All eyes on Malaysia

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IS Malaysia becoming the next rising force in Asia’s multi-billion film production industry? At least Hong Kong comedian actor Chapman To seems to think so. 

Bucking the trend in recent years in which many Hong Kong film makers have sought partnerships and capital from their mainland counterparts, the 42-year-old To reckons “there is more potential in terms of a Hong Kong-Malaysia collaboration”.

Citing reasons such as multilingual talent, greater freedom in projects, nice weather and “beautiful women”, To and his Malaysian partner, director Adrian Teh, have reported to have jointly formed Dream Moon Sdn Bhd early this month.

The pair is investing HK$50 million (RM22.4 million) in Dream Moon and have plans to churn out three flicks a year, engaging Hong Kong and Malaysian artistes. Chinese media report that the production house will focus on RM3 million to RM5 million comedies — a niche that has made To a popular crass comedian in the Hong Kong entertainment circle. 

Dream Moon’s first movie project, slated to kick off in mid-2015, will be a horror comedy about a suspect being killed while interrogated by seven policemen, thus leaving the police station haunted.

The second project, also a horror comedy, takes place in a prison and will rope in Hong Kong veteran Anthony Wong Chau Sang, reports claim. 

To, of the “Infernal Affairs” and “Initial D” fame, played cameos in movies until his big break in 2012 in the comedy, “Vulgaria” which won him the Best Actor nomination nods at both the Hong Kong Film Awards and Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards. 

Another homegrown best actress at seven

She beat Taiwanese goddess Tien Hsin, 39, Singapore starlet Rui En, 33, as well as Chinese-American seasoned thespian and director Joan Chen, 53, to bag the Best Lead Actress title at the 19th edition of the Asian Televison Awards (ATV) 2014 in Singapore, last Thursday. 

And that force to be reckoned with was Malaysia’s homegrown talent Puteri Balqis Azizi, who is at a tender age of seven.

Puteri Balqis, or fondly known as Aqish, was crowned for her role in the TV3 telemovie, “Balqis”, directed by Erma Fatima.

Receiving her trophy onstage, the little darling said the winning was “unbelievable”, and charmed the audience in dedicating the award to her homeland, Malaysia.

Aqish, who started acting in 2011, also won the Best Actress accolade at Malaysia’s Anugerah Skrin 2014 on Nov 7.

This year’s ATV received 1,371 nominations from 14 countries in Asia-Pacific to compete for a total of 38 awards.

The likes of Balqis and Crystal Lee, 11, who was named Best Actress at the Shanghai International Film Festival in June 2014, thus making her the youngest ever actress in the festival’s history to win the prize, may have provided Malaysia bragging rights for being a growing ground for younger acting talent.

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This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on December 19, 2014