"One of the most beautiful discoveries of this year's Cannes … A filmmaker is born."
- Les Inrockuptibles, Paris
Photo by Danny Lim
"The best of the more rapidly moving films are from Asia, one (film) of a gentle tempo bears mentioning... a poignant fusion of Eastern sensitivity with Western technical proficiency. The nearly doc-like shots of trees and factory interiors, studied in the best way, are seductive."
- Howard Feinstein, Filmmaker Magazine, USA
"For its ingenuity, freshness of vision, and creative command of cinematic language..."
- KARAOKE wins $25,000 Maverick prize, Toronto film critic Geoff Pevere
"Chong delivers a serene yet often striking debut feature ..."
- Eye Weekly, Toronto
"… mature directorial poise…"- Screen Daily
MALAYSIA 2009, 35MM, drama – 76:00min, Dolby SRD, 1:1.85, Malay with English subtitles
A Tanjung Aru Pictures production
International sales m-appeal
Produced with the financial support of The Global Film Initiative
With financial support from the Krishen Jit Astro Fund, and the Japan Foundation Kuala Lumpur.
Director/Producer/Co-writer~ Chris Chong Chan Fui
Producer~ Pierre Laburthe
Co-writer/Music/Lyrics~ Shanon Shah
DOP~ Charin Pengpanich
Production Designer~ Yee I-Lann
Sound~ Yasuhiro Morinaga & Akritchalerm Kalayanamitr
Editor~ Lee Chatametikool
The home has changed. The palm oil trees have grown in endless symmetry. The landscape rusts and the nostalgia turns. KARAOKE is a homecoming. BETIK returns to his village to help his mother with the karaoke a few years after the death of his father. During the day, he has also taken a job with his uncle making karaoke videos. KARAOKE is a story that takes you back home and lifts you off your feet.
: 2007 Berlin Int'l Film Festival, Script Clinic
: 2007 Boracay Co-Production Meeting, CINEMANILA/INT'L FILM FESTIVAL ROTTERDAM
: 2008 H.A.F.- Hong Kong Film Financing Forum, HONG KONG INT'L FILM FESTIVAL
: 2009 Cannes' Directors' Fortnight, France [World premiere]
: 2009 Toronto Int'l Film Festival, Canada [VISIONS]
: 2009 Calgary Int'l Film Festival, Canada [MAVERICKS] [WINNER Best film]
: 2009 Vancouver Int'l Film Festival, Canada [Dragons & Tigers competition]
: 2009 London Int'l Film Festival, U.K.
: 2009 Pusan Int'l Film Festival, South Korea
: 2009 Viennale Int'l Film Festival, Austria
: 2009 Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival, Taiwan
: 2010 Jan Feb - Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
: 2010 Hong Kong Int'l Film Festival, Hong Kong, [Asian Film Awards WINNER-Best Editor Lee Chatametikool]
“Balik kampung”, the Malaysian notion of coming home, is a romantic and nostalgic
ideal. It is the comfort of unconditional familial love and a home that is known and
accepting that brings Betik back. He wants his home to be his savior, but his return is
selfish and disillusioned.
The film plays on the illusion and reality of this return. The illusion is Betik’s need to
have a home, a job, and love. The reality is that everything and everyone has moved
on without him while he was away. He tries to maintain the illusion throughout the
film, denying the reality with every person that he meets.
The mother’s karaoke business becomes a home that harnesses both the illusion and
the reality. The karaoke videos are the illusion, while the landscape and his
relationships are the reality.
As customers look up at the karaoke videos, they see images that are idyllic: beautiful
beaches, rivers, and blue skies. In reality, the representation of these images is
inaccessible. The reality for the villagers is the palm oil plantation. Row after row of
palm oil trees that spread endlessly. A plantation that is green and plentiful, but
entirely artificial. A ‘green’ that is unsustainable to any living flora or fauna. It is only
an illusion of nature. This is the reality of the environment the villagers lives in, while
the karaoke videos offer the opposite.
A mini-film in the middle of the story abruptly breaks the rhythm of the film for a
deliberate purpose. The walk through the overgrown palm oil trees and the violent
mechanization of the palm oil processing mill shakes his memories. There is a new
factory at work. It is this factory that has created a deceptive and artificial
environment disguised as a ‘green’ forest of palm oil. A forest that of artificial products
created by an artificial environment.
The karaoke songs play an unconscious role as another voice. Initially unassuming,
the song lyrics become more and more prevalent as it compliments and contrasts the
storyline and the tension that ensues between the various characters.
As Betik takes a job making karaoke videos, he slowly crosses over from reality to
fantasy, until the very end when he is fully immersed in the fantasy itself. A fantasy
he is unable to escape from.
Betik’s denial of his reality and Malaysia’s denial of its changing artificial landscape
become deeply rooted. What is the reality of our environment and why are we unable
to see past the illusion of this place we call home?
-Miss Ayu, review, www.GUA.com.my, 6 Nov 2009
"Sebuah masterpiece seni filem... Saya tak sabar menontonnya di layar perak."
-Dain Said, pengarah filem 'Dukun'
-Firdaus Sahat, METRO AHAD
""Ketengah keghairahan jiwa anak muda"
- Zul Husni Abd. Hamid, BERITA MINGGU
-Sofia, KOSMO AHAD