Hey guys, Sorry for the long MIA!!! Uprooting to a new country is always hectic (to say the least). So I've been away from the Singapore + online scene for a while now and heaps of people have been asking if I've left the media / acting scene. BUT guess what? I'm still here... and these are updates on my lingering presence...Wee Li Lin's new feature is finally out!Despite my mini comical cameo in there, I really did enjoy the little time I worked on this piece. I mean how often do I (a) get to wear a FAT SUIT and (b) eat my way throughout a day of work?Can you even imagine that scene? Aren't you dying to catch the hilarity of it all?in Singapore cinemas 3rd March 2011!SINDIE 100 POSTERS EXHBITIONBrought to you by SINDdie, and co-organized by Substation & Objectifs, is held in conjunction with Singapore Short FIlm Awards 2011. Admission is free and it showcases poster art, made possible by contributions from more that 60 directors!I spotted my face (via online publicity) in posters such as andPoster (on top right of Poster by Boo Jun Feng). ***This poster version of was previously NOT released in Singapore, but displayed during it's premiere in Cannes Film Festival., AKA number 80.Also sighted other films I've been involved in, such as, , , and who knows what else!If you would like to support Singaporean films, or curious about this mini industry we have, alongside part of its short history, do drop by Substation before the 6th March 2011!SHORT FILMS!After screenings in Hongkong and Bangkok's , is finally making its way to Singapore! As part of the , will be screening on the 4th of March 2011 as a nominee of "Best Experiment Film" and "Best Art Direction" award. More details can be found on the Substation website. Last month, was screened in Beloit International Film Festival , Wisconsin, USA 2011 and will make its appearance in August 2011 in Sacramento Film & Music Festival, California, USA 2011. has also won awards in Milan & USA for both its music & film since last yearLast but not least, feature film, , made it into the Taiwan market in January 2011! Go Singapore films!!!WHAT ELSE?I don't know, I haven't been around. Maybe you can update me a little? Perhaps TV reruns of my shows? Random publicity I've missed out?I may be busy, but I'm still here and I miss all of you peeps out there, heaps. *hUgz~love,Jeszlene
Earlier this year, Singapore released a well-received English Legal drama entitled The Pupil. In fact, it's so popular, there's an encore telecast on air right now. But that's not the point of this blog post. The point is, legal dramas are so in, there a Chinese version on Ch8 right now! AND... I'm in it! =) I pretty psyched that I've a role in both the English + Chinese versions, and for the exact number of episodes nonetheless! 如萍阿姨also acted in both series, and it was a joy seeing her again, as she was a huge part of my stint as a child actor! This is also my first 好人 role on Ch8!!!!! Finally I'm done playing the antagonist, and my on screen tears are actually justifiable! (Another similarity between both my legal drama roles. Although I wonder why I'm always crying when I'm not playing a bad guy) Here some of my 可怜兮兮 face during our rehearsals / script reading. (Ch8 dramas usually conduct rehearsals right before a take, instead of on separate days.) That's 燕金 导演 (left) walking us through the reading. As you can tell from the background, rehearsals are conducted during crew setup time. Ain't they technically efficient? Before the camera starts rolling, let's check out how the actors look on screen. Ops! Some loose fringe that needs tidying. That's probably the director's fingers pointing out flaws to her Assistant Producer (AP). Ready or not?! hmm... wonder why I look bewildered here. (Do notice the background's no longer camera crew running around, but extras sitting in as office staff! ~Little details of the TV world~)Now my “big” scene During most project, there's often a scene I look forward to, or get obsessed with. For 走进走出, this goes to my fainting scene. This looks like a pretend fall (for camera blocking), or the end of a take. hmmmmm.... I must have been waiting for the next scene, and being pensive while touching my hair! Finally! I know this doesn't look like much but after falling down on various spots, balancing both emotional aspects of my character and making sure I fall into the camera frame, it did hurt my knees a little *pOut~ I was also really scared of crushing 蕙雯cause she's so petite! Thankfully we already have a rapport going on from our previous collaborations in小娘惹&当我们同在一起so it helped me feel more comfortable leaning on her. After all, once you've kicked & slapped someone on screen, leaning your body weight on them isn't that awful anymore. So why did Ivy faint in 赵宁's office? Why does she look so sad? What's this new character about? Stay tune to 走进走出 to find out more! Love Jeszlene
