prisia was in 2012, at the Asian Film Festival in Macau. They became good friends instantly and had always wanted to work together.
As for Nicholas, Dain has always been a big fan of his body of work, and felt it would be a wonderful challenge to direct this talented actor, who is known to be very picky about his film roles.
Dain has played with mystic elements in all his previous films, and he does the same in Interchange.
“There has always been mystic elements in my culture. Korean filmmakers have always taken a western genre, and injected their own culture into it. I am doing the same thing here.”
The inspiration for the film’s English title came when he was in Bangkok, doing the final editing for Bunohan. He was staying at a residence right in the heart of the city, with many tall condominiums in front of him and he could clearly see what was going on within the neighbours’ homes.That sparked him to write the story for Interchange.
“This movie is about change,” Dain said. 
“Every character goes through some kind of transformation.”
Dain’s ambition to be a filmmaker started from his childhood.
“I grew up playing in the beaches of the East Coast,” said Dain who was born in Tumpat, Kelantan.
His caretakers took him to traditional theatre performances such as wayang kulit, menora and mak yong, held on the beach. At age seven, he followed his parents to live in Egypt and England but the sweet memories of those stories on the beaches of his homeland have always stayed with him.
“After 26 years abroad, I knew I wanted to come home and tell Malaysian stories,” he said

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Desolasi ( Syafiq Yusof) ( Published Nov 8, 2016) 

Headline: A Shot At Solitude 
By Bissme S

The trailer for Desolasi looks interesting and intriguing. Actor Syamsul Yusof is seen running through familiar Kuala Lumpur roads like Jalan Bukit Bintang and Petaling Street. Usually, these areas are packed with people. But in this trailer, there is not a single soul to be seen except Syamsul. Those striking images made me curious about this RM2.8 million film, which will be out in cinemas on Dec 8. Syamsul plays a street artist named Aiman, who wakes up one morning and finds out that everyone has disappeared. He is the only human being alive in the whole world. Initially frightened, Aiman soon starts to enjoy his newfound solitude. With no other humans around, everything in the world belongs to him. Soon, however, he learns that loneliness can be a painful affair. Desolasi is written and directed by Syamsul’s younger brother, 25-year-old Syafiq Yusof, who declares: “This is an Islamic movie. God is testing Aiman. 
“We are always under the impression that if you do good things, then good things will come your way. But sometimes, life does not work that way. Maybe, there is no fairness in the world. You can go [mad] thinking about [that]. Maybe the good things ... will be given to you when you are in heaven.” 
Besides Petaling Street and Jalan Bukit Bintang, other famous locations such as Dataran Merdeka and Batu Caves are featured in the film. 
Shooting the film was not without its problems. Syafiq initially managed to get permission from the authorities to close the roads for the film shoot. But, sadly, at the last minute, the deal fell through and he was forced to shoot with the crowds around. He then used computer effects to erase the images of people and activities from the street to create the empty atmosphere for his film.   
“One of my friends did tell me to beware when making a film about God testing one’s character because in return, God will be testing me when I’m making that film.” 
His friend’s warning turned out to be right. Syafiq recalls one incident where he could not shoot a scene in Cyberjaya because it was raining constantly. He and his team rushed to a different location in Bukit Melawati. Unfortunately, they could not go through because a fallen tree was blocking their way. His team managed to clear the road, but once they arrived at their destination, they realised that it was too dark for them to shoot.  They then returned to Cyberjaya to shoot some night scenes. Out of the blue, the generator blew up and they did not have any lighting. 
“That day was totally wasted,” he recalls. 
“Maybe God was really testing me.” 
Syafiq says he has shown the finished film to his father, renowned local producer and director Yusof Haslam, as well as to Syamsul, himself an award-winning director. 
“My brother likes the film because it is very different from most of the Malay movies he had seen, while my father likes the conflict between the father and son in the film.”   
“I find boys rarely have problems with their mothers. They get along well with their mothers. Most boys will have some tension with their fathers. This could be because fathers always have high expectation of their sons.” 
Other than having his brother in the lead role, other artistes appearing in Desolasi include Bella Dally, Jalaluddin Hassan and Pekin Ibrahim. 
Syafiq says his next film, out next year, will be an action thriller called KL Special Force, which centres on two police officers, Zul (played by Fattah Amin) and Roslan (Rosyam Nor), who are trying to nab a gang of thieves.  

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