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“Gone Shopping” marks the first-full length directorial debut of female director Wee Li Lin and also the first local movie to hold a press conference in a shopping mall. As the title implies, the movie is a satirical drama that explores the art of shopping. I guess there isn’t a better way to make a movie with one of Singaporeans’ favourite pastime as the main theme.

It’s weird to pair up veteran actor Chen Shu cheng with the pint-size Kym Ng. Even Chen himself admits so. In “Gone Shopping”, he plays a rich businessman who has little time for his “tai-tai” wife (Kym) who ended up seeking solace in shopping and gasps the company of our favourite funnyman Adrian Pang who spots a prosthetic moustache a la George Lam.

Produced over a period of three painstaking years, “Gone Shopping” also boasts a young talented Sonya Nair who outshone over 70 girls in the audition and got the role of Renu Balakrishnan.

To pry more details for “Gone Shopping”, our Columnist John Li manages to hook up an “up-close and personal” session with the talented Li Lin and here goes…

As a true blue Singaporean, it only seems right that you love shopping. But that may just change after you watch director Wee Li Lin’s debut feature film Gone Shopping.

“I used to really love shopping, but after making this movie, that love has strangely diminished,” Wee laughs during a lunch interview with movieXclusive.com.

While enjoying her sundae at a café in Holland Village, the pleasant filmmaker tells us how she was enlightened with the pitfalls of shopping centers after the production of the movie. The strange connection to shopping space and eccentric psyches of the film’s characters are just some of the things that Wee explores in her latest work.

The satirical look at how shopping malls have impacted our urbanized lives can also be seen as her “graduation work”.

The 33-year-old says: “I was 23 years old when I made my first short film Norman On The Air 10 years ago. With Gone Shopping, it’s like I have gone on from secondary school to junior college!”

The inspiration of the movie came from how Wee adores shopping, and her fascination of the infrastructure of shopping centers in Singapore. The centrality of these malls has made her decide to set her two upcoming features in shopping centers as well.

Wee is not a stranger to the local filmmaking industry. Her filmography includes short films like Another Guy (1998) and the award-winning Autograph Book (2003). And with Gone Shopping, she joins other talented local directors like Tan Pin Pin (Invisible City) and Royston Tan (881) whose works will be gracing Singapore’s cinema screens.

While Wee finds the local movie industry is getting increasingly exciting with productions from both studios and independent filmmakers, she does think that it is worrisome that there is a trend of support for movies which are made to sell overseas.

Still, the hopeful director says with zest about this occurrence: “Passion cannot be stopped.”

The enthusiasm of this passionate filmmaker can be seen when asked about the difficulties met while making her first feature movie. Like all film productions go, the experience has not been an all smooth-sailing and easy one.

“There were tough times,” Wee says reflectively. “It’s all about dealing with different personalities, pressures, expectations and challenging difficulties.

“But at the end, new friends are made, and I get to know people better.”

Upon the completion of the film, she feels that what is left is how audiences decide and respond to the movie - so what would the ex-shopping-lover like viewers to take home with this movie?

“I hope people can find themselves having a conversation with shopping center spaces, and leave the cinema still thinking about the film.”

We just hope that you won’t be gone shopping without reflecting and supporting this latest local movie to hit our shores soon.

Gone Shopping opens in cinemas 26 July 2007

A charity premiere with the cast and crew’s attendance will be held on 24 July 2007 at Golden Village VivoCity (7pm). Tickets at $50 can be bought here.

Check out the charity online auction where you can bid for dresses and accessories worn by the movie’s cast.

All proceeds to The Substation's Moving Images film programme, supporting independent and short film in Singapore since 1997.

Report: John Li | Photos: Richard Lim Jr
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