“To open Singapore is a huge thing for us,” says Malaysian director Dain Iskandar Said, whose “Interchange” opens the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) today. “That is partly because the festival is run by young people and we like what they are doing.”
“What is means for us as a company and for people expressing South East Asian culture is right up our alley,” he said. “What (the SGIFF organizers) are aiming for is not just Singapore, but also regional. We always try to engage with both the local and the regional.”
“Interchange” is part detective thriller, part shamanistic fantasy, and is inspired by real events a century ago when a Norwegian explorer travelled through central Borneo and took photographs of tribal women bathing in a river. The cast includes Malaysian TV personality Shaheizy Sam (“Songlap”), Indonesia’s Nicholas Saputra, rising star Iedil Putra and Indonesian actress Prisia Nasution (“Sang Penari”.)
After debuting in 2007 with “Dukun,” Said shot to global prominence in 2011 with his debut feature “Bunohan: Return to Murder.” It had its international debut at Toronto and won a slew of awards around the world.
Said is now planning “Vektor” as his next film. “It is sci-fi with a human angle,” says Said. “It is not so much about technology, although scientific, technological and biological elements are there. It’s not like spaceships and all that. Instead, you have the clash of values between the rational world and magic. When technology becomes highly developed, it becomes magic.”
The first draft of “Vektor” is done and will go through several more versions. Producer Nandita Solomon, also the producer of “Interchange” through their Apparat company, has secured partial equity financing and will look for the rest at global co-production markets.
“Interchange” had its world premiere at Locarno in August and has since played several festivals including Toronto, London, Sitges and Vladivostok.
France-based sales agents Reel Suspects closed a rights deal for Spain at Locarno with Luis Bellaba’s Film Buro Producciones Internacionales and has also licensed Switzerland (Preasens Film) and Taiwan (Deltamac). A number of further sales will be revealed at the European Film Market in Berlin 2017, Reel Suspects’ Matteo Lovadina said. XYZ Films is representing the film in North America.