The Second Life of Thieves


Malaysia / 87 mins / World Premiere – Busan Film Festival

Directed by Woo Ming Jin / Greenlight Pictures


Mr. Tan discovers that his wife has disappeared with his friend Mr. Lim, whom he had a secret relationship with for decades. Forming an unlikely friendship with Mr. Lim’s daughter Sandy, they embark on an emotional journey that will open old and new wounds alike. Juxtaposing between present day and 30 years in the past, The Second Life of Thieves is a meditation on love, loss, and regret.

Director’s Statement

My uncle passed away from mysterious circumstances in 2006. He had lived a fairly distant and inconsequential life, at least to my eyes. Married but without children, he treated my aunt, whom he had been arranged to marry, with the kind of indifference accorded to a stray dog wondering the streets. He was often stoic to a point of apathy at family gatherings, always appearing out of his skin, his eyes unfocused, not in the present.

It was only in 2012 that I discovered he had died of AIDS, a fairly uncommon demise in the town he lived in. Soon little details began to emerge. Beneath the constant alcoholic state he was in, he had another life, one that stayed hidden, suppressed beyond the depths no humanity could sustain for long. The truth about him did not make him stronger, it broke him. The reality is, he could’ve done nothing more. Where he lived, his family, none of them would’ve accepted him coming out. It was not an option to him. Of this I am certain. And thus the eyes perpetually glazed with a mixture of Guinness (his drink of choice), and a sort of sadness none of us could ever comprehend. This film is inspired by his life, however inconsequential it may have been.

Director’s Biography

Woo Ming Jin has the distinction of being the first Malaysian director to have his films screened in Cannes, Berlin and Venice film festivals. His first film Monday Morning Glory (2005) screened at the Berlin and Locarno Film Festivals, while his second, Elephant and the Sea (2007), won awards in Torino, Cinema Digital Seoul, Portugal and Spain film festivals. Woman on Fire Looks for Water (2009) premiered at the Venice International Film Festival, and has played in Pusan, Rotterdam, Los Angeles and the Pompidou Center in Paris, among many others.

The Tiger Factory (2010), only the third film in Malaysian history to be selected to the Cannes Film Festival, premiered at the Director’s Fortnight, and won the Special Jury Mention at the Tokyo Film Festival in 2010.

Ming Jin is a founding partner in Greenlight Pictures, which produces tv shows, branded content, commercials and movies.

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