From canvas to film
Local painting inspires new short by Eric Khoo
Eric Khoo might be best known for his edgy, socially-critical feature films such as 12 Storeys and Mee Pok Man.
But the inspiration for the 51-year-old local director's next project was a humble 1977 oil on canvas painting, Portable Cinema, by 84-year-old local artist Chua Mia Tee.
The painting is also the title of Khoo's new five-minute short film, which he described as a tribute to Chua.
It will be one of five shorts inspired by Southeast Asian paintings at the National Gallery Singapore, which will be shown as the omnibus Art Through Our Eyes at the Gallery later this year.
Khoo worked with the Gallery to recruit four other award-winning South-east Asian directors, who will each produce their short films in their home countries.
They are Indonesia's Joko Anwar (Raden Saleh's Wounded Lion), Malaysia's Ho Yuhang (Latiff Mohidin's Aku), the Philippines' Brillante Mendoza (Fernando Cueto Amorsolo's Marketplace during the Occupation) and Thailand's Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Raden Saleh's Merapi, Eruption by Day and Merapi, Eruption by Night).
Funded by the Gallery and the Singapore Film Commission, the collaboration was first pitched by Khoo after the success of last year's video series called My Masterpiece, in which 12 well-known Singaporeans discussed a painting that impacted them.
The series was produced for the Gallery by Khoo's production company Zhao Wei Films.
The other four directors made their final selections after looking at over 400 paintings from the Gallery's South-east Asian collection, but Khoo zeroed in on Chua's art from the start.
He has been a fan of Chua's for many years, but it was Portable Cinema that caught his attention and blew his mind.
"It's magical! I would love to own a trishaw like that," Khoo told The New Paper yesterday at a press conference for Art Through Our Eyes, referring to the equipment with which Singaporeans could watch short films in the 1940s.
He came up with the storyboard for his short film at the start of the year and spent one-and-a-half days a month or two ago filming it. The short is now in post-production.
When asked about his next project, Khoo revealed that it will be a feature film co-produced with Japan and that he hopes to film it at the end of this year.
Although he remained secretive about its topic and production details, he teased: "I love sushi and Kyoto."