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If you visit the cinema frequently enough, you should be familiar with the phrase “Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental”, which appears at the end of the movie.

We are telling you this: do not always believe that disclaimer. At least, the statement is probably not true for Malaysian director Bernard Chauly’s second feature film Goodbye Boys.

At a recent press screening for the movie, not only did members of the press enjoy the sentimental 88-minute picture, Chauly’s friends were heard guffawing at many scenes in the movie – a sign that they were probably laughing at someone they knew.

The story follows eight young Ipoh scouts on a 5-day 100-km expedition, where maturity, trust and friendships are tested. The one thing unifying them is the process of growing from boys to men.

“It’s a semi-autobiography,” is the only thing Chauly would tell us during a post-screening party held at The Picturehouse Lounge. It wasn’t too difficult matching his friends who were also present to the characters portrayed in the movie.

“I’m happy to have the opportunity to make this film, and while it may be personal to me, I hope it is a universal story as well,” adds the eloquent 33-year-old.

While Chauly’s debut film Gol and Gincu (Goalposts and Lipsticks) in 2005 was set against an urban backdrop in Kuala Lumpur and dripping with girl-power, he wanted to write something about boys in a rural setting. Over a glass of wine with his producer, it was decided that he shall write something, and she shall go source for funding for his second work.

Chauly recalls the production period and says it like a typical blockbuster tagline: “Five days of shoot. 66 locations. 150 scenes.

“And the whole process also includes four months of scripting, three months of pre-production and six months of post-production.”

The cast is chosen from a hopeful 200 who turned up for auditions. And all of them were first-time actors.

“It was a guided process,” reveals Chauly when asked how he dealt with these young actors. The boys were taught how to act according to the roles given to them, so that they could produce the performance which was required.

“You can say it’s manipulated, I just hope it wasn’t traumatic for them,” Chauly laughs heartily.

As if things are not difficult enough for this film’s completion, the multi-talented Chauly still finds time to direct television commercials, lecture and curate. And amidst all these, he still manages to make a film that is “true to life”.

Summing up what he hopes viewers will take home after watching the movie, he says: “It is all about coming to terms with who you are. There may be no answers at the end of the day, but there are always new beginnings which you can look forward to.”

Yes, that statement comes through at its personal best, and you can sense that it is definitely not scripted or coincidental.

Click here for our review of Goodbye Boys

Report by: Joh Li | Photos by Stefan Shih
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