Kee Thuan Chye and Lim Teik Leong as the overbearing bosses of FONY Corp in the movie ‘Sell Out!’
‘Sell Out!’ is a movie you might want to check out before it runs its course in local cinemas. It’s a satire about corporate greed and the choices many of us have to make – whether to live out our dreams and ideals or to succumb to the stifling dictates of the corporate value system. It is a movie rich in metaphor with some funny digs at Malaysian life thrown in.
“Sell out!” character Rafflesia Pong, a reality TV show host, comes up with a brainwave
This is Yeo Joon Han’s first feature film and it is part musical (you are even expected to sing along to its karaoke-style subtitles at one point), part art-film, and part parody of the evils of capitalism and the pretensions of art. A self-absorbed Malaysian TV host, Rafflesia Pong, whose art-discussion programme is dying from lousy ratings, stumbles upon a golden opportunity when her latest interviewee, an ex-boyfriend, dies in front of the camera. It is perfect timing as she has to find a way to come up with the ultimate reality show, so as to outdo her American-accented, pan-Asian rival. Eric Tan is a mild-mannered, half-English corporate slave who labours to create the perfect Soyamaker Machine. But he is constantly assailed by unreasonable insults from his megalomaniacal CEO bosses (played with comic gusto by the hilariously poker-faced and Lim Teik Leong) because of his creativity and originality. One day, the dreamer in Eric steps out of the latter’s physical body and the original Eric has to make a decision whether to assassinate this dreamer-part of himself or not. All of these unforgettably quirky characters operate in a place that is unmistakably Malaysia (or, shall we say, ‘Truly Asia’), its capitalistic aspects exaggerated to ridiculous proportions. Bangkok Post has described the irreverent, subversive, surrealistic and sharply satirical movie, which also features three main local languages – English, Malay and Cantonese – as “a spiky satire of the new Malaysia”.
Yeo Joon Han was a lawyer-turned-copywriter who gave up his well-paying job in 1999 to become a fulltime filmmaker. The 37-year-old Yeo who hails from Seremban made his first ever short film in 2001 on 35mm format before the advent of the Malaysian indie film scene, the project was eventually completed to become, a film that was shortlisted for the 63rd , making him the first ever first-time Malaysian director to compete in the festival, even receiving a Special Mention. Sell Out! won the for Alternative Vision at the same prestigious festival in 2008.