Singapore pic skedded for Thailand, France

SINGAPORE — Warner Bros. Singapore has picked up its first local movie for distribution — Eric Khoo’s return as helmer, “Be With Me.”

The Zhao Wei Films production, this year’s well-received opening film of the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, opened in Singapore last week with five prints.

MK2 will release the pic in France in October; Bavaria Film Intl. holds the international rights. Thailand is the only other Asian deal so far, according to Khoo.

“We are happy with this great opportunity to work with Eric, who is highly regarded as an acclaimed director on both the local and international scenes,” said Ng Peng Hui, general manager of Warner Bros. Pictures Singapore.

“Be With Me” is Khoo’s first directorial outing since 1997’s “12 Storeys.”

“If I was going to come back, it had to be something pretty special,” Khoo said just before flying out to the Telluride Film Festival. “I’m a big believer in fate, and after meeting Theresa Chan at a wedding dinner in 2003, I said I would make a film if she would agree to star in it.”

The 61-year-old Chan, deaf and blind since the age of 14, is both the inspiration for and a star of “Be With Me” — a tapestry of three stories woven around the themes of love, hope and destiny. Film also stars Ezann Lee, Seet Keng Yew, Chiew Sung Ching and newcomer Samantha Tan.

During his seven-year helming hiatus, Khoo’s Zhao Wei Films has produced “Liang Po Po — The Movie” (1999), “One Leg Kicking” (2001) — and 2003’s “15” from Singapore’s exciting rising talent helmer Royston Tan.

The Cannes Directors’ Fortnight screening whetted appetites not only critically but literally, according to script’s co-writer Wong Kim Hoh. “People were coming up saying that the film made them so hungry,” he laughs, “because Eric’s (Khoo) is such a foodie, it features quite significantly in the movie.”

Food is an appropriate motif for Singapore, a country priding itself on its preoccupation with food — and the sharing of it. Lonely security guard, played by Seet Keng Yew, compensates his unrequited love for gorgeous female executive Lynn Poh, by eating.

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