Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Amanda Nell Eu & Venice International Film Festival

Malaysian Amanda Nell Eu is happy that her  short film Lagi Senang Jaga Sekandang Lembu  competing at the prestigious Venice International Film Festival. She spoke to theSun about her feelings and read the full interview below   

Headline: Making A First  
By Bissme S

Amanda Nell Eu  has  created history by  becoming the first Malaysian female   director to have her work shown  at the Venice International Film  Festival. 
Her 18-minute Bahasa Malaysia short, Lagi Senang Jaga Sekandang Lembu has  been selected for the Orizzonti  Short Films Competition at the  oldest prestigious film festival  that was founded in 1932.  Eu plans to leave for the  Italian city on Aug 30 and will  return home after the festival  ends on Sept 9. Her short will be shown on Sept 7.
“I have no idea what to expect from the festival,” says the 31-year-old Kuala Lumpur- born lass. 
“I have never been to  anything as big as this.” 
What is definite is that she  will take the opportunity to  watch a lot of films that will be  screened at the festival. 
“I believe that watching  other people’s works will help me grow as a filmmaker,” says 
Eu who is also a film lecturer and a freelance scriptwriter.  Lagi Senang Jaga Sekandang Lembu is the third short that  she has directed. The story,  which deals with friendship and mysticism, takes place in a  remote village. Outcast teenager Rahmah 
(played by Sharifah Aryana  Syed Zainal Rashid) becomes  friendly with a girl sporting  long hair (Sofia Sabri). Rahmah later discovers that the girl is a pontianak (vampire). Will Rahmah  abandon her new best friend? 
Eu describes her Rahmah  character as a shy, quiet and  reserved person while the girl  with long hair (the pontianak)  has a wild side and loves climbing trees.  When asked which character  best represents her, Eu says: “I  can be both. There are times 
when I can be quiet, and other times, I can be wild.  There is a lot of me in this short film. I have  bared my soul here.” 
Eu enjoys listening to local mystical  stories, and of  all the mystical  characters she  loves, the best is  the pontianak. 
“She is beautiful and gentle yet she  can rip you apart,”  says the director. 
“Personally, I believe there is a pontianak in  every woman.” 
Her story bears some  similarities to the famous  Swedish horror film,  Let the  Right One In (later remade  into the Hollywood movie, Let  Me In, starring Chloë Grace Moretz). Let the Right One In deals  with an awkward teenager who becomes friendly with his new neighbour. Later, the boy  discovers the girl is a vampire  and their friendship is tested.Eu is not insulted by the  comparison, saying that she  loves the Swedish version of the  film but not the Hollywood version.  She insists, however, that her short  is entirely different compared to  Let the Right One In. 
Eu says she has her own style of directing. One of the  ways she gets her actors into  character is to give them a  series of music that they should  listen to before the camera  begins rolling, as she finds  that music indirectly helps the  actors get under the skin of their characters.
She loves working with  her actors, and states that her  audition process is also unique. 
“I will show the actors my script but I will never ask them  to recite the lines,” she says. 
“Instead, I will end up asking  the actors a series of questions  about themselves and how they  would relate to the characters 
that they had read.” 
Eu admits to  having a major flaw  as a filmmaker:  she cannot decide  which scenes to  retain and which 
scenes to cut. 
“I am terrible in  editing my films,”  she says. 
“I cannot be ruthless with my work. I know I  need to master  the art of  editing.” 
Eu never  thought of making  films as  her career. Instead,  she took  up a  degree course in  graphics and  design in 
London where she had been living and studying since she  was sent to a boarding school there at age 10.  But she remembered 
stepping into a video store  in London when she was a  teenager and being fascinated by a series of black-and- white 1920s films the owner  introduced to her. 
Those films attracted her to watch more films, especially  those of the horror genre.   Her fascination with videos  and films was evident in all her assignments she did for her  graphics and design course, so much so that her lecturer told her she should be pursuing films instead. 
She took up her lecturer’s advice and graduated with a  master’s degree in filmmaking  from the London  Film School before 
returning home for good six years ago.Eu loves to explore the female psyche within the context of Southeast Asia in her short 
films. Currently, she is working on her first feature film. 
“It is a big jump from making  shorts to a feature film and I do not want to rush into it,” she says. 
“I know many people  who started their film directing  career late in their life. But age should not matter in this 
She admits the stories she  loves to tell are not commercial  types and getting finance for her projects is going to be difficult. 
But she is not ready to change her style yet. 
“I know the journey is going to be difficult but it will be worthwhile,” she adds.

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