Production Talk - "It's a Great Great World" by Kelvin Tong

With Chinese New Year round the corner, there'll be a string of movies all waiting to be released in lieu with the prosperous spirit and the time for family together-ness! However, unlike the rest of movies, the renowned night spot, The Great World Amusement Park, was revived and brought to the screen by our very own talent, Kelvin Tong! Here's a ride to unveil what goes behind the screen for It's a Great Great World!

SINdie: What are some of the highlights of the film (in the final product) to you personally?

Kelvin: The film buff in me delighted in the reconstruction of Great World's iconic Sky Theatre, the romantic in me reveled in the Brylcreem-meets-hairband 60s courtship between Joanne Peh and Zhang Zhen Huan, the lounge lizard in me dug the saxophone vibes of teh Flamingo Niteclub, and the glutton in me identified with the nattering chefs in the kitchen of the Wing Choon Yuen Restaurant.

How did you manage to transform Keat Hong Camp into The Great World? Did you build 'buildings' like Sky Theatre and Flamingo Nite-Club from scratch? And it must have been difficult transforming a barrack into something that looks like entertainment, was it?

It wasn't too difficult because being one of the older camps, Keat Hong is filled with buildings that are largely one-storey. This made it easy for us to lash the facades of our set to the existing buildings. In addition, Keat Hong Camp had a very spacious and uncluttered layout. This allowed us lots of space to build the hugemongous Tua Seh Kai set.

This was picked up from another website: one interesting 'character' in the film seems to be the Wing Choon Yuen restaurant (correct me if I am wrong). Could you share more about the relationship of the restaurant with the film?

A lot of older Singaporeans know about Great World's famous Wing Choon Yuen Restaurant. That was where lots of them had their first dates, their wedding banquet, the one-month celebration of their babies and their silver jubilees. It was THE restaurant in Singapore. With such a rich heritage, Wing Choon Yuen fascinated and inspired me endlessly. The fact that they are still in business (now called Spring Court and located along Upper Cross Street) is a testament to the longevity of the Wing Choon Yuen brand.

What was the 'Kelvin Tong' touch in this production? Perhaps because it is a big-production with many stars and a set-up, how have you given to the film that is uniquely you?

I like to think of my contribution as invisible. I think you can spot me in the way the stories are told, the way the characters are presented and the way the whole film, including the sound design and film score, comes together at the end. Maybe I am the only Singaporean filmmaker mad enough to not just make one period film but four (It's A Great Great World spans the 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70s till present day) at one go.

How long was production and what were some of the greatest challenges you faced in production?

Time. Or the lack of. Because of the huge ensemble cast (we have 30 plus stars), there were lots of schedule conflicts. Artistes are very busy by nature and it is very hard to coordinate 30-odd actors. In order to reconcile everybody's conflicting schedules, I had to shoot the whole film in 19 days. Which I did. And, believe you me, it was a truly grueling shoot. However, the actors' talent and positive attitudes made the whole ordeal worthwhile.

Any amusing or interesting anecdotes from the shoot?

While researching the design of the Great World set, we stumbled upon an unexpected problem. All of the old photos we had of Great World were black and white. That means we had no idea what color everything, such as the facade of Great World, was. It was hilarious. So, we decided to ask older Singaporeans who had been to Great World. They came back with all kinds of conflicting answers. Suddenly, it occurred to us that they were all correct, except they each remembered a different color from different time eras. You see, Great World went through many transformations from the 1930s till it shut down in 1978. So different people have different recollections situated within different time eras. It's a sobering reminder of the unreliability of memory.

What's another place in Singapore that you would like to be made into an 'epic' of a similar scale like this and why?

Too many to list them all here. Some examples I would love to see on the big-screen are the former Satay Club, New World Amusement Park and the Van Cleef Aquarium. Haha, wishful thinking on my part

What are you working on next?

I don't know. I'm taking a short two-week break and then I'll start conceptualizing my next feature. However, as creative director of Raintree Pictures, I will be producing a movie about Singapore radio because this year marks the 75th birthday of radio.

Xiang Yun steals the limelight (or rather moonlight) in this 'studio' shot

Be sure to catch It's a Great Great World at your nearest cinema!

A Woman’s Dream of the Night Sky

A Woman’s Dream of the Night Sky

by Lisa โมเซส
on 12 February - 10 March 2011
at 9 Art Gallery/Architect Studio / Chiangrai
(053) 719 110, (083) 152 6021

I am thrilled by the photographs taken by the Hubble Space Telescope of outer space and distant galaxies. The beauty of these amazing photographs has a mystical quality.

I discovered that I could create a blend of my painting and drawing with photographs of the galaxies, and this discovery has opened a universe of possibilities for my art work.

My experience as a ballet dancer has a significant influence on my work. I am enamored with the beauty of line and movement in dance, and much of my work has focused on capturing the strength, muscle tension, and abandon of dancers in motion. I often give my work the feeling of movement even when the subject isn’t about dance.

Some of my pieces use birds as a focus, and others feature elephants, and even giraffes. There is such a grace and beauty in these animals, that to me is earthly and also has an unearthly quality. I like to blend a combination of the universe and a cloudy blue sky to create a connection between people, animals, the earth, and the stars.