還魂 (Blood Ties) had it's Singapore premiere in September 2009.This year, we're crossing the border, and bringing this film to our friends in Malaysia!還魂 (Blood Ties) A supernatural thriller... Many people believe that when a person dies, the spirit will return home on the 7th night... After Shun was brutally murdered, his spirit returned to possess his 13 year old sister to exact his revenge. On the 7th night, blood will flow and just deserts will be served. Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qb6knAxAViMIf you're in Malaysia, 還魂 (Blood Ties)'s coming to you, this Thursday, 30th September 2010, at all major cinemas! Love Jeszlene
Hey peeps! Been going slow on blog entries recently cause I'm busy packing up for Australia! Going for a nice little road trip down under, and exploring the Arts scene for a couple of months Am really excited right now , although it's equally tiring to tie up loose ends & run my errands in Singapore . So please be patient if I'm taking a while longer to reply any messages or write up new blog posts. My acting career...Going down under doesn't mean that I won't be seen on TV or the big screen no more. Keep a look out for my appearances over the next few of months on Singapore TV, in Singapore Cinemas, Malaysian Cinemas, Festivals in Bangkok, Berlin and who knows where else?! More details on AliveNotDead soon!!Interested in my travels?Hit up my travel blogs to catch up on my previous Vietnam trip and my upcoming Australia trip on my Arts & Travel Blog, JustJeszFriends in Australia...I'll be traveling around VIC/ACT/NSW (and who knows where else?) so give me a shoutout or any travel tips you have either on my AliveNotDeadblog, JustJeszblog, Jeszlene's Twitter or FaceBook account.Life is getting really exciting year after year, and I'm going to be celebrating my birthday soon too! Can't wait for all the surprises life has to offer...love,Jeszlene
Hey guys, Do you remember one of my short films I remember a couple of comments about screening updates or online viewing... so here it is...When Night Fa11s is participating in I've Seen Films - International Film Festival!!Entries are currently available online via the festival website. See, I fulfilled my promise Jeszlene is a good girl today... When you drop by the site, p lease remember to drop us a vote too, ok?(Voting ends 26th September 2010)To complete the viewing experience, here's a Music Video from our OST from Derrick Lui on Vimeo.###Hope you guys like it! love,Jeszlene
After my return from Vietnam, and having decided not to return for a third year, there was a sudden urge to contribute to another community. (Volunteering can sometimes be addictive.)
So, many of my personal friends, or readers of my previous blogs would know, there are a couple causes I strongly support. Namely (but not an exhaustive list), education of Children in developing countries, reduction of plastic bag usage and campaigning for the Arts. As an ad hoc supporter of UNICEF over the last couple of years, I finally decided to commit to a subscrīption with UNICEF International and a membership with UNIFEM Singapore this week. (UNICEF does not have a dedicated station set up in Singapore, but UNIFEM Singapore also campaigns for causes related to children.)
Here’s a welcome email I received.
Instead of just emailing 2 people, and sharing my beliefs over dinner, I’m gonna do one up, and share this with all of you (I’ve checked my stats, there’s definitely more than 2 people reading this page. LOLz~)
(1) Why I joined this cause?
I grew up with a generous mother, who made volunteering a way of life really. As for UNICEF in particular, it’s because I think children are the most innocent victims as well as the brightest future we have. They are a group of human beings that did not choose to be in a particular scenario due to greed, irresponsibility or any other vices. They were simply born disadvantaged, and one cannot be fault merely via their birth. Also, I’ve met many people in my life from disadvantaged backgrounds, but have achieved great feats when given the right opportunities (one of them is a recipient of the prestigious President Scholarship). So why not make a difference to those who can make the most out of it?
(2) Mention something from the UNICEF website.
(Paraphrased and heavily edited)
In a first world country, many of us often take schooling for granted. In fact, we often dread making the daily trip to school. BUT, DO YOU KNOW, in the aftermath of war, often nothing can make a child feel more secure than having a school to go to?
