Chiu stamps his mark in China

BEIJING: The director who is noted for the hit 2016 film Ola Bola is back with another sports-themed movie.

This time, Chiu Keng Guan races into the world of marathons with his directorial debut in China titled On Your Mark.Ola Bola was inspired by the true story of how the Malaysian national football team qualified for the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.

On Your Mark, too, is an inspiring tale about a taxi driver who watches his son’s health deteriorate as the young man suffers from multiple sclerosis – a disabling disease of the brain and central nervous system – and goes blind but nevertheless, helps him achieve his dream of running in a marathon.

Wang Yanhui and Marco Zhang star in the lead roles.

Chiu said his latest venture was a great learning experience that was exciting and memorable.

Race to the finish: Wang (left) and Zhang playing the father and son in a scene from ‘On Your Mark’, directed by Chiu (inset).Race to the finish: Wang (left) and Zhang playing the father and son in a scene from ‘On Your Mark’, directed by Chiu (inset).

“Taking part in a marathon reflects life in that you need to have discipline and consistency.

“At the starting point, you are full of confidence but after 10km, you will find that the journey is not what you thought it would be.

“Along the race, there will be checkpoints to reinvigorate yourself. Just like in life, you’ll need to stop, think, review and replan the road ahead.

“There will also be many companions on the route,” he said.

The Batu Pahat, Johor-born director also pointed out that this was the only sport in which a layman could compete with a world champion.

Chiu said it took him about a week to shoot the race, which only appears for a little over 10 minutes in the production.

“We replicated a real competition by blocking off roads and moving from street to street,” he said, adding that he had also consulted marathon trainers.

Working in the frigid weather was another unforgettable experience for the Malaysian filmmaker who is also known for the cross-cultural movie The Journey, a local box office hit in 2014.

“It was tough for me as well as the runners who were clad in summer sports attire,” he recalled.

Asked about his choice of doing a rather difficult movie with a theme that required major logistical support and a large number of extras, the 49-year-old said things fell into place naturally after he was approached by the producer whom he met at the Shanghai Film Festival in 2016.

“I was not too keen at first because I had just finished a sports-themed movie but after reading the script, I was touched by the story, especially the love between a father and son,” he said.

Following that, Chiu went into a hectic round of preparations including auditioning and interviewing hundreds of artistes for the roles.

But once the cameras rolled, it only took him 55 days to complete his filming.

On Your Mark hit cinemas across China yesterday in conjunction with Fathers Day, which falls tomorrow.

It is expected to be released in Malaysia next month.

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