Music is another theme that is a natural for this concept, and my husband, a musician, makes a great model. I often create pieces with forms that are not immediately apparent. I might put an elephant within an elephant, or a small dancer almost hidden against a galactic background. I use colors and patterns that make the form visible only after looking closely.

All of the pieces in this show are cast acrylic collage prints, and all of them have an element of the universe or “night sky.” I created these prints over the past year drawing from my thoughts and dreams about people, Thailand, and my life.

"Nang Songkran" by Sompop Budtarad

ARDEL Gallery of Modern Art will hold the art exhibition:

"Nang Songkran"

By Sompop Budtarad

From February 15 – March 20, 2011

Open Reception On Tuesday February 15, 2011 at 6.30 pm

At ARDEL Gallery of Modern Art

“Nang Songkran” by Sompop Budtarad presents paintings depicting the legend of Nang Songkran (Thai Goddesses of Songkran), the urban story that relates to the Buddhist belief and the local way of life closely connected to the agricultural culture and society. The artist applies the symbol of fine art as the means to transmit his notions, beliefs, and the beauty of a goddess named Kirinee Dhevi, the Songkran goddess of the year 2011. Kirinee Dhevi dresses elegantly and has a magnolia behind her ear. She mounts on an elephant, her food is nuts and sesame and her gem is emerald. While on her hands there is a hook on the right and an arm gun on the left.

ARDEL Gallery of Modern Art
Tel: 0-2422-2092,084-772-2887 Fax : 0-2422-2091
E-mail :
Website :
Open hour : 10:30~19:00 hrs.(Closed on Monday)

Invite you to activities as part of “Dialogues”

Bangkok Art and Culture Centre invite you to activities as part of “Dialogues”
An Exhibition as a tentative assessment of Today’s Arts and Design relations to traditional culture
by France Dupin de Beyssat, Xavier Lambert, Giovanna Massoni, Philippe Agea

Performing Art by Michel Clerbois and Stylish Nonsense
Saturday 29th January, 2011, 2:00 pm
9th Floor Gallery, BACC

Dialogues between Artists
Sunday 30th January, 2011, 2:00 pm
9th Floor Gallery, BACC
A dialogue between two artists Manit Sriwanichpoom and Marin Kasimir in view of “Art in Public Space”

**Free Admission

For more information
Public Relations, BACC
Tel. 022146630-8

HomeComing (笑着回家) Review: Home Is Where the Heart Is

As the saying goes, "a house is not a home". Well, this begs the question: what exactly is home?

There are some local films that attempt to examine this problematic concept of home, as well as its attendant notions of belonging and community. The more ambitious ones conflate home with the nation and attempt to explore one's identity with regards to the Singaporean soul - whatever the hell that may be.

Homecoming (笑着回家) is smart in that its premise cleverly helps to navigate itself out of the quagmire of impossible answers and heavy-handed philosophical musings. The onus here is on the journey; its conceit is that it thrives on the (reasonable) assumption that audiences carry a tacit knowledge that wherever the characters end up in the end, that is 'home' to them. It does not matter how different the homes of the different characters are, because the film makes it clear it is the ride that matters most. And it sure is one hell of a ride!

The film weaves together three stories with vastly varying tones. There is the insufferable chef Daniel Koh (Mark Lee) firing his entire staff on the day he is supposed to prepare a reunion dinner for the Minister of Culture, except for the capable, ebullient restaurant manager Fei Fei (Jacelyn Tay). As they say, when it rains it pours, so somehow amidst the chaos in his restaurant, he also finds the opportunity to further push away his already somewhat estranged daughter (Koe Yeet).

There is the pair of newlyweds, Boon (Huang Wenhong) and Jamie (Rebecca Lim), who just got back to their parents' place for reunion dinner, except that a small dilemma plagues them. They have a free flight to Bali on the night of the reunion dinner, and so have to leave early; they have no idea how to break this news to their parents. While somewhat lapsing into caricature, the couple - in particular the English-educated wife played by Rebecca Lim - does reflect Gen X's and Gen Y's growing disdain with tradition.

Then there is Karen Neo (Jack Neo) and her irritable son Ah Ming(Ah Niu) who embark on a roadtrip of sorts to get back to Kuala Lumpur for their family's reunion dinner. Of course, Jack Neo's cross dressing stint is one of the highlights of the film (and a fact not forgotten by the film's marketing team). He hamming it up here as a naggy aunty brings to mind his exuberant turn as the wildly hilarious Liang Po Po years back. The scenes in this third story contain the funniest moments in the film. The mother-son duo has a dynamic chemistry between them, but this is quickly weighed down by Koe Yeet's character bumping into them on the coach they are taking. Her character is an emotional trainwreck in the aftermath of her father's outburst towards her; her entrance into this scene is reminiscent of the wet blanket crashing a party he was not invited to. Her forced expressions are starkly foregrounded next to Jack Neo's and Ah Niu's naturalism as they effortlessly inahbit their characters, and her scenes on the bus with them feel extremely uneven in tone and energy. Having said that, the doe-eyed Koe does bring a certain vulnerability to her character.

Fortunately, despite all the emotional histrionics of an angsty teen, the mood is buoyed upon the arrival of a taxi driver, Zool (Afdlin Shauki), who helps rush Karen Neo and Ah Ming back to their home.

