SELL OUT! Malaysia's First English Language Musical Comedy (Spelled With An Exclamation Mark)

Here's an exclusive first look at the official trailer for Malaysian musical comedy, Sell Out!.

I'll admit, I haven't seen this film, but from the trailer, the crazy synopsis and the reaction it's been getting, AND the fact that it's a MUSICAL COMEDY (with an exclamation mark), it would seem that Sell Out! (or $e11.0u7!) is like air freshener for the film scene here.

Make no mistake, I do love some of the good independent arthouse films in this country. But lately, it seems like Malaysian independent films are starting to fall into self-parody with their long takes, static cameras, morose characters, etc. Frankly, they're starting to get repetitive and boring. So you see, I'm not going to complain about a commercial comedy (with an exclamation mark) where characters suddenly break into song. In fact, I'm pretty excited about this.

Check out the trailer and synopsis, and more about the film, after the break.

Here's Sell Out!'s synopsis:

Her name is Rafflesia Pong (Rafflesia=largest flower in the world, which reeks of animal carcass; Pong=stink). She's a bottom-ranking arts show host who's disillusioned with "those over-rated underachievers we call artists." He's Eric Tan (Eric=Eric, Tan=typical Chinese surname), a product designer who's just about to learn that it doesn't pay to be creative. They both work for FONY, a multinational conglomerate whose mission statement, copied from a Taiwanese company, is to be original.

In the face of such pressure, will Eric and Rafflesia retain their artistic integrityor will they finally sell out to fame, fortune or some other nasty thing that also starts with "F"?

Sell Out! is essentially about the neverending battle between art and commerce. There's some bits that take the mickey out of "art films" (but it's all in good fun, of course), especially the scenes during Rafflesia's arts programme on TV. When her arts show isn't bringing in the ratings, she chances upon a novel idea for a reality show, one where she films people in the throes of death. But then she also finds it hard to get dying people for her new show. Somewhere across town, Eric builds an all-in-one miracle soybean machine, but all his bosses are interested in is how much money they can get out of the contraption. And somewhere along the way, things take a surreal turn, and Eric has some kind of an out-of-body experience.

I think anyone who's ever stepped out into the big, bad world would identify with the issue of creativity versus commercialism, especially so in filmmaking. Should we sell out and get rich? Or would we want to be piss-poor but with our integrity intact? But most of all, Sell Out! makes fun of everything Malaysian, from pretentious artsy films and our obsession with Eurasians to corporations with unoriginal names and Manglish (Malaysian English, or mangled English).

Sell Out! is written and directed by up-and-coming filmmaker Yeo Joon Han, who has previously won accolades for his short films, Adults Only and GIrl In A Soap Bubble. Adults Only got a Special Mention in Venice, and Sell Out! won the Alternative Vision award in the Critics Week section in Venice and critics at the festival also awarded it Best Film. It also recently took the Netpac award at the Taipei Golden Horse Festival. It's still travelling the festival circuit, and next month, it will be screening in competition at the Singapore International Film Festival (April 21, get your tickets now!).

Singapore International Film Festival Director, Zhang Wenjie, calls Sell Out! an "amazing Malaysian film ... unlike any Malaysian film you've ever seen."

Indeed, it's the first English language musical comedy (with an exclamation mark) to come out of Malaysia. But if you tell Yeo his film is a musical, he'll tell you that it's not. "It has only four songs!" Yeah, right. Believe it or not, apart from writing, directing and producing, he also wrote all the songs himself (he's a big fan of musicals and Woody Allen).

Sell Out! has been getting good reviews and even better word-of-mouth. It was originally scheduled for general release in Malaysia this month, but looks like that won't happen, and the release is getting pushed to a later time.

Cast and crew: Director of Photography: Eric Yeong Sound: Ram @ Sean Chia (Tune Army) Production Designer: Jimmy Bong Location Manager: Adam Chong Hair & Make-up: Monica Lee Assistant Director: Kareem Koh Production Manager: Jackie Urban Poh Script Supervisor: James Wong Music: Joon Han, Bruno Brugnano, Jamorn Vathakanon Sound Mix: Boom Suvagondha Film Post-Production: The Post Bangkok Cast: Jerrica Lai, Peter Davis, Kee Thuan Chye, Lim Teik Leong, Wong Wai Hoong, Lee Szu Hung, Hannah Lo

Check out the official trailer:


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