"Acting is the ability to live truthfully under imaginary circumstances." -- Sanford Meisner


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Saturday, May 13, 2017

3rd AIFFA (2017)

  • Tuxedo by Rey Lee; Hair by David Theng
"Certified Dead", produced and directed by Marrie Lee, made its way for official screening at the the 3rd ASEAN International Film Festival Awards (AIFFA) in Kuching, Sarawak Malaysia, from the 4th to 6th May 2017. For more about the movie, click here.

AIFFA is a bi-annual event started in 2013, supported by the State Government of Sarawak. I heard the champion for the festival was the former Minister for Tourism, whom is now the State Chief Minister Abang Abdul Rahman Zohari Abang Openg.  For more about AIFFA and its programme, click here.

Hosting a film festival certainly does a lot to local tourism. It has brought me to this lovely city for the first time. Even though it is so near Singapore, I wonder why I hadn't thought of coming here previously.

Besides the official screening of "Certified Dead", Marrie was also invited to conduct a masterclass entitled "From Actress to Film Maker" to share her experience of making her first feature film and her kick-ass superstar days as Cleopatra Wong. She spoke of how we made a feature film with a shoe-string budget, involving over 40 actors and 40 plus locations, in 43 days over a span of 7 months (cos' we could only shoot only during weekends).  And also about her Cleopatra Wong days when she had to do her own stunts, including some that required her to smash through real glass and hang off a flying helicopter.

The Welcoming Party at the Airport
She was also in the panel of discussion celebrating the emergence of women film makers in ASEAN.

Given that we had a presentation every day, we didn't have time to watch the curated films which was screened at the Old Courthouse in Kuching, nor did we have the time for the Orang Utan and Wildlife sanctuary tour.

Now, the winners of this year's AIFFA awards...

Recipient: Solo
Country: Indonesia
The Panel of Woman Film Makers from ASEAN

Recipient: Ziarah : Tales of the Otherwords
Country: Indonesia

Recipient: Imbisibol (Invisible)
Country: Philippines

Recipient: The Way Station
Country: Vietnam

Recipient: Ziarah : Tales of the Otherwords
Country: Indonesia

Recipient: Lav Diaz
Country : Philippines

​Recipient: Ana Capri
Movie Title: Laut
Country: Philippines


Marrie conducting her masterclass "From Actress to Film Maker"
Recipient: Ricky Davao
Movie Title: Dayang Asu (Dog Nation)
Country: Philippines

Recipient: Ai-Ai Delas Alas
Movie Title: Area
Country: Philippines

Recipient: Pham Hoang Phuoc
Movie Title: The Way Station
Country: Vietnam

Recipient: Luisito Ignacio
Movie Title: Area
Country: Philippines

Recipient: The Way Station
Country: Vietnam

Recipient: Kanang anak Langkau
Country: Malaysia

He needs no introduction
- best in Singapore, JB and some say Batam. :)

Name of Recipient: Tan Sri Lakshmanan Krishnan


Name of Recipient: Donnie Yen

Film making is tough and winning a film award is even tougher. I salute the winners for their hard work, particularly two film veterans and illuminaries: Tan Sri Krishnan and Donnie Yen, who have devoted their entire life to film making.

Tan Sri Krishnan is 94 years old and has been in films since 1947 and cast the legendary multi-talented artiste, the late P Ramlee. For more about Tan Sri Krishnan, click here.

Donnie Yen is 54 years old and has been in films for 35 years. We all know of Donnie as a martial arts exponent and movie superstar, but he has also gone through a very rough patch in his career. He said during the award that one day in 1996, after the production (probably 'Legend of the Wolf'') which he was directing wrapped, he realised that he had only HK$100 left in his bank account. He couldn't even afford to pay for his own dinner and someone else had to take him out for dinner. But he persisted and it has taken him many years, perhaps nearly 30 years, to come this far. For more about Donnie, click here.

Film festivals are great opportunities to meet other passionate film makers and artistes. I got to meet Phua Chu Kang (Gurmit Singh).  I asked him if Phua Chu Kang has evolved over the last 20 years, perhaps to have become one more sophisticated and reformed, he replied, "No,... still the original. Afterwards you see!" :)

And afterwards I did see, when he performed at the Opening Night of the Festival. He did a comic skit and also sang. And sang he did and very well too, true to the great reputation of the SAF Music and Drama Company.

I have acted with Gurmit in "Taxi Taxi" and have met him at wedding receptions, but have never seen him up close in the full Phua Chu Kang gear, complete with the permed hair, mole and yellow boots, so a photo was a must! I wonder if it has always been the same wig, mole and yellow boots for the last 20 years! :)  For more about Phua Chu Kang, click here.

The festival also saw SAAVA (South East Asia Audio Visual Association) signing an MOU with AIFFA to launch AIFFA Biz World in collaboration with an investment network comprising Singapore based film investment funds such as Aurora Media Holdings, Salt Media and Entertainment, Silver Media Group and Hub Media Group. A global media investment fund of US$30 billion is up for grabs for those who can pitch and convince the financiers. For more details, click here.

Night life is rather quiet in Kuching, with a few night market stalls along the river, sourvenir shops and some restaurants. I love this city for its tranquility, thank you AIFFA for inviting me here. 

I wish I had discovered this lovely city earlier, and perhaps the rest of Sarawak.

It is so near and yet  rather out of the way to reach, as many tourists nowadays choose to go to Bangkok, Phuket, and recently, even somewhere further away like Japan.

It is not known how the city got its name, it could be that the British in the 1800s had copied the name Cochin from Kerala India. There is another theory that Kuching actually means "古井" in Chinese meaning "old well". I think it is quite unlikely that the city is named after 'cat', as the locals usually refers to cat as 'pusak', rather than 'kuching' in Bahasa Melayu. 

Anyway, this doesn't stop the tourist spin of 'cat city' and their successful attempt in breaking the Guiness Book of Records for the most number of humans dressed in cat costume. That was done during the opening night of the festival .

Kuching is a small city with a population of 325,132 people comprising the Malays, Chinese, Indians and many indigeneous races like the Dayak, Iban, Bidayuh, Cayan...etc.
The streets are clean and safe, and the people are genuinely warm and friendly. People are very relaxed here. There is no rush. Even souvenir shop sales girls will not put any pressure on you. They will just smile to welcome you into the shop. Generally, people are happy, you can see that in their faces and their vibes.

Nothing much happens in Kuching. The city is mostly livened up when there are festivals, like film festivals and music festivals. Other than that, bar nature lovers, there are not many tourists coming here as it is perceived as 'out of the way'.

A good place to retire. Cost of living is very low and life is slow. Also, after converting my Singapore Dollars to the local currency, my wallet looked very fat. :)

For more about Kuching, click here.
At the 3rd Hanoi International Film Festival,
Sep 2016

"Certified Dead" has gone to a few festivals:

  • 4th Hanoi International Film Festival 2016 (World Premiere) - Official Selection, World Panorama

  • 14th Royal Bali International Film Festival 2016 - Winner - Best International Feature Film 

  • UK Screen One International Film Festival 2017 - Official Selection, Best Narrative Feature 

  • Utah Film Awards 2017 - Official Selection, Best Feature Film 

  • Brazil International Film Festival 2017 - Official Selection, Best Feature Film 

  • 3rd Asean International Film Festival and Awards 2017 - Official Selection, Special AIFFA Screening - 

Last but not least, some entertainment from the gala night:

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