Directed by Lee Thean-Jean, who has written and directed episodes of TV's The Pupil, Homecoming (笑着回家)is quite the debut feature film. From the get go, Lee displays a keen eye for pacing and he shows a clear aptitude for drawing audiences in. The opening tracking shot of Jacelyn Tay entering the restaurant while on the phone and then leading all the way into the kitchen is beautifully filmed. And within the first five minutes, all hell breaks loose.

While the first two storylines seem to take a backseat to Karen Neo's misadventures, overall Lee has handled the multi-layered narratives with much aplomb. Due in part to clever editing, the newlyweds' more intense and sombre scenes are quickly balanced by Karen Neo's hilarious antics; the storylines work to complement each other. Hence, the film doesn't descend into over sentimentalism and melodrama nor lose itself in whimsy comedy.

Still, some character arcs feel more fully fleshed out than the others. The 30-something bumbling but likeable goofer Ah Ming is a mere functionary - he is only in the film to elicit laughs (nothing wrong with that though). Perhaps the writers should have left it at that, because the feeble attempt to complete his character arc at the end by matchmaking him to a somewhat hot lady seemed almost superfluous. Koe Yeet's emotionally battered character could have been a highlight of the film - she goes through a journey of self discovery and finds healing in the kindess of Karen Neo and her son - and yet her stilted mannerisms were rather distracting and difficult to sit through. She pouts; she frowns; she looks sad; her acting lends no nuance to what could have been a rather interesting character, though on the plus side Koe does carry an air of vulnerability that makes her character more sympathetic. I thought Mark Lee's cranky chef and Rebecca Lim's Jamie had moving and believable storylines, in particular the former. After going through hell, with a little help from his friend Fei Fei, he discovers the value of family and realizes he has neglected his own.

As a local comedy, the film works on most levels: it has the gags that are at turns unsettling and funny, and it has the requisite plethora of clumsy antics to fuel the slapstick humour. And though far from being perfect (being riddled with minor plotholes and such), the film still works as an brilliant affirmation of the family unit and its importance, without descending into moralizing it. And when you come to the end of the film after one hell of a rollercoaster ride, it is easy to feel a strange kinship to some of the characters, almost as if you were the one who just went home yourself to have dinner with them.

Singapore Films. Four Genres. One Story.

Ever Wonder how many film studios Singapore used to have?
(So far I know there's 1...but that's only 50% Correct)

Ever Wonder how many Black and White films Singapore filmmakers
have made in 1930s-1970s?
(Er...I am guilty that I don't know about it)

Ever wonder who is Singapore's 1st Female Filmmaker?
(No...not Wee Li Lin...)

Embark on the history of Singapore Films...

ONLY at Library@Esplanade!

Video Credit:National Library Board

"Something's interesting to share..."

ShoutOUT!: SG Films@library:18 Grams of Love

From Jan - March 2011, library@esplanade, in partnership with the Singapore Film Society, will be hosting a showcase of local films - SG films@library. The screenings will take place every 2nd and 4th Friday evening of the month. All screenings will be followed by a meet-the-filmmakers session + Q&A discussion held at the Open Stage of library@esplanade. You can also expect some SG films memorabilia & prizes to be won at the Q&A sessions.

Programme Lineup & Ratings

Jan 28, 7:30pm - 18 Grams of Love (PG)
by Han Yew Kwang

Feb 11 - White Days (NC16) by Lei Yuan Bin
Feb 25 - Invisible Children (PG) by Brian Gothong Tan

March 11 - Lucky 7 (R21) an exquisite-corpse feature by 7 SG directors - Sun Koh, K Rajagopal, Boo Junfeng, Brian Gothong Tan, Chew Tze Chuan, Ho Tzu Nyen & Tania Sng

March 25 - DownLeft Dirty (R21)
5 Short Films
Bedroom Dancing & Dirty Bitch by Sun Koh
A Family Portrait (Un Retrato De Familia) & Tanjong Rhu by Boo Junfeng
Haze by Anthony Chen

Today's Screening:18 Grams of Love[PG]

The Straits Times : Tiong Bahru is shabby chic

The Straits Times
27 January 2011
By tan shzr ee

It suddenly dawned on me that Tiong Bahru was hip, with an old-world charm

This weekend, Civic Life: Tiong Bahru, a film on Singapore's historic Tiong Bahru district, opens in one of London's arthouse cinemas, Renoir.

Helmed by British film-makers Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor, it stars 'real life' people of the famed area's markets, who struggle with big decisions about life choices, belonging, identity and place.

My own tiny contribution to the project as a voiceover artist allowed an initial glimpse of the rushes, which showed Tiong Bahru in all its old-world charm, its almost ridiculous greens, reds and oranges; its dated multi-storey carparks that were so ugly they could almost be beautiful.

And then, it suddenly dawned on me: Tiong Bahru was hip. Old housing board developments were being reclaimed as not-quite 'historic' districts than viable, livable spaces whose slightly worse-for-wear and once unfashionable facades were now the epitome of cool.

Rydwan, my fellow consumer of Singaporean nostalgia in London, concurred over a Facebook chat: 'Yes, TB is quite the hip. No gentrification yet. Outram Park, Changi Village, the old Seletar airbase - people in these neighbourhoods have this solidarity and pride about their own kampungs. You never find it in Yishun or AMK.'

