Singapore producer bets on subcontinental films

·3-min read

New Delhi, Jul 11 (PTI) Singaporean film producer and screenwriter Jeremy Chua, whose association with Bangladeshi director Abdullah Mohammad Saad has yielded the enthusiastically received Un Certain Regard title 'Rehana Maryam Noor', is betting on other subcontinental filmmakers, too.

Chua is currently working with Nepalese director Deepak Rauniyar on his third feature, 'The Sky is Mine', a Nepal-Singapore-Norway- France co-production which won the award of the Torino Film Lab’s Co-Production Fund 2019.

Rauniyar’s second film, 'White Sun' (2016), premiered in the Venice Film Festival before screening in the Toronto International Film Festival.

'The Sky is Mine' is a socially-inflected race-against-time drama that revolves around a female police officer, the first woman superintendent in Nepal, who plunges into a kidnapping case that nobody wants to deal with. Chua also has a project in development with the Indian filmmaker duo Roshni Sen and Aniket Dutta. He is collaborating on the venture with 'Brahman Naman' producer Dina Dattani.

Dutta and Sen made the 2019 film 'Shonajhurir Bhoot' ('Ghost of the Golden Groves'), a mould-breaking diptych steeped in Bengal’s tradition of fantasy tales. Saad’s sophomore effort, which has the perfectly cast Azmeri Haque Badhon in the titular role, got a prolonged standing ovation after its world premiere at the 74th Cannes Film Festival.

“I first met Saad at the Singapore International Film Festival,” says Chua. “I saw 'Live From Dhaka' (Saad’s first film) and he saw 'A Yellow Bird' (which Chua wrote and co-produced). I was drawn to his writing and storytelling style, peeling complexity of human nature through enigmatic characters put in difficult, dangerous situations.” Chua’s film company Potocol, dedicated to development and co-production of independent Asian films, is only seven years old. The consistent quality of its output has earned Chua a formidable reputation.

Potocol co-produced Filipino maestro Lav Diaz’s 'A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery' (2016), which was in Competition in the Berlin Film Festival, where it won the Alfred Bauer Prize.

Chua’s first film, 'A Yellow Bird', directed by Singapore’s K. Rajagopal, screened in the Cannes Critics Week in 2016.

His other production credits are Chinese filmmaker Ying Liang’s 'A Family Tour', Malaysian-born, Philippines-based Bradley Liew’s 'Motel Acacia', Singaporean director John Clang’s 'A Love Unknown' and Filipino Raya Martin’s 'Death of Nintendo'. The critical accolades that 'Rehana Maryam Noor' has garnered in Cannes has vindicated Chua’s belief in Saad’s sensibility.

“Rehana is unflinching in its raw and headstrong approach to character study,” says the producer.

“The beauty of Saad’s work with his team and his cast is that he is not obsessed with beautiful pictures or perfect aesthetic; he is always looking for authenticity and inner tension,” says Chua.

The collaboration with Saad has inevitably piqued Chua’s interest in Bangladeshi cinema.

“Saad has influenced me and my filmmaking in many ways since we started working together… There is a lot of talent from Bangladesh that I did not know of before and this made me want to explore its cinema history and filmmaking culture.” PTI CORR SHD SHD

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