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5 Things You Should Know About Upcoming Local Movie 'The Garden Of Evening Mists'

The film brings together a stellar international cast and crew.


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5 Things You Should Know About Upcoming Local Movie 'The Garden Of Evening Mists'
Image: Astro Shaw
There is an upcoming movie that has recently begun filming in Malaysia and you need to hear about this ambitious project.
 
The Garden of Evening Mists, a film based on Tan Twan Eng’s award-winning novel of the same name, is currently in the middle of production in various locations across the country, including the scenic landscapes of Cameron Highland’s world-famous tea plantations.
 
'The Garden of Evening Mists' is based on a novel written by Malaysian author Tan Twan Eng.
The story revolves around a Malaysian Chinese woman named Yun Ling who was captured by the Japanese and locked up in a labour camp during World War II.
 
After the war, she built a Japanese garden in memory of her sister Yun Hong who had died in the labour camp. And in this garden, was where she met a Japanese gardener who was exiled, Nakamura Aritomo.
 
This local film is actually Astro Shaw’s latest production in partnership with FINAS as well as HBO Asia. So without further ado, let’s dive right into what we know so far about The Garden of Evening Mists.
 

#1 The movie is set in dual timelines

Have you read the book? 
The Garden of Evening Mists goes back and forth between the 1950s and 1980s. Although the central narrative of the film focuses on Yun Ling’s character, her story takes you through flashbacks of her life right after the war. As she continues to be haunted by the guilt of her sister’s passing, her romantic relationship with Aritomo during present day helps to ease this tragic memory of hers.
 
Correct us if we’re wrong, but we hardly see local movies set in a timeline that is decades old, let alone one that portrays a historical setting like the days post-WWII. So we trust that we will see local film productions level up with the making of The Garden of Evening Mists.
 

#2 The movie is directed by an award-winning filmmaker

Tom Lin started his film career in Taiwan in 2002. 
The Garden of Evening Mists is directed by Taiwanese filmmaker Tom Lin Shu-Yu. Growing up in both Taiwan and the United States, he is able to communicate fluently in both Chinese and English. His bilingual ability also translates into his work as all his past films carry a distinctive mix of cultural backgrounds, including Starry Starry Night and Zinnia Flower.
 
His first feature film titled Winds of September was awarded ‘Best Film’ at the Asian New Talent Awards of the 11th Shanghai International Film Festival in 2008. His work in Zinnia Flower also led to a prestigious award for ‘Best Actress’ at the 52nd Golden Horse Film Awards in 2015.
 
Under the golden hands of Tom Lin, The Garden of Evening Mists could be well on its way to similar awards on the international stage.
 

#3 The movie features both local and international cast

Lee Sinje and Hiroshi Abe play the lead roles in the film. 
Since Yun Ling’s character travels between the 1950s and 1980s in the story, the role is played by Malaysian actress Lee Sinje and Taiwanese actress Sylvia Chang in their respective years.
 
As for the role of Aritomo, it is played by prominent Japanese actor Hiroshi Abe. Yes, a true Japanese playing a true Japanese!
 
Besides the main characters we’ve been talking about, there are also several roles which involve more international actors.
 
One of them is British actor David Oakes (as seen in The White Queen and Victoria) who plays the young Frederik Gemmell in the 1950s. This character’s older self will be portrayed by Julian Sands from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Scottish actor John Hannah will play the father figure, Magnus Gemmell. You might recognise him from The Mummy trilogy.
 
This is (L-R) David Oakes, John Hannah and Julian Sands' first time filming in Malaysia.
These actors from the West had to adjust to our hot and humid weather, but it apparently made their jobs easier this time around.

"Yes, it is hot and humid. But it’s supposed to be, so your costume fits the climate. We don’t have to pretend that it’s hot or cold. So it makes our jobs easier, we don’t have to pretend so much," David Oakes said.

We will also be seeing Singaporean actress Tan Kheng Hua making an appearance in the movie. Remember her as Margaret Phua in the Phua Chu Kang series?
 
We miss the sassy Margaret Phua!
Despite working with a blend of international cast and crew, director Tom Lin doesn’t find it difficult to put everyone on the same page.
 
“Professional actors are professional wherever they’re from,” he said. “You don’t really need to do much when you have great actors. You clarify the story and character’s motive, then leave everyone else to them and they will have their own interpretation of the story.”
 

#4 The garden is built from scratch

This picture is for illustration purposes only. 
Unlike other movies where the crew would most likely just build a simple set and use a green screen with computer graphics to portray the rest of the story (you know, to save cost and whatnot), the director decided to build the Japanese garden from scratch because it portrays an integral part of the story.
 
The production crew was able to build the house and garden portrayed in The Garden of Evening Mists at the perfect location, which still remains a secret, but we suspect it is somewhere in Cameron Highlands.
 
“I think it’s great to have the garden there, have the house and actors in a real place that is really livable, and to really see it, feel it and actually do the work in the garden,” Tom Lin said.
 
We can’t wait to see how the garden looks like!
 

#5 The production crew is next level

We hope this movie will win more awards too. 
Not only does The Garden of Evening Mists have a diverse cast, the film crew also consists of a team of acclaimed industry experts.
 
This includes Scottish British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) winning screenwriter Richard Smith, renowned cinematography Kartik Vijay, and production designer Penny Tsai, who had previously worked on See You Tomorrow.
 
Besides that, the movie will also feature the touch of costume designer Nina Edwards, who is known for her work in the Great Gatsby, Wolverine and The Matrix, and hair and makeup by Nikki Gooley, recognised for her BAFTA and Saturn award for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and her Oscar and Saturn nomination for Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith.
 
Told you this movie is on another level, right?
 
Even though this is as far as we know about The Garden of Evening Mists, we can already tell that the lyrical and beautiful story will captivate viewers with the beauty of Malaya after WWII, a time that brought a lot of hurt and pain to our forefathers.
 
Will the movie be able to resonate among Asian audiences and beyond? We’ll just have to wait and see.

The Garden of Evening Mists is slated for a theatrical world premiere in 2019.

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