What about Chinatown?

'Chinatown where got people live there anymore? Same as Bugis.'

Yes - I agreed. They were choc-a-bloc with beautiful hotels, too-trendy design boutiques, or indeed the creature which crossed both genres: boutique hotels.

But what then, of Holland V?

'Too ang moh. But it's still villagey.'


'Hmmz. Not hip... yet. But getting there. It's seedy. Got edge.'

And Siglap? With its wine merchants and all?

'Laidback hip. It's the Holland V of the East but not so ang moh.'

And so we went through major sections of Singaporean topography, debating over their merits and faults in terms of our very own definitions of hipness.

As it turned out, Ryd's definitions were slightly different from mine, although we both decided that hipness was not so much measured by design-worthiness or pure old-world charm or youth culture, than an X factor reeking of tried-and-tested aliveness.

I, for one, ruled out Siglap on the grounds of its too-obvious colourful and new cafes in restored buildings which seemed to be reaching out to yuppies every single second.

To me, the architecture of the area and its communities seemed to be always declaring, oh-so-self-confidently, that it was neither Bukit Timah or Orchard Road, but 'a real village'. Not that I wouldn't choose to live in this beautiful district though - self-admitted pretentious bourgeois bohemian that I really am.

But Siglap did not have that unplanned, quirky and slightly rundown feel of slow-burning buzz which Outram Park, Selegie, Geylang, Redhill, Toa Payoh - even Ang Mo Kio and Balestier which Ryd felt could not make the list - all possessed.

As far as I was concerned, these neighbourhoods all had an uncle touch: they sported those ubiquitous, singlet-wearing, balding 60-something males who would be squatting by the pavement, griping about the abominable fashion sense of 'those young people' when not stoning in front of a kopitiam widescreen TV broadcasting the English Premier League.

And the 'uncle' touch wasn't just about live, grumpy old men in tatty clothes populating public and open spaces. It was a whole ethic - of shabby chic, of has-been-ness and finally, of a steely determination to remain marginally relevant to the pulse of everyday life in Singapore, every moment.

Of course, there are uncles in Yishun, Holland V and Siglap too. But they were not so much central to the landscape than incidental to it. They were either holed up in their swanky third-generation HDB flats' air-conditioned 'guest rooms' (watching the English Premier League, no less), or dutifully and invisibly walking their precious grandchildren to kindergartens and nursery schools.

Real uncle-hipness was a different matter: Here was an old man's stubbornness, an old man's recalcitrance - whether demonstrated in physical displays of kiamsiap (stingy) behaviour in disputes over correct change at the coffeeshop, or metaphored in the defiant, graffitised but not yet mouldy paintwork of walls, building archways and void decks.

In my books, Tiong Bahru - with its brilliant reds, greens, oranges, dirty yellows and ucky beiges - has the original 'uncle-hip' factor. And where newer, shinier, multi-purpose multi-swimming-pooled executive condominiums with skywalk passageways might cause you to take deep intakes of breath from within as well as from afar, I'm equally happy taking the heat any day from your cantankerous uncle on his crumbling, roadside perch in some rundown corner of neglected - but still alive - Singapore.

The film-makers are giving away 100 DVDs of Civic Life: Tiong Bahru. Go to for more details.

It's A Great Great World-Reliving the past

Darren(Ong) witnessing Kelvin Tong's Red Carpet moment at the Gala Premiere
The emcees having a quick chat with director of the film,Kelvin
Kelvin struts past proudly on the red carpet!
In the past, the box office was like this, now we have AXS machine to process our movie tickets orders!

All-too-familiar faces at the Gala Premiere...The cast appeared in 4 batches due to the 4-story structure in the film. This group appeared in the Wing Choon Yuen restaurant segment. Wing Choon Yuen is the former name for the current Spring Court restaurant at Chinatown.

Jeremy (Sing) : 'Not sure how to pose with this rickshaw....mmmm'

Nostalgic Lok Lok(Kebab) on the bench,That is how it is placed on in the past...A wooden pushcart with a metal plate to place the food.However,this version does not have a special sauce to dip in. We tried and it was cold, so we wondered if they were meant for display actually..... No stomach ache so far.......
(Believe it or not,it used to cost 5 cents for a stick of Lok Lok!)
Kacang Putih and Biscuit in Tin boxes...but HEY,what's Modern?
(Spot it?Drop us a comment!)

SINdie duo with 'nostalgia king' Royston Tan who happens to be one of the VIPs of the Gala Premiere. Wonder how Great Great World will be like if he directed it?

SINdie duo with the man of the night, Kelvin Tong. Thanks Kelvin for your kind words about the blog! Stay tuned for an interview with Kelvin on making It's a Great Great World, 大世界。

Trying to experience 'blogger-pampering' at the opening of 'Homecoming'

Lai Weijie, a filmmaker himself, works as concierge at the gala premiere of the latest film 'Homecoming' or ‘笑着回家’。 The poster is somewhat old-fashioned and intentionally so I feel. It's got that old-school 'show-all-character-faces' style and the faces look painted.

