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“When Hainan Meets Teochew” urges word of mouth

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“When Hainan Meets Teochew” screened to a full house audience on its debut at Sinema Old School and The Arts House on 3 November.

During the Question and Answer Session, director Han Yew Kwang urged the audience to help spread the word of the movie.

“If you like it, tell your family and friends, and make sure that they come and watch. If you don’t like it, tell them also and let them make the decision as to whether they want to watch,” he said.

Filmed on a budget of $10,000 from National Arts Council, the initial filming schedule of nine days stretched to six months due to scheduling issues among the actors.

“The casts will come for the shoot after their work, and often, we only start shooting at 10pm. By the time it’s 11pm, everyone is tired and we wrap up, so we end up shooting only one scene for the night,” he explained. “A lot of times, me and Chee Nien (producer) wanted to give up, but when I go back and look at the footage, I feel encouraged to finish the film.”

Even though it was named as an “anti romance comedy involving a manly woman and a womanly man”, some of the audience questioned whether it is about “romantic love” or “love in general”. Han replied that the aim of this movie is to encourage audiences to “let go and be courageous in love”. He added that while the movie portrays two characters seeking for a lifelong partner regardless of physical appearances, it also represented his current ideal on romance.

During the Q&A session, the main casts Lee Chau Min (Hainan-boy) and Tan Hong Chye (Teochew-girl) repeatedly emphasised that they were not together. “I asked them what are the chances of them becoming a couple, and they replied ‘one percent’. So based on this ‘one percent’, I decided to make a movie on them. Without them, there wouldn’t be this movie,” Han said.

Working around scheduling difficulties and limited budget, they made use of limited resources by recycling props from previous projects and realism to create idiosyncratic characters. One of the examples was Ah Guang (Alaric Tay),the ghost brother of Teochew-girl, who was killed 10 years ago while trying to protect Teochew-girl from gangsters’ taunting.

“The purpose of the ghost was to show the contrast between the masculine brother and feminine Teochew-girl, and for ‘something’ to hold Teochew-girl back from becoming a hundred percent girl. Because of limited budget, our ghost don’t even float through walls,” he said.

Adding on to his comment, Tan said, “This movie is very original because we are not wearing makeup. And that’s because we don’t even have the budget for makeup. But because of that, what you see on screen is very close to who we really are.”

When Hainan Meets Teochew will be screening till 19 December in Sinema.

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