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Singapore’s Cathay Returns to Production With ‘Sister Mambo’

HONG KONG – Cathay, one of the great old names of Chinese-language film-making is to return to production for the first time in 15 years.

As a one-off venture to celebrate its 80th year of operation, the Singapore-based Cathay Organisation will produce romantic comedy “Our Sister Mambo,” a tribute to the iconic Cathay and Motion Picture & General Investment movies of the late 1950s and early 1960s.

“Our Sister Mambo” will be directed by Ho Wi Ding (“Pinoy Sunday”,) from a screenplay by Michael Chiang. Cathay Organisation’s executive director Choo Meileen will produce, with Lim Suat Yen and Lee Soon Gee set as co-producers.

The film will star Singaporean favorites Moses Lim and Michelle Chong as a father-daughter pair. Well-known stage Singapore actress and comedienne Siti Khalijah Zainal, and jazz vocalist Rani Singam will also make their feature film debuts. Other cast include Muhammad Mahfuz Mazlan, Nelson Chia and Shankara Ebi, and actresses Audrey Luo and Judee Tan.

The story leans heavily on 1957 Cathay picture “Our Sister Hedy” (pictured) about a middle-class family with four unmarried daughters, and borrows elements from ethnic drama 1961 “The Greatest Civil War on Earth.” Chiang’s screenplay revolves around the Wong household where the father acts as the glue that holds everyone together while Mambo, the protagonist and third daughter, tries to get her other sisters hitched.

Production begins in August this year. Delivery is set for July 2015 and Singapore distribution will be handled by Cathay-Keris Films. The picture will be presented in English with elements of Mandarin, Cantonese, Malay and Tamil. Cinematographer is Ho Yoke Weng.

After its production heyday some 50 years ago, Cathay these days is predominantly involved in exhibition, distribution and property development. Its Cathay Asia Films unit has produced six film including Army Daze: The Movie (1996), the first locally-made English-language film to gross more than $1 million at the Singapore box office, and That One No Enough, the feature debut of Singapore’s most successful director Jack Neo.

“As a gesture of goodwill to the Singapore society who have grown up with Cathay over the years, we will donate all profits made from the film, after recoupment of production costs, to charities adopted by Cathay Organisation,” said Choo. Budget is $1.33 million (S$1.7 million.)

The film is a Cathay Asia Films production in association with Oak3 Films, a Singapore-based production fund.

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