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The first thing that strikes you about the director and cast of the movie Pleasure Factory is how unabashed they are when it comes to the film’s intimate and seductive themes of prostitution and pleasure seeking. In fact, they seem to be more than delighted to talk about it.

Led by director Ekachai Uekrongtham, the cast and crew were in town recently to promote the film, which was an official selection for the Un Certain Regard programme at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. The Singapore-Thai picture tells three intertwining tales of pleasure seekers and pleasure providers during the course of one night in Geylang, Singapore’s renowned red light district.

“I don’t think Geylang is a dark place at all,” says Uekrongtham during the press conference held at Mandarin Oriental Hotel. “In fact, I find the illumination beautiful. The tourism board does not tell you to visit places like that, but I think these are the kind of places you should check out.”

Later, during an interview with Moviexclusive.com, the pleasant filmmaker tells us how he hopes that this “small project” of his would provide a “unique voice” to the filmmaking industry.

“I hope it has the power to do something to the audience’s hearts.

“Personally, I hope it has made me a better person and be less prejudiced about certain things,” says the humble Uekrongtham, whose last feature Beautiful Boxer (2003) was about a transgender Muay Thai fighter.

In the film, up-and-coming local filmmaker Loo Zihan plays an army boy who visits Geylang to lose his virginity, and has several bold nude scenes. A third-year undergraduate at Nanyang Technological University’s School of Art, Design and Media, Loo is no stranger to controversial roles like this. Earlier this year, he made a daring feature film Solos with fellow local director Kan Lume, in which he also starred in.

The film was passed with cuts for the Singapore Film Festival, and was eventually withdrawn.

“I didn’t know it would be so controversial. I guess with this movie, I’m more of a victim of circumstances.” Loo chuckles good-naturedly when asked about his choice of roles. “When you understand that an actor is a tool, it does not matter whether the sex scenes are with a man or a woman,” he adds.

The talented young man wishes the media would not concentrate on the seedy aspect of this film. “I hope the viewers will feel for its sentiments, and realize that it’s all about human connectedness.”

Fellow actor Ananda Everingham, who plays a random tourist in Geylang, shares this sentiment.

“I wish audiences will walk into the theatre without any cynicism or any expectation of what is right and what is wrong. As long as they feel a little inspired by any of the characters, as long as they feel the urge to call someone up to talk about anything, the film would have worked,” says the charming actor coolly.

Best known for his lead role in the Thai horror movie Shutter (2004), the articulate actor reveals to us how he finds acting very difficult.

“I’ve always have had a hard time with acting. It’s very tough to get into character, and it’s so exhausting and tiring at the end of the day. I find it so torturous.”

The well-spoken actor then goes on to tell us about his character in this movie, who has only three lines: “That is why this film has been a breeze for me. I’m like the audience’s eyes, and I need not to be too vocal.

“It’s such a pleasure; it’s almost like taking a vacation.”

Pleasure Factory opens 25 October and is reviewed here


Report: John Li | Photos: Lokman BS
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