Tuesday, May 11, 2010

PINOY SUNDAY is a movie that deserves an Oscar for Best Foreign Film -- it's that good and that universal!

''PINOY SUNDAY''........... is an uproarious yet tender indie comedy by a Chinese-Malaysian director about the trials and tribulations of a pair of happy-go-lucky Filipino foreign laborers working in a factory in a newly wealthy Taiwan.

Yes, they'll release a DVD after about 6 months. We're being careful before the Philippine release, and once that's over, you can be sure we'll release it on DVD soon afterwards.

These two dudes represent the Third World workers who make the iPads, iPods and iPhones in spotless factories in Taiwan that fuel the consumer-hungry Western world.

And yet this movie, a truly wonderful film, will likely NOT be shown in the West or anywhere outside a few art theaters and film festivals UNLESS the Internet and blogosphere propel this movie to the place where it belongs: winner of the Oscar award for Best Foreign Film. Think CINEMA PARADISO, think LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL. It's that good!

I am a fan. See the trailer here [LINK]and you will understand why. This is not a film for just a few people to see. This film belongs in every movie theater on the planet. Danny Boyle and Shekhar Kapur need to see it. Ang Lee, too. Robert Redford and Steve Spielberg, too. And you. Yes, YOU dear reader. Go see this film.

The film is both comedy and tragedy, with a storytelling touch that is as sublime as much as it is divine.

And the star of the movie, the inanimate yet colorful star of this wonderful cinemagical masterpiece -- as part of the entire 90 minute romp in la condition humaine -- is a red sofa.

Yes, you read that correctly. A bright red leather sofa that's been thrown away by a wealthy Taiwanese family -- discarded and left on a dirty city sidewalk in metropolitan Taipei -- is one of the stars of this movie. It's a symbol of many things in the film: the haves and the have-nots, the rich and the poor, the factory bosses and the factory workers, the Taiwanese rich and the dark-skinned foreign worker migrants from the Philippines, dreams and reality, justice and injustice, love and betrayal -- all wrapped up in one bright red sofa!

It's red. It's a couch. It's been thrown away as garbage. To the two Filipino factory workers from overseas, working in Taiwan to make money for their families back home in Manila, the red sofa is a dreamed-of ticket to comfort.

So they spend the entire film trying to get the oversized, cranky, creaky, ungainly, and yes, heavy red sofa back to their worker's dormitory on the outskirts of town. In factoryville.

Red, red, red. The sofa is red. You gotta see this movie. You will never quite look at a sofa the same way again, especially a red sofa like this one!

The various attempts to push, pull, carry and even float the sofa to their spartan dormitory room is at the heart of this laugh-out-loud tragi-comedy that would make even Shakespeare proud, yes, the comedic Shakespeare, and not only Shakespeare....

James Schamus and Ang Lee need to see this film. Brilliant Mendoza must see this movie. Richard Corliss at TIME magazine needs to hear about this movie. Danny Boyle and Alex Garland and Shekhar Kapur in India need to see this film. It's that good!

And that universal!

PINOY SUNDAY is not just a movie about Taiwan. It's a universal story about love, life, dreams ..........and reality!

Dragonbones said:

Saw it tonight -- recommended! We enjoyed it very much. Great job, Gus (and all involved)!

Some have expressed that they're not interested in a film about Filipino workers in Taiwan, but that's not really what it is. I'd rather characterize it as an amusing and informative film which I think a broad audience will enjoy; it shows a side of life in Taiwan which most people don't see, and it is as much about human character, optimism, friendship and perseverance as anything. It is fresh, refreshingly non-commercial, and definitely entertaining.

Dragonbones wrote:
BTW, I was really pleased with the quality of the acting, especially that by the four Filipino leads. Really top notch!
Yes, I only met the two leads once (on the day they were filming at Ren'ai Circle) and Wi-ding has told me that throughout the entire process, they were all very professional and really wonderful to work with. Epy, in particular, was very easy to communicate with about what moods and emotions Wi-ding wanted to convey. A real natural, apparently.

It has been mentioned a few times in interviews that Epy and Bayani were not the original leads we were casting. Two years ago, we had a different Philippine producer and they were focused on a different actor. We ran into trouble trying to nail down terms with both our producer and that actor's agent. We had actually begun pre-production in Taipei before contracts were signed with both, and that was a fatal mistake. We ended up not being able to agree, and almost canceling the entire project altogether.

This was November 2008, and Wi-ding and I met in Taipei to decide if the project could continue. He'd been trying to get this done since 2005, and he wasn't going to do it half-assed with so much compromising (which was working what the first Philippine producer and the original lead actor seemed to entail). I didn't mind the delay, since I hadn't actually transfered any cash yet - Wi-ding was great about being very mindful of the investors. By calling a halt, he earned a lot of respect from me.

We set a deadline to find a new Philippine producer by CNY 2009. And did we - Mark Meily is a very experienced and very accomplished director in Philippine cinema. Unwittingly, I first met him the week his movie "Baler" swept the Metro Manila film festival that year (and of course, I was oblivious to that fact) but getting him on board was key to reaching Epy, Alex and Merryl. I think Merryl was actually at the Tribeca film festival at that time, or some other festival in New York. We had been talking to Bayani already, I think we originally had cast him in what became Epy's role. Unlike the first time around, their attitude, enthusiasm, and strong interest were so different.

