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Joanne Yew (right) and Ben Andrew Pfeiffer act out their roles as Bee and her English fiancee, Benji, in the movie, 'The Journey'. — pic courtesy of Astro Shaw
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By Sharifah Arfah
THE Journey, a locally-produced heart-warming movie about family ties and cultural differences, is going places.
Netting RM17.17 million at the box office, the movie has broken all previous local blockbuster records.
The top spot was previously held by action film KL Gangster that grossed RM11.74 million in 2011.
The Chinese film is the first attempt by Johor-born director Chiu Keng Guan to direct a family drama.
His first two films — Woohoo (2010) and Great Day (2012) — were comedies.
Things are looking promising now that it has received good response at film theatres in Singapore and is awaiting a screening date in Taiwan.
The Journey also screened in the Beijing Film Panorama category at Beijing International Film Fest in China, from April 16 to 24, and is currently premiering in Europe at the Udine Far East Film Festival in Italy until May 3.
“It was totally unexpected and overwhelming even though I knew that it’s going to do well.
“I like to tell my story via visual and sound.
“I also think now is the best time for making films since there are many talented new people emerging and a variety of platforms are available for creativity,” says Chiu in an interview with The Rakyat Post.
The film is about Bee (Joanne Yew), who returns from her studies in England with a Caucasian fiancee Benji (Ben Andrew Pfeiffer) in tow, much to the chagrin of Bee’s conservative father Uncle Chuan (Frankie Lee).
While Uncle Chuan disagrees with his daughter’s choice, he grudgingly decides to accept on condition that Benji accompanies him on a journey across Malaysia to deliver the wedding invitations to his old friends.
“It is definitely an attraction to feature new actors and it is also full of challenges, but everything fell in place with great team effort,” said Chiu, on casting actors with little experience.
Its two main stars — Yew and Pfeiffer — have their own unique experience, arising from their involvement in the film.
Penang-born actress Yew was the last to audition for the film and was surprised when she eventually was chosen to play the character of Bee.
The film was Yew’s first movie venture. She played a supporting role in the local television drama Age of Glory 2.
“I actually learnt to embrace the Chinese culture. As a modern-day Chinese girl, I get carried away and being a part of this film got me back to my roots.
“The best part of The Journey is learning to embrace the Chinese culture and traditions.
“I hope this experience will linger on and sincerely hope others will learn to embrace their own culture after watching the film,” says Yew.
Pfeiffer, a stage actor in Australia, knew nothing of Malaysia, the people or the culture prior to his involvement in the movie.
“I chose to experience many things first-hand in front of the camera.
“That way, my own experience is deciphered as Benji’s experience.
“It’s also challenging to act with so many languages and dialects involved.
“But that was the key to the film working because I was portraying an outsider, and it’s a natural response,” he said.
The RM3 million film was produced by Woohoo Pictures and distributed by Astro Shaw.
It was showing for 55 days at major theatres nationwide, and currently showing on Astro First, while DVD releases are available in the market.
Watch the movie trailer below to catch glimpses of what it has to offer.
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