It’s the day before New Year’s Eve. 2010 is coming to an end. It has been a challenging and rewarding year. If 2010 was a personal movie, what were my best moments this year?
March – July. Setting up and securing funding for Homerun Asia must be the highlight of this year. It was a year I needed to count on faith, faith in myself and faith in life. Finding the choice office space was almost a miracle in itself. The official opening of our office was also the press launch of our first movie, ‘Homecoming’. The day before, I felt the office was ready. It made a statement but was functional for the Homerun team to get down to work. The next time more guests came was our first Christmas lunch.
October – December. Doing up the office led to the re-decoration of my house. It was a therapeutic preoccupation. To top it, the house was suddenly featured in the Business Times on Christmas day! I usually open my presents on the morning of Christmas day. That morning, I opened the Business Times and there it was. A double spread of my house. So this was how it looked on print. There was a surreal moment when I look up and felt I was living in a picture!
June. On the 9th of June, my mother celebrated her 85th birthday! I see her birthdays as a celebration of her life. This year she is in better health and this is another reason to celebrate. Siti delayed her trip back home to be with her! My mother was her usual self but when she blew the candles, I registered the moment – most of the family together, celebrating with her. Cameras flashed and we captured this moment well.
June. Before Siti left for her home in Indonesia, she was stressed by some marriage problems. Would she be another statistic for those who left home to work in a foreign land only to go back to a broken marriage? Within days of reaching her hometown, she called. From her voice, I knew it was good news. Siti has matured from the 20-year-old I first met to someone who could face up to very difficult domestic squabbles and handle them with objectivity and firmness. Her voice was cracking with excitement and joy! I could feel the joy from this end of the line!
September. On the 18th of September, my mother sat on a wheelchair and I pushed her through the gates of the Botanic Gardens. We took sometime to decide if we should get her a wheelchair. Today she is still uncomfortable on certain occasions. The feeling of emancipation when we wheeled into the Botanic Gardens was proof we made the right decision. She is ‘mobile’ and can move around in shopping centres, restaurants and parks. I had the distinct feeling she was on a rollercoaster ride when she was wheeled up and down the slopes in the Botanic Gardens.
July. The first title Homerun Asia released was ‘Aftershock’, Feng Xiaogang’s epic drama on the Tangshan earthquake in 1976. We watched a screening to decide if we should distribute it. After the first 10 minutes, I knew it was not your usual disaster film. By mid way, I knew we would distribute it. When it ended, I wiped away some tears and told myself – get ready to market the socks out of this film, on a budget! I took it upon myself to get as many Singaporeans as it was possible to watch ‘Aftershock’. My estimate was a local box office of S$800,000. Some thought it was not a realistic target. After running for 8 weeks, we hit a little over that target. We hit our first homerun!
October. Within 15 minutes of watching Detective Dee, I felt an excitement for Tsui Hark which I had not felt for over a decade. The Tsui Hark magic had been absent from the Asian film industry long enough. Most of us grew up with his brand of action-drama-humour which defined the golden age of Hong Kong movies! In the last 15 years, we forgave him for one disappointment after another. Yet we never gave up on this father of Chinese Cinema. Watching Detective Dee, there was a feeling the best is yet to be. With movies we can dream. With Tsui Hark, we can dream big!
November. Mrs Lee Kuan Yew passed away on October 2. When I heard the news, I wondered how Lee Kuan Yew would cope with her passing. The media coverage was extensive. We saw another side to the Lee household. A family grieving together. Then on November 19th, I had ‘Tea With Mr Lee’. May Oon’s second art exhibition was a collection of paintings on Lee Kuan Yew. I arranged to view the paintings before the official opening that evening. On the upper level, I eyed a charcoal drawing of a young Lee Kuan Yew smoking. It was precisely the painting I was looking for. All the paintings were sold out at the opening. Whether Lee Kuan Yew was going to be the next Mao in Contemporary Art, I was thrilled to have acquired ‘Smoking’, which now hangs by the stairway in my house.
November. “On or about December 1910, human character changed” – Virginia Woolf, 1924. Woolf saw a fundamental shift in human relations taking place at the beginning of the 20th century. Those changes, she predicted, would bring about transformations in every sphere of life, from religion to politics to human behaviour. A century later, we are living through another transition. The way we connect with one another. There is an erosion of trust in authority, a decentralisation of power, and at the same time, perhaps, a greater faith in one another. Our sense of identity is more variable, while our sense of privacy is expanding. More than anyone else on the world stage, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is at the centre of these changes. He is both a product of his generation and an architect of it. The social networking platform he invented is closing in on 600 million users. In a single day, about a billion new pieces of content are posted on Facebook. Facebook is now the third largest country on earth and surely has more information about its citizens than any government does. Watching the human drama behind the founding of this game-changing ‘Social Network’ was an exhilarating experience. And not without a small familiarity with the setup of Homerun.
I am counting my blessings of 2010. It is a year I stood at the crossroads and plunged into a new world. Keeping the faith, I look to 2011 with both a readiness for change and being an agent of change!