Q & A: Chris Chong Chan Fui
1. In an online interview, I read that you were originally a student of business and are a self-taught filmmaker. How were you able to make this transition?
CCCF: The transition from business to film was made blindly. In business, decisions are made with historical data so as to graph a direction of what the future holds. I took the opposite, and more naïve approach, and believed that the unknown future ahead would lead me to answers of the past. Moving into manipulating film was out of pure wide-eyed curiosity. A curiosity much like opening a book of fantasy that leads to a more entertaining and unpredictable realm.
2. As a child, what were some experiences in your background that cultivated your artistic pursuits?
CCCF: My childhood was in a fishbowl, as it is now.
3. In Block B, your internationally award winning short-film, the setting is a Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) apartment complex. Please describe the demographics and background of this site.
CCCF: The area, called Brickfields, is a major local transportation hub (mono-rails, trains, and buses), but also an area of red-light prostitution, blind massage parlors, Indian cafés, temples, churches and mosques alike. This is a place where the overriding sounds of the azan (Muslim call to prayer) coming from the mosque compete with the chimes rising from the pooja (Hindu prayers). In effect, this mélange of sounds mimic the disparate voices that comprise the country’s own religious complexities and insecurities. Brickfields is also known as the ‘Indian’ part of town because of the large population of expatriate Indians working in Kuala Lumpur (KL) in IT, engineering, architecture, etc. for 2-4 year contracts. The husbands, who are hired to work in KL, bring their families along. Their wives are usually highly educated, but become housewives in an effort to support the husband’s careers. It was common that the wives rarely left the apartment compound. Only venturing outside with their husbands, and sometimes with their neighbors. Usually they visit others within the same floor, or from the floors above/below. But they rarely venture far. In a country that highly discriminates against Indian-Malaysians, these residents fall between the cracks because they are expatriate, middle-upper class, highly educated, brought to KL to work. They are self-contained within their own compound, looking at the troubles of Malaysia and the Indian-Malaysians from a distance even though they live in the same area. It’s a community within a community. A detail within a detail. Connected, but distant.
4. Why did you choose this specific place for the film?
CCCF: I had lived in this building for two years. This was my community for that period of time. This was my sightline.
5. What was the artistic process of Block B from start to finish?
Block B is a moving painting. The project started from a canvas of the monolithic cement building which neither had a personality nor unique features. The challenge was to allow the different personalities of the building and their stories seep out. What this meant was to partially choreograph or paint the singular unmoving image of the building into a vibrant ‘moving-image’ using physical movement and varying light sources.
6. How can individuals in the United States and abroad see more of your innovative work and other international short films?
CCCF: That’s tough question as it depends on festivals / exhibitors. Perhaps the website.
7. Where do your artistic inspirations come from and how do you hone your creativity?
CCCF: Normally, I am provoked to create a work. It is not necessarily an idea because I feel an idea is too casual. I am provoked like a nagging voice. A clear nagging voice with no source.
8. Who are some of your favorite filmmakers, artists, and authors?
CCCF: Francis Bacon.
9. What are your current projects and how can people outside of Malaysia see more of your amazing work?
CCCF: I’m sorting that out at the moment. Hoping to be provoked very shortly.