After the Rwandan genocide, many children had witnessed horrible violence or were forced to commit atrocities. For these children, going back to school meant a return to normalcy.
DO YOU KNOW THAT…
Your MacDonald’s meal @ US$5 can provide ten children with a pencil and exercise book.
Your weekend clubbing @ US$60 can provide a School-in-a-bag with individual school supplies for 40 students and 1 teacher.
Your new pair of jeans @ US$100 can provide 100 children with a sketch pad and crayons.
I do not advocate that you join UNICEF, unless there’s an emotional commitment attached to it. However, it would be awesome if you can dig into your pocket, and make a ONE TIME donation, even if it’s only a hamburger worth of US$5. Even dollar makes a difference.
To those the peeps in HongKong! What are your plans this weekend? How about taking a trip down to InDPanda International Short Film Festival, because...Mickey's an abstract but intellectual exposition of love, both in the emotional and scientific sense (in my humble opinion), and unlike what the photo suggests, is really nothing sleazy. Definitely an interesting take on love, by an awesome creative team.It's also a fun and delight experience in many ways.Not convinced?Here's some behind-the-scenes footage, which will hopefully convince ya to part with that 55HKD RehearsalsEvery good art work requires loads of preparation and planning. So here's evidence of us busting our a** away. People are always curious about how intimate scenes are shot / prepared. Basically it always starts off with a good discussion of personal comfort zone, like, to what extend would the actors be physically comfortable exposing and/or touching. Often, a contract will also be drafted as a follow through (example clause: underwear will be worn at all times, and if manipulated, genitals will not be shown on screen).Also the actors will have opportunities to build rapport with each other, hence gaining a sense of trust with each other. Partial rehearsals also lessens the "first time awkwardness" that will inevitably pop up during the first take.Once we're done with the script analysis and all that heavy stuff, let's get to a script read!!Here's Joe and I started off pretending to listen to director Wesley's long list on instructions, but it soon faded and it disintegrated into boredom and frustration.On SetYet Wesley never stopped directing us with long speeches, right into filming Actually Wesley's a really sweet and quiet chap. I just can't help myself with the selection of photos available, to pull a cheeky one. (Wes, if you're reading this don't be angry k? Jesz loves ya *gRiNz~)Seriously, being on set of was really really fun. Just check these pics out!!Fun, fUn, FUN!!There's no better way to work, than to be having a good time, right? And if I'm going down for this, so is everyone else!(L-R) Director Wesley giggling to himself; Co-actor Joe trying to scare me while I touch up ; AD Pris messing in front of the camera.Sound man Shaz and I even started playing a game whereby we took pictures of each other taking pictures of each other taking pictures... Obviously, people working behind the camera took better pictures than those who works in-front of the camera hmmm... there's no reasons for these pictures to be up, except I like how I look behind-the-scenes. *Narcissistic moment~!!!Hope these pictures and snippets of information's tempting enough to book those tickets for your film filled weekend! Remember it's 2pm this Saturday, at InDPanda International Short Film Festival as part of the "Torn Between Love and Lust" Series.Till the next time,Peace out!!
Last year, I spent a couple of weeks in Hue, Central Vietnam, as an English teacher for 20 over Vietnamese teens, thanks to the help of The Kind Exchange, a non-profit organization that matches young professions with community groups.
The centre I volunteered at was called Bao Tro House, or, The Haven, by English speakers.
Bao Tro House (The Haven)
The Haven Education Project was originally established by the Alumni Association of the Đồng-Khánh High School for Girls in Huế. It relied on small, ad hoc donations from the community, with the objective of paying the school fees of children from disadvantaged families in the area who showed promise at school and wanted to continue with post-primary school education.
The Haven supports junior and senior high school students – Grades 6 -12 or 12-18 years of age. The students live at The Haven’s residential complex in Phú Thương Ward, Huế, Central Vietnam. They attend school during the day and then receive after-school tutoring focused on building vocational skills such as English language and computer literacy.
In early 2007 The Haven received a substantial donation from a Vietnamese donor from Australia which enabled it to expand and improve the quality of its services.