Being at the red carpet event was electrifying. You would be amazed how Jack Neo never fails to pull in the crowd and this time without being in drag. Even Mark Lee is starting to get his own fan base, which gives hope for show-biz wannabes. The cast, seen here is not doing some team motivation cheer, they are tossing Yu Sheng, a colourful part (or shall I say scene) in the film.

Citizen journalists these days can compete with media in terms of documenting an event.

Actress and my friend Sharon turns the heat on in this picture with 'warm glow'.
Raymond Tan and myself (Jeremy Sing) were actually invited as bloggers instead of media for a change because we signed up with's 'Homecoming' blogger invite to the premiere. Being greedy kiasu Singaporeans, we saw freebies like free tickets and a chance to mingle with the cast, so we decided to go a 'a blogger' instead of media.

It was strange being part of the blogger group because we felt a bit like in a quarantine - we were in this cinema hall with lots of empty seats and it was strange knowing the main action and the thousand congratulations was happening in cinema hall 1. Oh well, we enjoyed the extra legroom!
Turning up at the cast party was a tad strange because when we entered, the bloggers were seated in an orderly fashion on both sides of the Gallery Bar. We thought we entered a self-help session or something, we were all so quiet! (Doesn't help they only serve orange juice and not alcohol!). Ah Niu (阿牛), Jack Neo, Koe Yeet and Rebecca Lin made a late appearance. While waiting, we were speculating if the cast would actually sincerely enjoy entertaining the generally lukewarm blogger group or gives us the 'I do this job' every other day. Thankfully, they managed to entertain with words.....

And music.

Catchy song eh..... and of course pictures :))
Actress Rebecca Lim and SINdie writer Raymond Tan

Freebies!!! We won ourselves each a soundtrack CD from the movie which is basically the same song sung by the different artistes and there are the HK-accented versions and the vanilla versions. LOL!
By the way, the movie was a blast! Thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We learnt a lesson too: NEVER never throw away your 4D ticket

Whose Line is it Anyway - Number of Words

Oh yes. I love this "Whose Line is it Anyway" game which featured the classic tale of Romeo (Ryan, 3 words) and Juliet (Josie, 4 words) as well as Juliet's disapproving mother (Colin, 2 words) and father (Stephen Fry, 6 words). Especially this part by Stephen Fry: "Once. A. Capulet. Always. A. Capulet". Heh. Brilliant! Check out the clip here.

Sri Trang Agro-Industry IPO

Sri Trang Agro-Industry IPO closed yesterday. The pricing, however, is delayed to Tuesday from Monday due to unfavourable market conditions. Wait that means today, and we still have not known the final price of this IPO? Unfavourable market conditions for this particular stock? Not good. For sure I'll give it a miss.

SRI Trang Agro-Industry has launched its offering of new shares for a dual listing on the Singapore Exchange (SGX) to raise up to $448 million - higher than the $360 million that the market was expecting.

The world's largest processor of natural rubber is offering 280 million shares at a maximum price of $1.60 apiece. Net proceeds are expected to total up to about $427 million. The issue comprises 266 million international placement shares and 14 million public offer shares.

Sri Trang said the final price will be determined on Jan 24 after the completion of a book building process. The total Singapore offering represents 22 per cent of Sri Trang's enlarged share capital.

Sri Trang will continue to trade on the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET), where it has been listed since August 1991. Its shares sank 0.75 baht to close at 37.5 baht yesterday. Sri Trang's market capitalisation stood at 36 billion baht (S$1.51 million) on Dec 31, 2010.

The company plans to channel $277.6 million of the expected net proceeds to expanding its rubber processing facilities to take production capacity up to 1.5 million tonnes annually by 2012. It now has 21 facilities in Thailand and Indonesia that produce 860,259 tonnes a year.

About $85.4 million will be used to purchase up to 8,000 hectares of additional land or rubber plantations over the next four years. The remaining $64 million will go towards Sri Trang's general working capital.

Joint issue managers, bookrunners and underwriters for the IPO are JPMorgan (SEA), CIMB Bank Singapore, and Standard Chartered Securities (Singapore). JPMorgan (SEA) is the sole global coordinator for the offering.

The public offer in Singapore closes on Jan 24 and share trading is expected to start on Jan 28.

From Business Times, "Sri Trang IPO seeks $448m in SGX dual listing". (21/01/11)

The Thai stock exchange suspended trading in rubber producer Sri Trang Agro-Industry yesterday ahead of the pricing of a Singapore initial pubic offering (IPO), which has depressed its share price in Bangkok.

The world's largest processor of natural rubber is expected to raise up to S$360 million through its listing on the Singapore exchange. Singapore is a big centre for rubber trading and the company already has a subsidiary there.

Thailand's largest publicly traded rubber maker initially announced plans for a dual listing last May and it was scheduled for September but global market uncertainties caused a delay.

Since the latest Singapore listing plan was announced on Jan 13, Sri Trang shares have dropped 10 per cent from around 41 baht to 36.75 baht on Friday as some investors expected the IPO price to undercut the Bangkok price.

The company, currently valued at US$1.2 billion on the Thai bourse, has said that it would offer 280 million shares at a maximum offer price of S$1.60. Its closing price in Bangkok on Friday is equivalent to about S$1.53.

The company said that it planned to use the proceeds from its new share offer to acquire and build processing facilities, pursue acquisitions and for working capital.

