Malaysia, 2009, 74min
DIR: Chris Chong (Chong Chan Fui)
Former resident-Canadian director Chris Chong Chan Fui returns to his Malaysian roots with his feature-length film directorial debut, Karaoke.
The highly-anticipated film opens with voice-over conversations heard amidst a bustling karaoke bar. The server is Betik (Zahiril Adzim), a recent graduate returning home from Kuala Lumpur to his small village in the Malaysian countryside. His mother is the recently widowed owner of the modest establishment, which she runs with Betik's uncle. Determined to help his mother by taking over the family business, Betik settles into the life he always assumed he'd have. He even pursues a recent love interest, Anisah, and all seems to be going well until Betik's expectations and aspirations begin to deteriorate.
With a background in experimental film, it is no wonder that Chong poetically divides the film between Betik's story, cheesy karaoke videos and the constantly-altered landscape of the Malaysian countryside under palm oil industrialization. Starring in a few karaoke videos himself, the ironic pangs of reality slowly become clear to Betik - his idyllic perception of a countryside home are merely a delusion.
As a testament to the attention sparking on Malaysian cinema, Karaoke was screened and nominated for a Camera d'Or award at the 62ndAnnual Cannes Film Festival. Chong hopes the film properly characterizes and represents Malaysian filmmaking, giving it an idiosyncratic style and voice.
Dragons & Tigers Award Nominee
Schema Magazine's coverage of VIFF 2009 is sponsored by the Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival
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