'Stories' heralds new Singapore-Oz era

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SINGAPORE -- Singapore's MediaCorp. Raintree Pictures is talking to Australian filmmaker Tony Ayres about new feature projects in the wake of its first Singapore-Australia co-production, "The Home Song Stories," company CEO Daniel Yun said Tuesday.

The film's premieres in Singapore on Wednesday and Australia on Thursday herald the signing of the final portion of the Australia-Singapore Film Co-production Agreement, scheduled for September during the APEC Ministers Meeting in Sydney.

Ayres, in Singapore to unveil the film based on the story of his Shanghai nightclub singer-mother, said he hopes the film "opens up a new avenue for Singapore moviemaking."

He added that the Joan Chen starrer was "the biggest and most emotional and certainly the most personal and ... risky thing I've ever done."

One possible future Singapore-Australia collaboration could be Ayres' latest project,"The Actresses," about six actresses vying for one role, Yun said at a press conference.

Yun said that MediaCorp. Raintree will break new ground with the domestic marketing of the AUS$5million ($4 million) "Stories," by working with museums and galleries to build awareness and word of mouth.

"We don't want the fate of our movies to be decided in one weekend," Yun said. "The whole cinema phenomenon in Singapore right now is unhealthy. Hollywood blockbusters come and take up all the screens and the next week they're gone, replaced by the next Hollywood blockbuster."

The Australian High Commission in Singapore hailed "Stories" as heralding a "new era in film partnerships."

The film is presented by Australia's Film Finance Corp., with the involvement of Film Victoria, SBS Independent and Fortissimo Films in addition to MediaCorp. Raintree.

The film won the FIPRESCI international jury award at the Brisbane International Film Festival earlier this month and has been nominated for the Victorian Premiers Literary Award. It will screen at both the Toronto and Edinburgh International Film Festivals.

Pip Bulbeck in Sydney contributed to this report.
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