Astro Shaw, HBO Asia and Finas announced this week that filming had commenced in Malaysia on the big-screen version of Tan Twan Eng’s award-winning novel “The Garden of Evening Mists”, including among the scenic tea plantations of the Cameron Highlands.
Acclaimed director Tom Lin is in charge of a cast including Lee Sinje, Hiroshi Abe, John Hannah, David Oakes, Serene Lim and Tan Kheng Hua.
Malaysian Lee Sinje plays the lead role of Teoh Yun Ling in the 1950s and Taiwanese actress-director-producer Sylvia Chang takes up the role in the 1980s.
Hiroshi Abe portrays Nakamura Aritomo, the exiled Japanese gardener with whom Yun Ling is romantically involved. British actors David Oakes (“The White Queen, Victoria”) and Julian Sands (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) play Frederik Gemmell in the 1950s and the 1980s, while John Hannah (“Four Weddings and A Funeral”, “The Mummy” trilogy) is Magnus Gemmell.
Up-and-coming Malaysian actress Serene Lim plays Teoh Yun Hong; Yun Ling’s sister.
“Over two-thirds of the cast and crew are Malaysians, signalling Astro’s commitment to nurturing local talent for international exposure,” said Astro chief Najwa Abu Bakar.
“We are also privileged to work with talents of diverse backgrounds from Taiwan, Japan, India and Australia to showcase Malaysia’s unique voice through Tan Twan Eng’s award-winning novel.
“The lyrical and beautiful story captivates its readers with the mesmerising beauty of Malaya after World War II and we are confident that the vivid adaptation will resonate among Asian audiences and beyond, due to many similarities in shared culture, language and history.”
HBO Asia is “committed to ramping up its slate of original productions”, said its senior vice president, Jessica Kam.
“We are thrilled to partner with Astro Shaw to produce this extraordinary feature film with a Malaysian soul by world-class film professionals, and to showcase it to our audience on our digital, linear and on-demand platforms across 23 territories in Asia and beyond.”
As Yun Ling narrates her story, the audience is taken through a series of post-war flashbacks. Yun Hong’s death haunts her, as does her relationship with the Japanese gardener who helps her build a garden in memory of her sister.
The movie is slated for a theatrical world premiere next year.