Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Afdlin Shauki & Sandakan Tears

Today theSun runs an interview Afdlin Shauki, a Malaysian film maker who will be co directing with an award winning Hollywood director Roger Christian on his next film Sandakan Tears.  Read the full story below 

Headline: Afdlin's Sweat & Tears 
By BissmeS

Putting Malaysia on the  world map is Afdlin Shauki’s next big dream. The 43-year-old producer- director-actor hopes to achieve this dream with the next film that he will be producing – Sandakan Tears. He will be co-directing this film with Hollywood director Roger Christian. The latter’s directing credits include Nostradamus (1994) starring Julia Ormond and F. Murray Abraham; Masterminds(1997) starring Patrick Stewart; and Battlefield Earth (2000) with John Travolta and Forest Whitaker.
Christian’s work as an art director and production designer was highly regarded. He won an Oscar for the set decoration for Star Wars IV: A New Hope (1977) and received a nomination for an Academy Award for his art direction of Ridley Scott’s Alien(1979). 
“Since I started my career 15 I had a dream of making a Malaysian movie that could break into the international cinemas, or even get a nomination for the Oscars,” says Afdlin, the award-winning film director. 
“I am so happy that this dream is slowly becoming a reality. For the last two years, I have not directed any film as I have to focus on Sandakan Tears.” 
Afdlin says movies from other Asian countries such as Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand are slowly gaining global recognition and winning international awards. 
He cited Anthony Chen from Singapore, who won an award at Cannes Film festival for ILO ILO last year. 
“It is time for Malaysian films to broaden their horizons and appeal to a wider audience,” he says. 
The shooting for Sandakan Tears will start early next year and if all goes well, Afdlin hopes to premiere Sandakan Tears at Cannes Film Festival in 2016. Currently, a pool of scriptwriters from Hollywood are working on the script and the first draft is almost completed. 
Afdlin says that one of the scriptwriters has had the experience of working with Martin Scorsese on the Oscar winning film Goodfellas. Sandakan Tears is based on a historical event called the Sandakan Death Marches. It occurred during World War II, when Australian and British soldiers were captured by the Japanese and shipped to war camps in Sandakan (Sabah).
The prisoners were tortured and given little food or medical care. There were a series of forced 
marches from Sandakan to Ranau that caused the death of more than 2,000 prisoners of war. 
“It was one of the darkest periods in our history which has not been explored on films. The movie tells of the evils of war. It’s so relevant because there are so many wars taking place in the world today.”
Afdlin admitted Christian had offered Oscar nominated actor Hugh Jackman a lead role in Sandakan Tears. Many sceptics, however, do not foresee the X-Men star taking up the offer. 
“Two years ago, when I first talked about Sandakan Tears and the desire to hire a Hollywood director to make this film, everyone was sceptical,” Afdlin says. 
“Now, that dream is becoming a reality. You will never know ... 
Jackman might just say yes as the movie touches on his history, too. 
“He is from Australia and the movie touches on the plight of Australian soldiers who had suffered in the war. He could well say yes due to sentimental or patriotic reasons. Nothing is  impossible.” 
Even if Jackman declines, Afdlin will not give up on enlisting another Hollywood star. 
“We need at least one or two names from Hollywood to pull in the crowd,” he says. 
Some critics are not happy with Afdlin using Hollywood talents as crowd puller for Sandakan Tears. 
“It is not that I don’t have faith in Malaysian talents,” Afdlin says. 
“The crew is Malaysian, including myself, on the set who will watch the Hollywood talents in action. We will learn from them. There will be an exchange of knowledge between Malaysian and 
Hollywood talents.” 
He pointed out that an Indonesian movie, The Raid, had gained successful international followings as a result of having used Hollywood stunts in the production. 
“They (Indonesia) were not afraid to ask for Hollywood’s help, so why should we?” he asks. 
True to his excitement in making films, Afdlin also talks about his role in the Berjaya Youth Short Film Competition. 
“I have been involved in the Berjaya Youth Short Film competition since it began four years ago,” he says. “And I have seen many good stories being told in this contest.” 
This short film contest offers a platform for youths from the ages of 18 to 25 to express their creativity by producing positive and inspiring stories through short films.
This year, the contest offers four themes – Culture, Eco, Inspiration and Youth. The contestants are expected to make a five-minute film based on one of these themes and submit their entries before Sept 24. The top three winners, including that for the People Choice award will be announced at the end of the year. 
Afdlin hints that the winner of this contest would also have a chance to be on the set of Sandakan Tears and learn about filmmaking from the Hollywood honchos. More on the Berjaya Youth Short Film contest can be obtained from Berjayayouth website.

Roger Christian- the director from Hollywood
Afdlin  spent two years on the film.

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