Wednesday, August 10, 2011

[DVD] Hosaywood (2011)

Fans of local short films rejoice, as Jacen Tan of Hosaywood has finally gotten his collection of shorts compiled into a DVD by Objectifs, and released into the market already. Each short comes with a one page director notes about the respective films, and has a lot of his "Firsts" as well, such as his very First short film, his First sequel to an earlier work, and of course the highly anticipated First documentary attempt in his capture of the spirit of the Kallang Roar. Probably one of the earliest local filmmakers who had his short film go viral like an epidemic on the Internet before the YouTube days, one can only expect more from the indie filmmaker, whose music video RUDRA - Hymns from the Blazing Chariot was not included, but can be found online courtesy of the filmmaker's website at

Here's a review of the various shorts and segments contained in the DVD release:

Tak Giu (Kick Ball) (14:54)
The first short film by Jacen Tan, this was made under "Hosay Studio", about a trio of football mad friends who have to search for an open field to hone their skills for an upcoming challenge one of them made to a rival. But this search prove to be futile given the many red tape they encounter, and chronicles their dogged determination in looking for a playable field, before having to contend with a pursuing policeman. While on the surface it may seem like a simple story, this short film had plenty of barb in its veiled criticism of the way things are run in country, and I'd like to think it could probably be credited for some loosening up of guidelines with regards to playing fields.

It's a nostalgic moment to relive this short film again after more than 6 years since it went viral on every conceivable download site before YouTube and BitTorrent were the Internet norm, and is testament to its mature narrative that is easily identifiable with by the masses, and entertainment value.

Tak Giu comes with a one page Director Notes and Bloopers and Outtakes (6:20) that demonstrated just how the cast and crew of four had to juggle their scenes in front of, and behind the camera.

Zo Peng (Go Army) (14:48)
A little more serious in nature minus the comedy that we know Jacen Tan is capable of, Zo Peng is a hypothetical scenario that reverses the gender of conscription, with the females being sent for National Service. This short chronicles the various issues and challenges with National Service, but delivered by an all female cast instead so the uniqueness is with the cast sounding convincing in their verbal handling of the various army lingo, in order to sound authentic. Those of us male servicemen at one point in time or another will find a number of comparisons that can be made, especially that with the newer generation whom every predecessor batch will find having it too easy.

Zo Peng comes with a one page Director Notes, Bloopers (1:28), 28 Behind the Scenes Photos and a one page Army Lingo Guide serving as a glossary to the terminology used in the film.

Zo Gang (Go Work) (8:55)
Taken from an earlier review.

From the writer-director who brought us the Internet cult hit Tak Giu, and Zo Peng, comes his latest short film Zo Gang, translated to mean "Go Work", which unlike most of the films in today's lineup, is a light-hearted comedy which will strike a chord in every aspiring creative person in the local movie or music industry. You can count on Jacen's brand on local humour to bring that smile to your face, and its breezy pace, coupled with nuggets of funny jabs, make this a definite crowd pleaser.

Zo Gang comes with a one page Director Notes, Bloopers and Outtakes (5:50) that show the hard work poured in to capture that perfect comic timing, 36 Behind the Scenes Photos and a Rehearsal Clip (1:05) showing Wesley Wong's outdoor night time practice of his monologue.

Zo Hee (Make Movie) (13:27)
Taken from an earlier review.

If you thought that Merlion Tan was a complainer in Jacen Tan's previous short Zo Gang, we start at where the previous short left off, and he now redeems himself by actually setting out to make his own film, and does so of course with plenty of Hosaywood brand of humour. Commissioned by The Substation as part of its Moving Images 10th Anniversary celebrations to capture the essence of indie filmmaking here in Singapore, while Zo Gang had included some hilarious generalizations about local film audiences toward home grown movies, and featured some cameo appearances by local musicians, look out for the filmmakers that Jacen had given a go in the sequel, Zo Hee (Make Movie), and the creation of a new character - I'd say there will be someone emerging from the screening who will utter those words/lines made famous in the short!

Though relatively longer in duration, there were some scenes which somehow tangent slightly from the main narrative, but this is forgiven given the necessary Substation moments that the short seeks to pay a little homage to, and for some of the Moving Images programme (like First Cut) to be "advertised" rather quickly. For those who are not familiar with the programme, Zo Hee will serve to quickly bring them up to speed. And nothing really beats watching this short at the Guiness Theatre as things go full circle, making it a great companion piece to Zo Gang.

Zo Hee comes with a one page Director Notes, Bloopers and Outtakes (3:12) and 35 stills contained in the Behind the Scenes Photos section.

Kwa Giu (Watch Football) (28:07)
The highlight of the DVD since this short has never (as far as I know) been screened before anywhere else, until now, partly because of the reluctance of the National Stadium to be torn down until recently, being the venue of choice for other sporting events that postponed its eventual closure. Armed with three roving cameras, Jacen Tan and crew went around capturing the sights and sounds of what could have been the final game played between the football teams of Singapore and Thailand as finalists of the 2007 ASEAN Football Championship Final at the National Stadium.

From the pre-kick off happenings outside the stadiums with the selling of fan made merchandise and finger foods, to the vocal support of the Singapore Lions when the game is underway, with half time loo interludes and body refueling from the snack bar, right down to lights off, Jacen and Team captured them all, preserving what would be precious memories of how a single location became the melting pot for Singaporeans from all walks of life, there for the sole mission to support our football team (and having a field day while at it), complete with cheers, jeers, and rocking drum beats. It's as much a tribute to the National Stadium, as it is to the Singapore Football (Diehard) Fan.

A credible first attempt at a documentary, Kwa Giu is Jacen going full circle, bookending this DVD collection with a film about football, and an important one at that with its capture of what would seem a typical football outing at Kallang, letting the moving images weave the magic and spirit of local football support. Perhaps this magic will be back soon with the cross-Causeway participation in each other's football, bringing back the rivalry so sorely missed since the S-League's inception. Perhaps then the new Sports Hub with a stadium shaped much like a toilet bowl, can capture what has been missing from Kallang all these years.

Kwa Giu comes with a one page Director Notes, 28 Behind the Scenes Photos that documents the National Stadium as well as some shots of its demolition recently, and Outtakes (2:28) that contain footage from an earlier match (Singapore vs Malaysia, ASEAN Football Championship Semi-Finals) since that had potential to actually be the final match played at Kallang. You'd come to identify the same few die hard fans, as well as to see how to evade the Kallang Roar (never knew that)!

And if the extras contained within each short film are not enough, there's also the Very Extra Special Features section that features:

Jacen Tan Interviews Himself (8:52) which has the writer-director share his experiences from working across all his feature films that provides you that bit of insight into his creative process, an animated short clip called Balls! (0:25) and Hosay All Over the World (1:08) with this taken from an earlier review:

While it's not an open secret that Jacen's shorts have been making waves overseas and being programmed in festivals, there was like a 2-3 minute clip of a compilation of jubilant folks from around the world, whom I thought had enjoyed the director's works, and celebrated by exclaiming on camera "Ho-Say, Lah!". Hosaywood is more than best in Singapore, JB and Batam, and have fans now hailing from almost every continent in the world. If that is not Ho-Say enough, then I don't know what is! Someone fund him to make feature film, can?

Hosaywood DVD is now available at Objectifs (56A Arab Street, Singapore 199753) for $16.50. Hosay lah!

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