Malaysia / 128 mins / World Premiere – Tokyo Film Festival, International Competition
Directed by Edmund Yeo / Greenlight Pictures
A coastal town is turned upside down by the construction of a radioactive rare earth plant. An idealistic teacher and a group of high school students find themselves battling for the soul of their hometown. Based on real-life events, River of Exploding Durians is a sweeping tale of Malaysian history and its youth, where people are enveloped by politics and sadness while searching for love.
This film is based on real-life events in Malaysia. A few years ago, a rare earth plant is being built near a town by the sea. The townspeople protested against the construction due to possible radioactive effects. Malaysian filmmakers Liew Seng Tat, Yeo Joon Han, Woo Ming Jin and Tan Chui Mui made a short film omnibus called “Welcome to Kampung Radioaktif” that was screened at International Film Festival Rotterdam 2012 to protest against this.
Almost two years later, I made this film because this controversy is still ongoing.
This film is a reflection of our struggles, with a story based on my own memories and yearning, as well as inspiration from Yukio Mishima’s novels SPRING SNOW and RUNAWAY HORSES. After this incident, after MH370, after MH17, if in some ways this film can be seen as an expression of how we Malaysians are always seeking a glimmer of hope in the darkness of despair, I will have done my job.
Edmund Yeo makes films in both Malaysia and Japan. His short films have won critical acclaim in major film festivals the world. He was the youngest Malaysian director to ever compete at the Venice Film Festival in 2009 with his Japanese-language short “Kingyo”. The following year, he won the Best Asian Short Film Award at the Busan International Film Festival with his Malaysian short, “Inhalation”. Numerous of his short films, “Exhalation”, “Last Fragments of Winter” and “Floating Sun” were screened at International Film Festival Rotterdam.
Yeo is also the producer, editor and co-writer of Woo Ming Jin’s films “The Elephant and the Sea” (2007), “Woman on Fire Looks for Water” (2009), “The Tiger Factory” (2010), which premiered at Cannes Film Festival and “Second Life of Thieves” (2014).
His debut feature film “River of Exploding Durians” premiered at the Main Competition section of the Tokyo International Film Festival 2014. The first Malaysian film in history to attain this honour.