In December 2007, the Project received final permission from the People’s Committee of Thua-Thien Province to operate as a ‘live-in’ facility for up to 30 students, with full and part-time tutoring and support staff.
And in July 2009, the school had it’s first foreign volunteer… me!!
This is my first time doing community work outside Singapore, with no knowledge of any Vietnamese (language/history/culture) nor the realities of what entails this trip, just an opened mind, and an idealistic soul.
First Shock – Language
I never learnt to speak any bits of Vietnamese before heading over. Not even basic words like Thank You ( Cảm ơn) or Hello ( Xin chào). How could I communicate with a bunch of Vietnamese kids whose only contact with the English language are classes conducted by Vietnamese teachers, who focused on simple writing, and little on speech?
In the Classroom
Their comfort zone - English words with Vietnamese “subtitles”!
Thank goodness for English – Vietnamese dictionaries phew~ I have to admit it was really tiring to breakdown sentences into words that we’ll have to search in the dictionary. Took almost forever to say anything. However, it taught me to simplify sentences using a couple of key words, instead of blabbering superfluously (my usual modus operandi).
Other methods of communication included sketching, gesticulating and observing.
It felt like a lot of work initially, and was extremely exhausting. Thankfully, there was Uncle Khon (his family contributes heavily towards The Haven) who spoke fluent English, and western expats near my hotel, who kept me sane with English conversations.
However, once you get over the initial stage of linguistic adjustment (took me half a week), it got really rewarding.
Often, we communicate so much with words (many of which are unnecessary), we forget the other forms of basic human instincts like facial expressions, body language, and energy levels. We also forget to observe simple visuals which are oh so gorgeous! While I still yak away incessantly (just check my phone bills for proof, or read my blog rants) the experience of communication without words was absolutely therapeutic, sincere and totally amazing.
Second Shock – Standard of Living
Call me ignorant, idealistic, or adventurous (take a pick), but my initial plan was to stay at Bao Tro House, instead of in a comfy hotel that Andrew (sponsorship Director of The Haven) suggested. Man was I in for a ride….
Standard of Living
The basic infrastructure of the centre is actually very well set up. There’s a TV, a shared computer, dormitory rooms, a huge kitchen, a yard, fans in every room, a proper washing area, a washroom in every bedroom in the centre wing, and common washrooms for the left wing… everything but… a HOT SHOWER!!!!!
I can’t live life without my hot showers. It’s ok if I had to sleep on wooden beds cover with straw mats, inside mosquito nets, no air-conditioning and even shower from a bucket, but here’s my limits. I need hot showers. Technically I could have boiled water and mixed it with the pail in the toilet, but I didn’t wanna inconvenient the matron (a sweet Vietnamese old lady who lives in the centre) or my students, or seem like some stupid foreigner who’s demanding superior treatment. So I moved out into a hotel (only US$10/night for cable TV, WIFI, aircon, clean sheets, nice bathtub, mini-fridge etc) after 3 days of endurance.
However, something my students said almost made me cry.
I really like Bao Tro House, because the standard of living here is much better than home.
These kids are so appreciative of everything. They appreciate the fact that there’s regular source of food (3 full meals a day) at the centre, loads of study time (kids often work in the villages as a contribution to the family) and education opportunities. The really simple things in life. Makes me feel really guilty, and a spoilt city girl.
Life in Bao Tro House is simple, and communal, the traditional Vietnamese way. During meals, the girls help to serve the food, and the boys set up the tables + chairs. Everybody enjoys their meals together at 6.30 am (breakfast), 11am (lunch), and 6pm (dinner) everyday.
When we go out for excursions, Bao Tro House has a full time cook, who’ll prepare the same meals, lag a pile of plates + pots with us and the routine never changes, when if meals are taken while squatting by the road side.
Best things in life are free!
I also love that my students are a really happy bunch. Besides hitting their books, life is pure joy. They play 5 stones (with actual pebbles), chess sets, traditional games, cycling, chasing each other, messing around in the yard and watching TV.
They always contented, even though don’t go out beyond school, tuition classes and religious lessons (except when donors of The Haven or foreign volunteers visit).