Sri Trang will continue to trade on the Thai bourse, where it has been listed since August 1991. It primarily makes blocked rubber for tyres and counts Bridgestone Corp, Michelin and Goodyear Tire & Rubber among its big buyers.

From Business Times, "Sri Trang suspended in Thailand ahead of S'pore IPO". (25/01/11)

Update: Sri Trang dips below offer price in debut trading. Not a good start.

UNABLE to hold on to the gains it made, shares of the world's largest rubber producer and exporter, Sri Trang Agro-Industry, finished the first trading day on the Singapore Exchange one cent below its offer price of $1.20.

The 0.8 per cent fall yesterday came after investors pushed the secondary-listing stock to a high of $1.25 following its $1.15 opening. But Sri Trang, whose primary listing is in Thailand, surrendered those gains before dipping below its listing price. About 33.7 million shares changed hands.

Over on the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET), Sri Trang's shares continued to dive to close 5.7 per cent lower at 33 baht (about S$1.36) for a price-earnings ratio of 10.85. The company's shares have been falling since it announced plans for the secondary listing on SGX, with investors expecting the offer price to undercut its trading price in Bangkok and amid poor market conditions in Thailand. It was the best performer last year among the 479 members of the SET gauge, soaring 696 per cent as rubber futures rallied, according to Bloomberg data.

Its lacklustre performance on the SET following the secondary listing announcement led the firm to delay the pricing of its Singapore offer by two days, before setting one that was significantly below its stated maximum of $1.60 - which would have helped the firm raise $448 million, based on 280 million new share issues. The company ultimately netted $336 million in gross proceeds, and its share sale was 0.81 times subscribed.

Sri Trang currently has 21 facilities in Thailand and Indonesia that produce 860,259 tonnes of rubber a year. It is also looking to acquire additional land or rubber plantations over the next few years.

Last Wednesday, the company confused investors when it suddenly said in an announcement on the SET that it was abandoning plans to list in Singapore amid poor market conditions in Thailand. It then revoked its statement, saying that it was an error.

From Business Times, "Sri Trang dips below offer price in debut trading".

ID-SaTEE by 8 young female artists

artSoulution # 3
Art Exhibition “ID-SaTEE” By 8 young female artists

Opening 4th March 2011 at6:30 pm.
Display on 4th March - 8th April 2011
@ Teeoli-d’ walks of art space

“Spiritual aesthetic and self – actualization from the upcoming female artist”

Obviously that numbers of male artist predominate the female artist.
This does not signify that artpieces from female artist is unacceptable or woman has little interest in art.

Many effect from social, culture and/or environment that do not support woman make the situation occur internationally
and also in Thailand erstwhile.

Social progress develops the way people open themselves in expressing their idea without any sexual limitation including in the art field thuscreate many original artpieces from new female artist. In order to acquire the spiritual aesthetic from woman who has their own concept about their social surrounding, culture influence, self-actualization,and sensuous perception about the sexual influence in creating art ; ID-SATEE – the art exhibition – then becomes one of the supporting art activity for upcoming female artist to exhibit their original inventive
artwork which had been refine and affirm by leading art institution.

The objective is to express the interpretation of incident having on social by female artist,
and also to broadcast the artworks which in turn create an experiences exchange and public knowledge to the audience.

Ms.Chitmanee Chongwitookit
Ms.Jiratchaya Pribwai
Ms.Kahat Sujipisut
Ms.Marisa Eaimwong
Ms.Soontaree Chaleawpong
Ms.Supprark Nupprart
Ms.Suriwan Sutham
Ms.Vinita Sethsoontree

“ Impromptu ” (Don-sod) by Naruemon Padsamran

Sombat Permpoon Gallery is delighted to present abstract contemporary paintings and sculptures “ Impromptu ” (Don-sod) by Naruemon Padsamran.

Naruemon’s work is inspired by her appreciation of the unique, lively tempo and conversational style of singing in found in the type of Thai folk music from the Isaan area known as Luk –Tung and Mor-Lam. From this passion for the music, Naruemon creates her art by evolving old Thai folk concert billboards into abstract contemporary paintings and sculptures which convey the “postures” and “rhythm” of Thai Folk music dancers, known as Hang-Kreung. These dancers, usually found performing behind the singers, are moved, from a typical outdoor stage where such concerts are staged, to a gallery space, as part of Naruemon’s vision to communicate the movement and music within a still object.

“Impromptu” Mo-Lam is defined as composing music while in the moment, simultaneously singing or playing an instrument in response to another Mo-Lam band. Naruemon also defines the “Impromptu” series as a conversation within herself, using her success and learning from her failures in the past 3 years to create series of dialogues within her creativity and materials into her improvisation (Don-sod)of Mo-Lam

For further information, images and media representation, please contact:

Panada Lerthattasin, Manager
Phone: 0-2254-6040-6 f: 0-2254-6048

No Rabbit On The Moon by Supachet Bhumakarn

Supachet Bhumakarn089-9501329 / 084-1771799

“No Rabbit On The Moon”Painting Exhibition by Supachet Bhumakarn, a Thai Artist The Rotunda and Garden Gallery, The Neilson Hays Library on February 1-27, 2011

Subsequent to the exhibition on paintings of elephants at the Neilson Hays Library during 2002-2006, begun from being impressed with the elephant’s conflicting character having an external image of being huge, with black rough skin, but with a cute and intelligent personality. This caused the artist to continue to draw elephants until this animal has become a symbol or his signature work.

