The Jakarta Post
Star studded: HBO Asia reveals its newest Asian originals lineup at a recent press conference featuring (front row, from left) David Wang, Vivian Hsu, Jonathan Spink, Jessica Kam and James Wen, and (back row, from left) Daniel Fu, Cheang Pou-Soi, Eric Khoo and Billy Christian. (Agrakom PR/-)
From Asian cuisines to sci-fi and the world of the supernatural, premium cable television network HBO Asia will feature them all in its newest exclusive lineup of Asian original productions.
Four series will soon make their debut, including Food Lore, an eight-episode anthology series exploring the human narrative through the perspective of Asian cuisines.
Helmed by award-winning Singaporean filmmaker Eric Khoo, Food Lore features eight countries across Asia and is directed by a number of Asian directors, including Indonesia’s own Billy Christian.
Food Lore. (HBO Asia/-)
According to Billy, the offer to participate in Food Lore directly came from Khoo, who was very impressed with one of the movies directed by the Indonesian filmmaker.
“My film, Mereka Yang Tak Terlihat [They Who Are Not Seen] was screened at the Scream Asia Film Festival, which was created by Khoo. It’s a horror film, but it also has elements of drama in it. Khoo loved the movie, we got into a discussion about my movies, and the offer came after that,” Billy said, adding that he originally thought that Food Lore was related to Folklore, a horror anthology also by HBO Asia.
Billy explained that he wanted to create something based on popular Indonesian dishes like rendang and nasi goreng. However, he changed his mind later on, preferring to utilize a simple dish familiar to many Indonesians of all backgrounds.
“Then I set out to create a story that is connected to the ingredients of the dish. It’s uniquely Indonesian, iconic and directly connected to the story.”
Primarily known for his supernatural-infused movies, Billy said there were some challenges in creating the series, which directly relates to the senses.
“In horror, it’s how to give the viewers a good scare during and after the movie. The challenge here is to get the audience to experience the dish’s flavours, like spiciness, saltiness and sweetness,”
“It’s a challenge for me to create the visuals in such a way that they can taste what’s on the screen. It’s also a challenge to get the audio to bring some suggestion to our palate.”
Billy said the team was currently scouting locations for filming.
“I want Indonesians from all over the country to be able to relate to the story, particularly because every region has this specific vegetable that is central to the plot.”
Also part of the new Asian originals lineup is Dream Raider, HBO Asia’s first science fiction drama starring Vivian Hsu, David Wang, Jason Wang, Weber Yang and Ellen Wu.
Dream Raider. (HBO Asia/-)
Directed by Daniel Fu and Simon Hung, Dream Raider centers on a team of police and scientists investigating a criminal conspiracy exploiting the human consciousness involving advanced technology that enables them to enter the dreams of others.
Then there is Taiwan’s The World Between Us, which follows the aftermath of a mass shooting where the fates of everyone involved, from the killers to the media, are linked to one another.
The World Between Us. (HBO Asia/-)
The 10-episode drama is shot entirely in Taiwan, helmed by award-winning filmmaker Lin Chun-Yang and written by the renowned screenwriter, Lu Shih-Yuan. A Taiwanese all-star cast also joins the production, including Alyssa Chia, James Wen and Wu Kang-Jen.
The last in the lineup is the second season of The Teenage Psychic, a coming-of-age drama featuring teenage intricacies mixed with the supernatural directed by up-and-coming director Liu Yan-Fu. Actress Kuo Shu-Yau reprises her lead role as Xiao Zhen, a 17-year-old psychic born with the ability to see spirits. New cast members joining Kuo include two-time Golden Bell Award-winning actress, Wen Chen-Ling and up-and-coming star Fandy Fan.
The Teenage Psychic. (HBO Asia/-)
The latest lineup of Asian originals is set to follow up HBO Asia’s worldwide success in 2018, according to HBO Asia CEO Jonathan Spink.
“Over the past seven years, we recognize the significance and importance of locally produced programming. Since 2012, the number of Asian original productions we have done has been increasing and they have all proven to be very effective for us,” Spink said.
“We maintain our commitment to producing outstanding programming and will continuously aim to present our content to our audience in the region, in an easily accessible way. We will continue to produce the highest quality content that the HBO brand represents and showcase to the world the best Asia has to offer.” (hdt)