Last year, the Hooper-Nguyễn family and their friends visited while I was there. By then, we’ve taken the students to a couple of temples, a beach and the Elephant Springs, but this time it’s a full fledged excitement!
Every time that the Hooper-Nguyễn family and/or their friends visit, they always prepare lots of games, prizes and a fun-filled time for the students. Last year, they organized a drawing contest at the temples, a boat trip along the perfume river and a building contest at a heritage site (all in a day)!
After all education’s about fun, creativity and cultural exposure too!
All good things have to come to an end, so did my time in Huế.
Both times that I visited Bao Tro House, the matron (she’s like my Vietnamese mother) threw me a party. It’s really a simple gathering with candies, fruits and loads of singing, but it’s always really nice and touching.
Often it’s the best gifts aren’t the most expensive, but those from the heart. I always feel really bad when the matron offers me nice food or drinks, throws me a farewell party or gives me presents. However, I never appreciate any gifts more, because I know the giver has very little for themselves in the first place.
That’s sincere generosity, a true spirit of giving.
I thought I wouldn’t cry, but my girls did after the party, and when I eventually got back to my place at night, my eyes were moist.
Positive Changes (one year later)
As mentioned in The Haven website, the centre is focused on building vocational skills such as English language and computer literacy. I’m really really proud to say that when I visited the centre a year later, we have definitely managed to achieve both of these goals!!
During the one year, when I was back on Sunny Island Singapore, a few of my students were constantly in touch via emails. This is an amazing feat in 2 ways. (1) During my first trip there, the internet/computer seemed like a huge unknown force to some of these students. So the concept of logging on, on a regular basis felt surreal. (2) For teenagers who struggled to string even the most basic sentences together, writing a proper account of their experiences, that’s way impressive.
Just when you think we’re ready to feel congratulate ourselves, check this out!!
Laptop’s mine actually but it’s lovely seeing them get all excited checking out pictures we took a year ago! Even got one of my students to transfer the files to Bao Tro House’s shared computer, so everyone can look through these memories whenever! =D
Finally chased the big scary monster of the unknown cyber world out of the room and replaced it with a friendly chirpy cyber angel! *gRiNz~
My personal growth
Of course the exchange was 2 ways. In fact, I now believe that volunteers often receive more than they give out.
First, I learnt to appreciate life much better. The simple non-materialistic physical aspects of life. Which once you understand, and get used to, make you a much happier person.
Second, I learnt the power of love and appreciation. Again, contributes to happiness.
Third, I learnt how to slow my pace and be less uptight about life.
Fourth, human kindness, love, and more joy.
Finally, I learnt some Vietnamese!!!!!!!!!! How else can I convince my young punks to speak English unless I make the effort to learn their language?
(Actually this isn’t the best representation of my lessons, but some experiences are better felt than read. Didn’t wanna make it sound like a preachy or romantic speech either >.< )
Community Spirit in Huế
I know my impression of Huế may seem biased to many, due to my personal experiences, but most of Vietnam has a really strong sense of community. Besides orphanages and centres for the disabled, there are also loads of ventures in Huế that are community driven.
Food with a cause
Both of the above restaurants are set up as a means to provide a learning environment that aims to alleviate the situation of children wandering the streets of Huế. The French Bakery even provides training for its students, and pair them up with jobs post graduation. The prices are a tad steep by Vietnamese standards, (which is still reasonable by first world standards) but it’s all for a good cause!! Not to mention, the bread is so awesome it melts in your mouth… even the Europeans would agree, and these people know their pastry…
Besides my students, friends, and a surrogate Vietnamese family in Huế, it’s not difficult to understand why this part of Vietnam holds such a special place in my heart. Of course there are many other beautiful memories I can’t share in a single post… =)
Next up, I’ll share more about the beautiful sights of Huế, and experiences outside Bao Tro House!!
(Hopefully there won’t be such a huge gap in the time lapse too!)
If you’re ever interested in community work, write me comments on my post and I’ll answer all questions to the best of my abilities. Meanwhile, do check out The Kind Exchange (Singapore based), for various ways to contribute to our community, whether you’ve only a couple of hours to share, either on an ad hoc basis or as an ongoing commitment.
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