We recently had the opportunity to interview Eric Ong, director of Adiwiraku. Inspired by a true story, Adiwiraku is about a Cheryl Ann Fernando, a determined teacher stationed at a rural school in Sungai Petani, who found a way to teach her students to speak and write in English. Widely considered to be an uplifting film that not only brings up real-world issues but how to understand them as well. Below are some snippets and excerpts from the interview:
Eric said that there are a few projects in the pipeline. One of the movies is about unity. He thinks that unity is very important for a multiracial country such as Malaysia and Singapore. He stated that multiracial harmony is the utmost important thing that we want to do. Apart from that, he said that he also wants to make a movie that touches on equality in seeking medical care.
He stated, “If Adiwira Ku talks about equality in education, the next project will touch on the equality of medical care”.
He stated that his direction is very simple. He wants to do something that is more meaningful. Eric added “this doesn’t mean that the other films out there is not meaningful”. For him, he just wants to do something that reflects the truth of the society that we are living in. he wants to bring up things that we can ponder upon, things that will make us think twice and reflect and help make a change. Eric being humble, admitted that he is not that great but this is what he wanted to do, something that he can contribute to the society and at the same time feeling satisfied with what he is doing.
When asked about the film industry in Malaysia, Eric answered that Adiwira Ku is his first film debut and he chose Malaysia to debut in due to the larger, more varied audience in Malaysia. Eric also mentioned that the polarization between the illiterate and the literate is large and the contrast between the rich and the poor is strong. Eric has been in the Singaporean TV scene for the past 20 years.
We asked him what made him made the jump from making TV series to making films. He said that he was a film graduate (Eric is a graduate from University of Malaya), so obviously his dream was to make a film. He said when making a TV series, a lot of people are involved with the creative. Everyone wants to have a say with how the story should go, unlike a movie. A movie is a hundred per cent of what you want to do. He mentioned that he funded the movie “Adiwira Ku”. That meant that he had full control. With him calling all the shots, he said that it was definitely much more satisfying than when making TV series.