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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Films inspired by MH370 emerge at Cannes

Posted: 18 May 2014 10:20 PM PDT

Special previews and screenings of the films are being shown at the film festival to potential buyers.

Two films inspired by the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 are being touted to buyers at the Cannes Film Festival, barely two months after the plane vanished with 239 people on board.

Potential buyers will get a sneak preview of A Dark Reflection by Fact Not Fiction Films at a "screening" today, according to a full page advertisement in industry trade journal The Hollywood Reporter

What Happened On Flight 313? reads the advertisement which appeared last weekend and shows a woman silhouetted at the end of a runway. The runway lights glow behind her while overhead a passenger jet looms in the darkness lit by two harsh white lights.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared on March 8. (On the A Dark Reflection official website, the director's note states that the project began in January 2013.)

Meanwhile, a half-page advertisement in the The Hollywood Reporter's Cannes edition last week publicised another similar film.

The advertisement for The Vanishing Act featured a plane rising out of the clouds under the caption "The untold story of the missing Malaysian plane".

A 90-second teaser trailer showing terrified passengers and a gun being brandished was shot over six days in Bombay, Variety said in a report.

It is being promoted by Indian film director Rupesh Paul, the man behind erotic movie Kamasutra 3D, and was presented to buyers in Cannes on Saturday.

Paul, who denied the film was insensitive so soon after the disappearance, said he began work on the project after being contacted by a Malaysian journalist who said he had a theory about what had happened.

He then spent 20 days working on a screenplay using the journalist's idea for the ending, the report added. The filmmaker said he was confident he could make the movie work even if the wreckage of the plane was found.

People had suggested to him that his investment would be wasted if the plane was found and the explanation put forward by his film turned out to be incorrect, he said.

"That's the biggest challenge I'm facing ... Everyone in the world, they want to know what happened," he was quoted as saying.

In addition to being the world's biggest film festival, Cannes is also a huge film market and each year attracts over 10,000 buyers and sellers from around the world.

It was not known whether the "screening" of A Dark Reflection would be of a full or part-completed film, or another trailer.

MH370 has been missing ever since it mysteriously diverted from its Kuala Lumpur-Beijing route in March. It is believed to have crashed into the sea far off Australia's west coast.

Australia, which is leading the hunt in the ocean far off its west coast, has said it believes it is looking in the right area based on satellite communications from the plane. — AFP

HK filmmaker Fruit Chan's 'The Midnight After' is a hit

Posted: 18 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Hong Kong director reflects city's souring mood with new film.       

The director of a post-apocalyptic thriller that has taken Hong Kong's box office by storm says the film has struck a chord in a city grappling with its identity under Chinese rule.

"People are getting very angry about the government. This film is their voice," said Fruit Chan, whose The Midnight After has so far collected more than HK$20mil (RM8.3mil) at the local box office, making back more than four times its budget.

The horror-comedy is a return to form for one of Hong Kong's few commercially successful independent directors, boasting typical Chan ingredients of ultra-violence and distinctly local, black humour.

Adapted from an online novel, The Midnight After places a group of people in a mini-bus late at night. When the bus emerges from Hong Kong's Lion Rock Tunnel, they find the streets deserted after an unexplained calamity hits the city.

The film is rich with allusions to current events in Hong Kong, and is one of a handful of recent movies tapping into a sense of collective confusion and rising anger over where the territory is headed.

"After Hong Kong joined China, many things have changed in our town," said Chan.

"I follow very closely what is happening, and that's why I included in my film elements that certainly have to do with politics," said the director, speaking to AFP at the 16th Far East Film Festival in the northern Italian city of Udine.

Under an agreement between Britain and China before Hong Kong was returned to Chinese rule in 1997, the "One Country, Two Systems" maxim would see the territory retain its semi-autonomous status and enshrine civil liberties not guaranteed on the mainland.

Fruit Chan (inset)

Fruit Chan

The mood has soured since 1997. Protest marches are a frequent sight amid perceived erosions to Hong Kong's status, a sense of declining press freedom and fears that Beijing will row back on promises that the city – whose current chief executive is appointed by a pro-Beijing committee – will see a transition to universal suffrage by 2017.

This has been coupled with a rising tide of anti-mainland Chinese sentiment as Hong Kong experiences an influx of about 40 million visitors from across the border every year, pressuring services and space in a territory of seven million.

Chan references both issues in The Midnight After, which makes some subtle jibes at the leadership of unpopular Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and touches on a perceived marginalisation of Hongkongers within their own city, where a soaring property market is out of reach for many.

Chan, 55, has long been one of his city's most socially aware directors, his acclaimed Hong Kong trilogy of Made In Hong Kong (1997), The Longest Summer (1998) and Little Cheung (2000) examining the effects the handover was having on the lives of everyday people.

Chan said audiences in Hong Kong have become increasingly politicised since 1997, when his Made In Hong Kong did not chime as well with its audience at the box office as his current release.

"We were afraid that when people understood this film had to do with politics, then it might be ignored. But there's been a great reaction to the film, many debates, many opinions raised by it. The change was not in my approach, the change was in the audience.

"Other audiences might not understand everything that is going on in the film but we hope it can help inform them about our city," said Chan, who is planning a sequel.

The Midnight After is one of a number of current Hong Kong productions steeped in nostalgia for a city - or even a society - film-makers feel is fading from view.

Pang Ho-cheung's drama Aberdeen is another, and one that highlights through its characters a collective confusion about what the future will hold.

The bawdy comedy Golden Chickensss makes constant reference to the effects "mainlandisation" is having on the city in which it is set.

Chan welcomes the trend and hopes the city's next generation of movie-makers will continue to follow suit.

"Young film-makers all want to be commercial straight away," he said.

"But I am saying to them, make a short film and tell your stories first. Don't rush. Talk about people before you rush around and make action films." – AFP Relaxnews

>The Midnight After and Aberdeen are showing in cinemas nationwide.


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