I’m posting this from the Pusan International Film Festival, South Korea. Half of the Malaysian indie filmmaking scene is here too. There has been more red carpet. And screaming teenage girls. And lots of hanging out with Andy Lau. Yes, life is getting a little surreal.

There are three Malaysian film represented at Pusan this year, Ho Yuhang’s ‘Rain Dogs’, James Lee’s ‘Before We Fall In Love Again’, and Tan Chui Mui’s ‘Love Conquers All’. And because all three are either funded or distributed by Andy Lau’s Focus Films, Yuhang and I have been included as part of Andy’s group at the festival – which is also honoring him with the ‘Asian Filmmaker Of The Year’ award.

What this means is that, apart from doing lots of interviews, Q&A sessions, and attending screenings, we’ve also been sucked into the wake of Andy Lau’s whirlwind-like popularity in Korea. Thus, we’ve attended high-powered industry functions (everyone who is anyone in the engine room of Asian cinema attended), appeared in one of the most popular talk shows in Korea (‘Red Carpet’ – with a hilarious host), and were paraded in a ‘Meet The Fans’ event by the seaside where Andy introduced us to his army of screaming fans.

Lest you misunderstand, when I wrote ‘screaming fans’, I really did mean ‘screaming’. The frantic passion of Korean fans really has to be experienced ‘live’ to be believed. It was not just that it was loud – it was also piercing and sharp. Like nothing you’ve ever heard before. Like thousands of knives cutting your ear drums into shreds. And because Andy does such a good job of making us feel a part of everything, the fans responded and began treating us with pretty much the same adulation they afforded him. As such, all I had to do was wave at a section of the crowd and a wall of screaming hysteria would come flying back. Serious. I should know – because I tried it many times. Just to be sure it wasn’t a fluke. And it wasn’t.

Not that being absolutely idolised by strangers is not the highlight of the trip, but hanging out with Andy was pretty hard to beat. I’ll have to be honest and say that Andy has over the years been a famous name to me but little else. His music doesn’t do much for me, and with the exception of a few of his recent films, I have not been a fan of his movies either. But a few days of hanging with him is adding a dimension to him that I did not expect. At risk of gushing like a teenager, the guy is a superb human being. You can’t help but be impressed by the polished approach to everything he does (from conducting interviews to talking to his fans to making sure his entourage is looked after). Hell, I learned tonnes just by observing him time his TV interviews to exactly 3 minutes as required. Anyway, he is highly professional when it came to work, carries no airs even away from the cameras, and treats absolutely everyone with equal respect. After hanging with him for a few days, I now understand how he came to be so successful and for so long. He is chatty, fun-loving, talented, and intelligent. He also possesses genuine vision and an ability to connect with people. He is a very easy person to like. Hopefully, we’ll get to meet again soon.

I’ll be here till the 19th. Then I’ll fly to Tokyo for the film festival there. As Andy won’t be in Tokyo, it will be a calmer affair for all of us. Something tells me I will miss the hysteria. Chuckle. But as compensation, I’ll be meeting loads of old friends and new people. I’ll also be playing live in Shibuya on the 29th. There’ll be lots of industry people coming as well as fans from my 2003 tour of Japan. Should be great fun.

More information on the Tokyo gig is HERE.