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John Lui
Saturday, Sep 6, 2014

Showbiz

Eric Khoo's erotic film pushes limits

The New Paper | John Lui | Saturday, Sep 6, 2014

Hong Kong-based film veteran Shi Nansun (right) with Mr Jeffrey Chan, chief executive of film distributor Distribution Workshop), who is executive producer for the drama antholgy, In The Room.

Next year will see the release of a movie that will test the limits of the Government's stand on sex and nudity in a local film.

In The Room, a drama anthology directed by celebrated Singapore film-maker Eric Khoo, will explore themes of love and sensuality, say its makers.

Photography starts this week at the soundstages of Infinite Studios at Mediapolis.

Co-writer Jonathan Lim, who also runs the popular comedy sketch show Chestnuts, says that "all the stories are to do with lust and obsession and desire in one way or another".

But not all the stories are explicit, he says. Some characters deal with their passion in a "hidden and repressed way", he adds.

The title of the film comes from how all its stories play out in the same room in a hotel, the fictional Singapura Hotel, over the decades, starting from the 1940s.

Lim and Singapore-based screenwriter and advertising executive Andrew Hook turned out the screenplay based on story ideas worked out with Khoo.

The project's executive producer is regional film veteran Shi Nansun, who worked on classics such as the Tsui Hark-helmed drama Shanghai Blues (1984), the Aces Go Places series (1982-1986) and the cop drama Infernal Affairs (2002).

This is Hong Kong-based Shi's first Singapore- based project.

She says that she had admired Khoo's films. They got to know each other on the festival circuit and over the years, had talked about working on a film together.

She tells Life!: "I have always wanted to work on an erotic film. I thought Eric had that sensibility to make a film like that."

She says In The Room should reside in the same aesthetic zone as erotic dramas such as Jean-Jacques Annaud's The Lover (1992) or Adrian Lyne's 9½ Weeks (1986).

The film will work with a budget of about $1 million, part of which the team hopes will come from the Media Development Authority's production assistance grant, which sees producers getting back 40 per cent for every dollar spent in Singapore.

She is confident of receiving the grant, adding that Singapore these days is far more accepting of serious, boundary-pushing works compared with 30 years ago, when she first visited.

Mr Jeffrey Chan, chief executive of film distributor Distribution Workshop (which he co-founded with Ms Shi), is an investor in the project and thinks that it remains to be seen how the film will be edited for release in countries with stricter censorship, such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

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