Wednesday, 22 September
6:30 p.m. – Korean Studies Auditorium
Singapore, 2008 (75 min)
Tamil with English Subtitles
Director: Eric Khoo
Cast: Francis Bosco, Jathisweran, Grace Kalaiselvi
Francis (Bosco Francis) is a man at the end of his tether. The former magician often takes solace in the bottle and barely ekes a living as a cleaner in a nightclub. He has a 10-year-old son he desperately loves, but sorrow, guilt and constant inebriation have made him an ineffectual father. The son (Jathishweran) is a stoic old soul who has learned to bury his affection for his old man and to cope with his chaotic life.
A broken spirit and a single parent, Francis hopes to redeem himself and win his son’s love and respect. He makes a painful – and bizarre – return to magic. An unexpected incident one night sets father and son on the road. In a dilapidated building, these two wounded souls come to terms with their love which is as deep and acute as their grief.
ERIC Khoo’s new movie My Magic addresses issues of love, life, family ties, redemption and magic. The filmmaker describes it as his most personal piece of work to date.
“I’m a dad myself and for the longest time, I’ve wanted to do a movie about a father and son, the obstacles in their relationship, and how they get together despite the difficulties,” says Khoo whose four boys are aged between 8 and 14.
It is also inspired by lead actor Bosco Francis, a real-life magician whom he has known for more than a decade.
The director says: “This guy is larger than life. I wanted to do something with him, and for him.” He roped in journalist Wong Kim Hoh to work with him on the script. The two old friends have collaborated on Khoo’s last two projects: Be With Me, a moving omnibus feature which opened the Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival in 2005; and No Day Off, a short film about the trials and tribulations of a maid, which has been shown to critical acclaim in various festivals.
“Kim Hoh and I have been talking about the project for some time but we were sidetracked by other ideas.” However, in late 2007, Khoo started reading Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, a Pulitzer prize-winning novel about the adventures of a man and his son in a post-apocalyptic world. “The book inspired me to nail the project down,” Khoo says. He did, within two short weeks. “It is my fastest shoot to date. Kim Hoh was in India for work but I’d send him ideas and he would flesh them out. We finished the script in a couple of days,” he adds.
In the meantime, he had already assembled a crew including Adrian Tan, the cinematographer who also lensed Be With Me. Workshops were also arranged for Bosco and Jathis, the young actor playing his ten-year old son. “The workshops were crucial because I wanted them to establish a rapport and to be comfortable with each other. They were fantastic. Jathis was a god-send, he was so natural.” says the director.
Bosco, meanwhile, was Khoo’s “Rock of Gibraltar”. “Many of the stunts he performed in the movie are real. Bosco wouldn’t have it any other way. We had to shoot most of them in one take, because I couldn’t afford to have him too hurt and injured.” Although a 12-day shoot was planned, My Magic was shot in just nine days. “The cast and crew were just so good. They ran with me.” From the outset, he wanted My Magic to be a “small, sensitive project” “I didn’t want to go big and be extravagant with the execution. I wanted it to be intimate, personal and subtle.”
Shooting it, however, was not without its challenges. A major one was language. The movie is shot mostly in Tamil, a language alien to him and Kim Hoh who wrote the script in English. “Since both Bosco and Jathis are Indian, I wanted them to speak in their mother tongue because it is more authentic,” says the director whose previous movies were mostly shot in a mixture of English and Chinese dialects. Fortunately he has a “saving grace,” supporting actress Grace Kalaiselvi, who became the film’s resident translator. The hardest part of the shoot, however, was the ending. “I wanted My Magic to be layered, and to spring surprises. The ending is the most important. It is what will take the film to another level so we spent a lot of time conceptualizing it, and getting it right.”
He adds: “Many of us are judgmental. If there is one lesson I hope viewers will take with them after watching this movie, it is that things and people are sometimes not what they seem.’ -taken from zhaowei.com
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Distributor: Part of the box set Eric Khoo Collection -http://www.moviexclusive.com/Details.php?ProductID=115&c=21