Borgia and filmmaker Yeo Siew Hua teamed on 2018 film “A Land Imagined,” which reaped a rich haul of awards around the world, including top prizes at Locarno, Golden Horse, El Gouna, Pingyao, Singapore and Valladolid. They have now re-teamed on “Stranger Eyes,” which is selected at the ongoing Venice Production Bridge’s gap financing market.
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The film follows master of surveillance Inspector Goh, who, as he keeps a close eye on a suspected credit card thief, is drawn into the suspect’s world and starts to see himself in the skin of the perpetrator. As it sets him to question the true meaning of his work, Goh is tasked to track down a serial voyeur on the loose who has been videotaping people’s most private moments.
“It’s about ways of seeing ways of seeing — each other, how we look at each other and how we perceive ourselves to be seen, as a voyeuristic thriller, as a surveillance thriller,” Yeo told Variety. The filmmaker says that the pandemic changed his approach to surveillance, as suddenly, private data needed to be shared because of social responsibility.
“It’s almost as though it is not moral for you to keep your own privacy. So in that sense, it’s an existential crisis,” Yeo said. “All these ideas of your data, who you are, how you’re connected to everyone else, how you are seen, also in how you’re categorized, the pandemic has definitely changed our ideas on this in a very big way. This is something that I’m reflecting in the film.”
“Stranger Eyes” will go into production in the second quarter of 2023 and casting is underway in Taiwan for lead actors. Borgia produces for Akanga, Jean-Laurent Csinidis for France’s Films de Force Majeure, Stefano Centini for Taiwan-based Volos Films and Dan Koh from Singapore.
Also in development is “The Thonglor Kids,” where the acclaimed Thai filmmaker Aditya Assarat, after shorts and segments in anthology films, returns to a full-length feature format after 2010’s “Hi-so.” The film will follow Beat, a well-respected professor who resigned his position at the university a few years ago over his support for student protesters. Now living quietly in Khao Yai, a small town three hours from Bangkok, his life is turned upside down when his best friend Ong comes to visit and he finds himself drawn back in to the teenage hijinks that unfolds when the two of them are together.
Assarat produces for Thailand’s Pop Pictures, alongside Borgia. The project will next be at the Busan market and is set to go into production in the third quarter of 2023.
Akanga is the sole producer on Singaporean filmmaker Siyou Tan’s “Amoeba,” an exploration of Singapore’s societal and cultural expectations through the lens of a misfit in an all-girls’ school. It is set to go into production by the end of 2023.
Ash Mayfair, whose “The Third Wife” won awards at Toronto, San Sebastian and Fribourg, is back with “Skin of Youth.” The film, set in 1990s Saigon, will follow San, who wants to have enough money for a sex-change operation that will fulfill her dream of living in a woman’s body. San’s lover, Nam, must work as an underground dog-cage fighter to support this dream.
The project is produced by Borgia, Tran Thi Bich Ngoc for An Nam Productions in Vietnam, and Mayfair for the U.S.’s Mayfair Pictures. Production will commence in the third quarter of 2023.
Borgia and Mayfair are also collaborating on “If I Had Two Lives,” based on a true story written by Vietnamese American author Abbigail N. Rosewood. The story follows Yen, who upon agreeing to become a surrogate mother to the child of her lover, begins to re-examine the relationship with her own mother who abandoned her as a child. Production will commence in 2024.
Meanwhile, there are three films in post-production. “Tomorrow is a Long Time” by Jow Zhi Wei is produced by Borgia, Jeremy Chua for Potocol, Singapore, Stefano Centini for Volos Films, Taiwan, Xavier Rocher for La Fabrica Nocturna, France, and Ico Costa for Oublaum Filmes, Portugal. Set in contemporary Singapore, the film follows the relationship between a widower shipyard worker and his sensitive teenage son.
“Tiger Stripes,” by Amanda Nell Eu, is produced by Borgia, Foo Fei Ling for Ghost Grrrl Pictures, Malaysia, Patrick Huang for Flash Forward Entertainment, Taiwan, Juliette Lepoutre for Still Moving, France, Jonas Weydemann for Weydemann Bros, Germany, Ellen Havenith for PRPL, The Netherlands, and Yulia Evina Bhara for KawanKawan Media, Indonesia. In the film, an 11-year-old girl reaches puberty when her body begins to morph at an alarming and horrifying rate. In fear of being labeled as a demon, she struggles to maintain being normal at school.
Chia Chee Sum’s “Oasis of Now” is produced by Borgia, Lee Yve Vonn for Afternoon Pictures, Malaysia, Xavier Rocher for La Fabrica Nocturna, France and the Commonist, Malaysia. The film follows an undocumented Vietnamese woman in Kuala Lumpur, and the relationship with her daughter who lives with adoptive parents.
“I look for personal stories that need to be told for a specific reason,” Borgia, who is from Spain and lives in Singapore, told Variety. “I came to Singapore at a time when there was good talent, but not many good opportunities. I was lucky to meet talented filmmakers who share the same taste for cinema and for what we think cinema should be.”
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