Kampung movie among Neo's 3 films next year

Kampung movie among Neo's 3 films next year

After making Homerun (2003), popular home-grown director Jack Neo had always wanted to make another movie exploring kampung family life - and he will finally get to do so with the release of Long Long Time Ago next year.

"I have all these fond memories of my own childhood growing up in the kampung - you know, catching earthworms in muddy ponds and rearing pigs at home - and I wanted to make a movie that can really showcase those good old days," he tells Life! in Mandarin following a press conference held at Marina Bay Sands yesterday to announce his latest project.

"After I made Homerun, I've wanted to explore kampung life a lot deeper, to tell a more complete kampung story. And what better time to make this movie than next year, when Singapore celebrates its 50th birthday? The movie will evoke a lot of good memories for many Singaporeans."

Homerun, his remake of Iranian flick Children Of Heaven (1997), was about a pair of siblings in 1965 Singapore.

Long Long Time Ago, a $6-million project to be released in two parts, is said to be a heartwarming story about a single-parent family and will take them from Singapore's birth in 1965 all the way to the present day.

The first part, due out at the end of next year, will focus on the kampung days, while the second part, scheduled for release in 2016 during Chinese New Year, will have the family move out of the kampung and into HDB flats.

The new project will cap a busy year for the film-maker as he also has Ah Boys To Frogmen out next Chinese New Year, followed by his short film contribution to the SG50 omnibus by seven home-grown directors, 7 Letters, in July.

"I know it's going to be a really tiring year for me but Singapore celebrating its 50th year is too momentous for me to miss. I don't think I'll be around to celebrate Singapore's birthday when the next 50 years come by," says the 54- year-old with a chuckle.

"Anyway, getting all of the filming and production done is not my biggest worry. My bigger headache is casting for Long Long Time Ago as I'm looking for people who can speak dialects and also not look too modern, so as to properly reflect that time period."

Open casting calls will likely start in January, while production will begin in May. He is currently in the process of scripting.

Neo makes it clear that even though his new film also marks Singapore's golden jubilee, it will be vastly different from his SG50 short film contribution, a project that was first announced a few months ago.

7 Letters, which is funded fully by the Media Development Authority of Singapore and the Singapore Film Commission, features short films by directors Neo, Royston Tan, Eric Khoo, Boo Junfeng, Kelvin Tong, K. Rajagopal and Tan Pin Pin.

Neo says: "My short film will be about a young couple's first love experience but the feature is rooted in family.

"At first, I was reluctant to be part of the omnibus because I already had plans to make Long Long Time Ago. But the Media Development Authority kept telling me that it's so rare for so many local directors to come together on a project, so I said yes. It's really going to be a busy year for me."

Long Long Time Ago - Part 1 is slated for release at the end of next year.

This article was first published on December 11, 2014.
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