It's hard to overstate how important it was to have the right people nailed down. It wasn't just that Mark was well-known in the industry, so he could open more doors. That wasn't really the problem to begin with. It was the quality of communication that transpired between Mark and Wi-ding. Filmmaking in the Philippines and Taiwan has many differences - contracts, expectations - but these two were able to connect and agree very quickly on a range of things that were needed on the Philippine-side. Mark understood who and what Wi-ding needed without as much discussion as the first time, so WI-ding's few trips to Manila for casting were more efficient and meaningful.

Can't say enough good things about Mark. He has a long list of accomplishments, but one of the more recent things he has done is adapt the Camera Cafe TV Show from France into a Filipino setting. His firm -- Spark Films -- won the contract for the Philippine market and has won awards and recognition for it, among many other things. Looking at the Wikipedia entry, I can see that Epy and Alex's sister were part of that show

Bayani and Epy do have great chemistry on screen.

Here's another tip in the movie - that very very last scene (which was actually the first scene that was filmed, because it was filmed onsite in the Philippines) is *not* part of the main story. It shows the close friendship of the two heroes, and was intentionally meant to be unclear whether it happened BEFORE or AFTER the main story in Taipei. There are a number of flash backs to the beach where they are from in the Philippines, so that final scene is supposed to be treated as EITHER a flashback or a flashforward. When I watched it with my inlaws at the Golden Horse, I explained this to them, but they figured it was easier to understand as happening after the main events of the story. (When you see it, this paragraph will make more sense)

Oh, and actually, I was kinda expecting the credits to roll while they were singing on the river. I don't know whether anyone else mentioned this to you. That would have made a good ending too.

I saw the movie at SPOT. Makes me feel at home while watching it and doesn't want the movie to end Great movie! I love the simplicity of it.

Just to share an experience, while waiting for the screening, I saw this petite chinese-looking man with a backpack loitering around SPOT's vicinity. As I was reading some clippings with pics on SPOT's bulletin boards, i just recognized that the guy i just saw was actually the director Thanks Mr. Wi Ding Ho and the production team for making this movie happen.

Does anybody knows if there are plans to release a DVD of the movie? Salamat po.

I watched the movie at SPOT as well! Lot's of Taiwanese students watching so the place was full and I had to sit in the 2nd row.

Pinoy Sunday was great! It's actually the type of film I would write a looooong paper on in my student days. There was a Q&A after the movie and I wanted to ask a question but I was too shy and my Mandarin is really poor... in the scene where they were fighting over the dog, why were the scenes cut/spliced so obviously? I was wondering if there was a metaphor behind that I wasn't getting...?

I was pleasantly surprised with Bayani's acting in this movie. The audience kept laughing at his facial expressions, especially the 'serious' face. He came across as someone you and I would know in real life... well played!

I'm really hoping to read a review on this movie that would outline/point out the underlying meanings/symbols of the story. For one, it wasn't obvious to me that the colors represented the flag until someone asked about it in the Q&A. I'm sure there are lots more such as what the sofa represents... and the ending...

Planning to watch it again! And I know my friends are going to watch too... Thanks so much to everyone who made this movie possible! Good luck with the film festivals - praying for the win!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Malaysian Film Director Epitomises Globalised Culture Of Film Making

From Manik Mehta

NEW YORK, May 8 (Bernama) -- Malaysian film director Wi Ding Ho who made good overseas is a fine product of globalisation.

Ho graduated from Kanbar Institute of Film and Television at New York University which had produced many talents in film making.

After 12 years in the West, Ho arrived in Taiwan in 2001, initially working as an advertising director before Taiwan's National Palace Museum commissioned him to shoot a promotion film.

This was followed with an assignment by Discovery Channel which asked him to do a film called "Portrait Taiwan: Liu Jin-biao".

Ho shot to fame when short film called "Respite" was premiered at the International Critics' Week of Cannes Film Festival in 2005.

He won a pair of awards, the Kodak Discovery award for best short film and the TV5 Young Critics' award.

"Respite" was the first film in Taiwan that used bleach bypass laboratory technique and shot only with one 85 lens camera.

Ho has just released his latest full feature film called "Pinoy Sunday", which many familiar with ethnic film making describe as a "bitter-sweet tragicomedy".

The film has been well received by critics and could catapult Ho to the forefront of global film makers with a penchant for offbeat themes.

Ho's rise to fame could provide greater visibility to Malaysia as the birthplace of many talented personalities living in different part of the world.

"Pinoy Sunday" tells the story of Filipino migrant workers in Taiwan.

Indeed, the film gives an entirely different perspective about Taiwan and the milieu in which foreign workers live.

The film has universal appeal as it could happen to foreign workers anywhere be it in Dubai, Singapore or even Malaysia.

Ho who lives in Taiwan was born in Muar, Johor in 1971.


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