AFTER bagging renowned sales agents Reel Suspects and XYZ Films to represent it across international and North American territories respectively, upcoming noir-thriller Interchange is quickly building hype ahead of its release.
“For now, the latest news is the fact we got picked up by Reel Suspects,” happily states producer Nandita Solomon during a meeting at Apparat.
“They watched Interchange and decided that the film fits with their brand and what they carry. They liked it, and immediately wanted to screen the film.”
Starring Iedil Putra, Shaheizy Sam, Nicholas Saputra and Prisia Nasution, the film follows forensic photographer Adam and his best friend Detective Man as they navigate through a series of macabre ritual murders. Along the way, Adam falls for mysterious presence Iva and stumbles into a world of mysticism and strange happenings.
It’s Dain Iskandar Said‘s second full-length feature to hit cinemas. And given the critical response of Bunohan, many are pinning their hopes on the film especially after the one-minute teaser put online earlier in the month.
“The film will be released this year and we also have wajib tayang meetings coming up; we’ll go from there,” continues Nandita.
There are no dates being thrown around just yet, though the team already has a Malaysian distributor in Golden Screen Cinemas. But how about elsewhere in the region, for example Brunei, Singapore and Indonesia?
“It’s too early to say at this point, but we’re working on it. It’s tricky because there are always issues like piracy and timing to take into consideration. But we’ve definitely got our fingers crossed and hope to release the film not just in Malaysia.”
Recounting her previous experience in bringing Bunohan overseas, Nandita was once in Singapore to meet with a distributor. However, they ended up finding a pirated copy of the film in stores.
“That was the end of that conversation. But I think there’s greater awareness right now about how we can open up our markets a bit more.”
Dain Said aficionados hoping to catch the film at Cannes two days ago however wouldn’t have had much luck. The private screening held at the Marche du film — separate from the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS)‘s Malaysia Goes To Cannes program — was strictly based on invitation, and invites were scarce.
Because aside from creators, investors, FINAS and the Film Censorship Board (LPF), nobody has actually seen the entire film. Asked if one could’ve just waltzed into the exclusive market screening with a black Marche du film badge, Nandita is amused; it’s not that simple a process.
“I have friends around Cannes who wanted to see the film as well,” she divulges, “but I’ve had to tell them no because the seats were reserved for critics and buyers.”
Dain, also present at the meeting, adds, “It’s important to do it this way because obviously, we want the film to be marketed well and sold — it’s a part of the business that can’t be denied.”
Both he and Nandita however wanted to make one thing clear with regards to the Cannes brand. Recalling several incidents over the years, the couple hoped that the industry and media will be more honest when it comes to using the festival’s prestige to market films.
“People say our films are being screened at Cannes but the reality is that it’s being screened at Le Marche,” Nandita begins. “So at Le Marche this year there is the FINAS program, while ours is being screened by the sales agent.”
Dain interjects, “I don’t mean to be small-minded but people need to know. When you say that your film is being screened there when it’s not, it takes away from the effort that people have put into these films to get into Cannes.”
“There’s Cannes, as in the selection, in which the festival selects the films. There’s also Cannes if you bring it there, like FINAS’s screenings. And both aren’t the same. Everyone is allowed to go there to sell their films and set up a booth, and that’s nothing to do with the Cannes Film Festival’s selection.”
“You’ve gotta get it right,” he stated sternly.
Commending Wan Hanafi Su‘s appearance in The Apprentice and deeming it the exciting Malaysian news from the festival this year, Nandita is nevertheless proud of their slot in the market.
“Still it must be said that getting a screening in Le Marche is quite special, as we know there are thousands of films released every year. What FINAS is doing is definitely a great effort, even if we’ve chosen a different route.”
Dain insists that the market screening was important for Interchange to reach the right audience and hopefully even alter tastes, whether on home ground or elsewhere.
“We want to sort of change the palate,” he opines. “It’s like… if people eat McDonald’s for three decades then that’s all they’re going to know. That’s what I call the McDonalization of culture, so it’s important for us to add some diversity.”
In the meantime, Interchange has been submitted to several film festivals and the entire team is waiting for responses.
The film, spanning 102 minutes in length, also has Nadiya Nisaa, Chew Kin Wah and Alvin Wong in the cast. It will be scored by acclaimed composer Luka Kuncevic, whose portfolio includes Liew Seng Tat‘s Lelaki Harapan Dunia.
We’ll be back with more from Dain and Nandita soon. Make sure to keep yourself updated via the film’s Facebook page!