Boomtown Beijing at the 21st Singapore International Film Festival

Boomtown Beijing will be screening at the 21st Singapore International Film Festival on the Wed 9th April at 9:15 pm and Sat 12th April at 2pm at the Sinema Old School.More details soon.Watch the trailer for the 21st Singapore International Film Festival directed by Victric Thng


My Beijing Olympics documentary website

All films are about ways of seeing. In other words, points of view. Hopefully a POV that is unique and useful for the rest of the world.

Hence, a film’s website is an opportunity to create a rich and multi-layered context that helps the audience appreciate that unique point of view.

Unfortunately, that is not what traditional film websites do. Film websites typically come across like brochures posted on the web. Like all brochures, they put great emphasis on static information– synopsis, screening information, biographies of the crew and cast.

In contrast, bestselling authors use the web in a more dynamic and sophisticated way. They illustrate and further explore the theories and concepts that are first introduced in their books through an ongoing blog.

Take for instance, Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired magazine, uses the website for his book, The Long Tail, to comment on current events that illuminate the idea of the Long Tail.

Taking a leave from these authors, I would like this site to be a film website with a difference.

Beyond the obligatory film information, it will also create a context for understanding the themes of the film, the Beijing Olympics phenomenon (believe me, it is a phenomenon) and the complexity of contemporary China.

A tall order. But I believe it can be done.

Top Ten Things You Didn’t Know about the film “Boomtown Beijing”

10) This documentary about the Beijing Olympics grew out of a module on “International Documentary Production” that the director, Tan Siok Siok, taught at the Beijing Film Academy, China’s famous film school.

9) 4 of the producers on the project are current undergraduate students from the Management Faculty of the Beijing Film Academy.  They are led by Chief Producer, Hu Tingting, who graduated from the BFA in 2005.

8) Almost everyone on the production team is a current student or recent graduate of the Beijing Film Academy.

7) The initial idea for the film came about as a result of a conversation among four friend over drinks in Hou Hai, Beijing’s popular night life district.  All four go on to play key roles in the production of the film — they are Tan Siok Siok (Director), Hu Tingting (Producer), Zhao Dahai (Director of Photography), Tong Zhijian (Cameraman).

6) One of the sources of inspiration for the film is a series of 19th century Japanese woodblock prints,”36 Views of Mount Fuji” by the artist Hokusai.

5) Filming took place between May to September 2007.  Hence the working title of the film was “The Summer Before the Olympics”

4) The director thinks that the first 100 days after the Beijing Olympics would make an even more fascinating documentary.

3) Billboard along the streets of Beijing containing slogans and advertisements about the 2008 Olympics feature prominently in this film.

2)  The closing scene of the film was shot on the eve of Oct 1st, China’s National Day and the beginning of week long national holidays dubbed the “Golden Week”.

1) When you google “Beijing Olympics documentary”,  the official website of the film Boomtown Beijing is #2 out of more than 87,000 hits.

My First Film Festival Poster

I recently presented my documentary about the Beijing Olympics at the Guangzhou International Documentary Festival.

Boomtown Beijing is my first independent film and making the festival posters was a big thrill. Mainly because I did it at the last minute — the day I arrived in Guangzhou. I got them printed at a little shop right next to the famous Sun Yat-Sen University.

GZ Doc Festival Poster

A big thank-you to Carrie Dee Cao, a graduate student at SYSU who helped me pull it together. She also coordinated and publicized my guest lectures at the university.

Talk about useful local knowledge!

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Iranian director Majid Majidi makes Beijing Olympics documentary

Fascinating piece of news, Iranian director, Majid Majidi is making a short documentary about the Beijing Olympics.

Iranian director makes documentary on Beijing —-穆民先驅

Known for his sensitive portrayal of children in films such as Children of Heaven and Colour of Paradise, Majidi will explore the 2008 games from the perspective of children.

I am curious to find out how this legendary Iranian director will approach the topic of Beijing Olympics.

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Olympics Logo Bike: A Grand Gesture

Whenever I tell people I am making a documentary about the Olympics, one of the first questions they ask me is: “Are you featuring athletes?”

When I say that I am making a film about ordinary people and their Olympics dreams, the response I often get is one of surprise, even of incredulity.

But I can point to ample evidence of the extraordinary efforts some Chinese people have invested into dramatizing their passion for the Olympics.

Olympic Logo Bike

Check out this story about a man who has modified his bike into the shape of the Olympics logo:
Sunday Photo: Olympics Logo Bike :: China Digital Times (CDT) 中国数字时代

Talk about grand gestures…

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Sounds of Beijing

I have worked in TV my entire career. But secretly, I enjoy radio more. By that, I mean really well-produced radio features that use sound to trigger the listener’s imagination.

I am into the final stages of post production for my documentary about the Beijing Olympics and I have been hunting obsessively for sound recordings of Beijing.

Here is a gem of a sound collage that I have found on the web:

Perhaps it is because I am a foreigner but to me, each environment in Beijing sounds a little different from the others. Urban vs Suburban. Old vs New. Downtown vs Outskirts.

Listen, for instance, to the sound recordings of the Dazhalan district in Beijing, an old area that is being demolished in the leadup to the 2008 Olympics.

Like pictures, sounds give us important cues to urban transition and transformation.

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