His artwork since 2005 has therefore been increasingly added with other symbols such as birds,
trees, falling leaves, and a variety of surroundings. All of these are meant to relate the painter’s feeling at that very moment.

The exhibition to be held again in 2011 will display the symbols of the rabbit and the moon and will represent the artist’s imagination which tells of his fear of losing it as the result of increasing
burdens in making a living. When time permits to look back at himself, he wants to preserve this imagination as long as possible because the path of those who create artworks this part of the imagination is the most important.

For more information please contact:
Angelique Leijdekker, curator of The Rotunda & Garden Gallery, at the Neilson Hays Library by email or telephone the office 02 233 1731 or view:

Neilson Hays Library195 Surawong Rd, Bangkok tel: 02 233
1731Opening hours: Tuesday - Sunday 9.30am-5pm

He is jealous for me.

Rock and roll!

A Train Ride with Apichatpong Weerasethakul, winner of the 2010 Palme D'or

The experience of being able to hear Cannes Best Picture Director Apichatpong Weerasethakul share about Thai films and filmmaking one-to-one, was undoubtedly humbling. There was a strange duality of feeling like you are talking to star who's won his accolade on the other end of the globe while also feeling the closeness of hearing something from a neighbour who shares a common Southeast Asian experience and mentality. But here I was, taking the escalator, crossing the roads and squeezing with the MRT crowd with a person whose name I have grown accustomed to only on my precious DVDs of his films. Though soft-spoken, he speaks with a sureness about what he believes in and wants.

Jeremy (J): What is the most significant issue facing filmmakers in Thailand and perhaps yourself at the moment?

Apichatpong (A): (pauses to think) I think about funding often. However, this is a very common problem to filmmakers worldwide, independent and even Hollywood ones.

J: Is there government funding available for Thai films? for instance, in Singapore, the government gives out some money for short films and selected feature films.

A: We had it last year, and it created quite a controversy because the distribution of funding was quite , how do you put it…. not transparent, at least for me, or that the knowledge of the committee or the people who drafted this funding scheme, was not adequate. It shows they do not have enough knowledge of international funding schemes….how to make it equal and fair for filmmakers. And I don’t think we are likely to have it this year. So I don’t always feel we can (pause)… trust our government in terms of funding because it is always unreliable. In fact, I have more trust in the public sector.

J: Private investors?

A; Ya, because it is stronger than the government.

J: Who are these people? Are they businessmen or…

A: They are people who are interested in the arts and particularly movies. But because of their job, they do not have the time to be involved. And another issue is censorship. Because in Thailand, you cannot make anything that is disruptive to society. So, anything can be applied under that.

J: I guess it’s very loose.

A: Yes. For, example you cannot portray the policemen in a bad way. (pause) The censorship board has become like a moral police. If they do not think it is right, they can ban it. I think the system is quite fascist. The last movie that was banned was a movie that dealt with transsexuals. The government said ‘oh, it’s not a good image for the Thai young people.' Even though they have a rating system, they don’t really trust their own rating system. It may be because even with the ratings, people can still sneak in. (pause) There is another film that has high school students kissing, in fact, not even kissing, they were only about to kiss and the censors stepped in.

J: Really?!

A: This is really a ridiculous time we live but I am sure it will be gone in the future.

J: Is this strictness just at the current moment or…. I am wondering if it really is a reflection of the Thai society or not, because I have watched several Thai films and having been to Thailand, it definitely feels more tolerant than Singapore. I feel Singapore is a conservative society. So am I right to say that Thais are generally quite open but it’s just the authorities…

A: Yes, it’s the authorities and it’s a flippant society too. What is deemed right and deemed wrong changes very quickly. But certain in this current climate when there is political chaos, the government tries its best to unify the country, behaving like a big brother. As a result, they eliminate some voice and pretend to be THE voice of freedom.

The way I maximise the use of my gadgets... that familiar phone

J: You were saying that they in your case they could not do much because your winning brought good news in a time of uncertainty.

A: They do not want to create controversy. (pause) You know this film about the transsexual… the filmmaker made repeated appeals and was turned down so now, they are campaigning against the government. I feel that is a good thing because people, especially filmmakers have become more aware of their freedom.

J: When you started making films, you were outside this strict studio system in Thailand (I read this somewhere), in what ways was it strict?

A: The Thai film industry is not big and they only have a few studios. These studios operate like families. The boss dictates most of everything and it does not give much freedom to filmmakers. The filmmakers are like puppets.

J: So here is not much freedom on the stories they want to tell…

A: But you know this is normal for studio movies, it’s not a bad thing, it’s just the way it is.

J: Who do you consider pioneered Thai arthouse cinema? Were you one of them and how was it starting out this cinematic genre?

A: It would be quite embarrassing to call myself a pioneer of Thai arthouse cinema. The circle is very small. We do not have something of a movement like the French new wave or the Japanese new wave. That you can tell because it is such big movement. In Thailand it is just individuals doing their own things so it is not really a movement.

