7 Oct – Built around the concept of Malaysian styled karaoke videos with plenty of booze, Malaysian film "Karaoke" by first-time filmmaker Chris Chong Chan Fui successfully nabbed the first Maverick award last Saturday at the 10th annual Calgary International Film Festival in Canada.
Debuting at the festival this year, the Mavericks Series offers ten progressive international feature films by ten emerging directors the opportunity to compete for a crystal trophy and cash prize of C$25,000 - the largest prize of its kind from a Canadian Film Festival.
Writer and Critic Geoff Pevere, Head Juror of the Mavericks Series, spoke of the attributes this award celebrates, prior to naming the winning director and film:
"Freshness of vision and creation of its cinematic language, for vitality of its expression and the reward it offers to viewers who rise to its challenges; embodying the spirit of fearless originality and trailblazing optimism, it defines the essence of the Maverick spirit. The inaugural 2009 Mavericks Award goes to Chris Chong Chan Fui for Karaoke."
Chong shared his joy with Cinema Online and said, "It was truly an honest surprise. There were already a lot of award winning films in the competition from Berlin and Rotterdam, so I was quite sure that a new film like mine wouldn't get awarded. Really a surprise." When asked what he plans on doing with the prize money, he said, "I will buy a karaoke machine for my mom!"
The 75-minute film is set in a karaoke bar within a Malaysian palm oil plantation and follows the story of a young man's homecoming played by Zahiril Adzim. Spoken entirely in the Malay language, the movie will reach Malaysian shores at selected GSC International Screens on 26 November 2009, while in Singapore on 24 December 2009.
Click HERE to read a full interview with Chris Chong on "Karaoke".