J: The first Thai arthouse film I watched was Last Life In The Universe, was that one of the first Thai arthouse films?

A: No, there was a film before that that was banned and it called My Teacher eats Biscuits. I haven’t seen it. But it was made in the 90s.

J: Do you know who it is by?

A: Ing-K. I-N-G and K.

J: I will go check it out. (pause) Obviously you make personal films… was it difficult to do so knowing it may not find an audience in Thailand at that point of time?

A: I make films for myself and I don’t compromise for others. It’s not an issue for me. It’s very hard to say what will make money. Even many studio films flop. So I end up making my personal films.

J: So your first feature was Mysterious Object at Noon. How much did you spend making it? Obviously, you did not spend too much but I loved it a lot.

A: I never count but it probably cost 3 million baht or something.

J: I will do the conversion. (pause) And that was private funding?

A: Yes, and grants from the Hubert Bals Fund from in the Netherlands, and Fuji and other companies as well.

J: How many short films have you already made before that film.

A: Maybe 4-5?

We cross the MRT barrier at Douby Ghaut station still maintaining the conversation.

J: What’s your feel about the social climate in Singapore?

A: I can’t really tell but I can imagine it can be tough in terms of freedom of expression.

J: Well the government controls and censors a lot. But actually the worst thing is actually not the government censorship but self-censorship. I feel because of the education system, the people have grown up to be mini-governments themselves.

A: With the internet now, do you think there is more resistance from the young?

J: I guess though we are still largely controlled by the baby-boomers (our parents). And they listen to the government more.

Our train arrives.

J: Are there a lot of young independent filmmakers now in Thailand?

A: Yes. It’s got to do with the affordable technology.

J: How do they cope with the money?

A: It’s their personal money and friends helping friends… but generally, it is cheaper to make films now. So actually, the money is not biggest issue. The more worrying issue is censorship or self-censorship under the Thai education system.

J: You were educated overseas right?

A: No, I was educated in Thailand in a very conservative school and society at that time.

J: What are some of your favourite Thai films of all time?

A: There is an old film called Son of the Northeast. Not because I am fond of the Northeast but because of the style of the film. It’s very mature.

J: When was it made? In the 60s, 70s?

A: No, 80s.

J: What other films?

A: I like many films made in the 80s when I grew up. If I look at them now, I may not like them. But as a good memory and for the nostalgia, I still like them. They did not imitate Hollywood and used dubbing.

J: How about some of the more recent films?

A: (pondering) I like Killer Tattoo by Yuthlert Sippapak.

A rare shot of filmmaker Apichatpong in an MRT train - rare for several reasons, one's got to do with the filmmaker and the other SMRT of course!

Poster of Thai film 'Son of the Northeast'

Poster of 'Killer Tattoo'

We face some barrier problems at the exit point of the Chinatown MRT station.

A: Sometimes, he made very good films, sometimes, not so good.

J: Commercial film?

A: Yes.

J: I will have lots of homework to do after this (laughs).

A: But I don’t know if you will like it. It is very kitschy, like Japanese comics.

J: I find the current set of Thai directors so diverse in their styles.

A: That’s what I mean, all very different. We each have our own calling. Like Singapore?

J: Well, let me give you a mini history of Singapore films. We had a long period when we did not make films until the 90s when Eric Khoo drew attention to the arthouse genre by putting a Singapore film on the world map. However, I feel this (and how the media wrote about this) sometimes sends a signal to the younger generation that to gain some recognition from making films, you need to make these types of very serious and depressing films. So there are many filmmakers who want to go the arthouse route and not enough enterprising people who dare to make the commercial or funny movies.

A: That’s the same as Thailand. There are not enough good commercial movies. We should really be trying to build an stronger industry with good scripts and good acting.

J: Talking about acting… you work with non-actors right?

A: Yes.

J: How do you manage to get them to work with you? I mean they have their own jobs right?

A: I pay them. (laughs) Well, I pay them to work with me for a period.

J: Can you tell a bit more about how you work with them and create the kind of effect we see in your films?

A: We do a lot of workshops, really important to break their.......

The madness of the Chinatown crowd slowly unfolds itself as we emerge at the top of the escalator. There was a pregnant pause as we beheld the huge crowd.

A: To break their consciousness about the camera. To have a camera on them all the time. Also, to get to know them. You know professional actors do not have time for that.

J: You know you have some actors who have acted in several of your films. I vividly remember the older lady in Uncle Boonmee, was she also the same lady in Blissfully Yours?

A: She was also in Iron Pussy and Syndromes and A Century.

J: And how do you get your actors to do such brave acts? Like the sex scene in Blissfully Yours?

A: Ahhhh, it was very difficult. I tried very hard to convince her. I had to explain to her that it was about human condition, not really about sex. It’s about desire.

J: Final question: What’s the most common question you’ve been asked since you win the award?

A: How did the award change my life?

J: Okay. I will not ask that. I will leave you to move on with what you need to do.

A: (laughs) Okay sure.

J: Thank you so much for the interview! All the best for your future.

He disappears into the sea of people in Chinatown.

All photos were shot by Thomas Tan

'Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives' by Apichatpong Weerasethakul opens at the PictureHouse from 27 Jan. This film won the Palme D'or at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival.

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