WHAT IS "THE SEARCH FOR WENG WENG"?
"The Search For Weng Weng" is the unbelievable true story of the real-life 2'9" Filipino James Bond and the latest Feature Documentary from Australian Guerrilla Film maker Andrew Leavold. Shot over seven years in Manila, it's the ultimate history of Philipino B-Films and chronicles Leavold's obsessive quest to find the truth behind what really happened to Weng Weng.
UPDATE: 25th MARCH 2014
THIS FRIDAY! THE AUSSIE PREMIERE OF "THE SEARCH FOR WENG WENG" AT PERTH'S MONSTER FEST
Perth, WA. Jewel of the Western Australia coastline. It's usually so far from the rest of the country, it usually gets left out of the action. But not this time.
Perth, prepare yourself for MONSTER FEST - a whole week of cult, horror, genre and weird film events, all curated by our Aussie distributor Monster Pictures, and all at the Luna Palace Outdoor cinema in Leederville, starting this Thursday.
THE SEARCH… screens this Friday (28th March) at 8pm with my collaborator Daniel Palisa and I introducing the film, followed by our good friend Stuart Simpson (Melbourne underground director of EL MONSTRO DEL MAR) unveiling his latest, CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY VANILLA (a much-recommended black, black comedy…described as "Taxi Driver…with ice cream"!). We're looking forward to seeing our Perth contributors front row centre as Australia gets its first official taste of Agent 00.
This Saturday I'm also helping Adelaide's Dick Dale host his "Best Of Trasharama-A-Go-Go", the cream of over ten years of Australia's nastiest Bad Taste Short Film Festival. Perth, if you needed proof that the circus is coming to town…!
Tickets and session times for all Monster Fest screenings are here: https://www.lunapalace.com.au/m/index.php?cin=festival&event_id=1083
"THE SEARCH FOR WENG WENG" MAKES ITS EUROPEAN PREMIERE - AT THE FAR EAST FILM FESTIVAL IN UDINE, ITALY…
…with yours truly as one of the guests! I can't begin to tell you how excited I am to be attending our grand unveiling - in the beautiful Northern Italian town of Udine, just near the Alps and the Austrian border - at one of Europe's most prestigious film events.
The festival screens from April 25th to May 3rd, and our film appears alongside some of Asia's top films and filmmakers, including HK's Fruit Chan, the Philippines' own Chito Rono, and many others.
This is just the start of our three-month European adventure, and we'll give you more details as we're allowed. I CAN say…south of France, here we come!
The official page of Udine FEFF is here: http://www.fareastfilm.com/EasyNe2/Homepage_eng.aspx
AND MORE NEWS: The Philippines' National Commission For Culture and the Arts (NCCA) has granted us funding to tour the Philippines' regioal centres in July/August this year. This means a crazed three-week burn across the length and breadth of the archipeligo: Manila, Cebu, Dumaguete, Bacolod, Davao, Laoag, Baguio, Palawan, Boracay…and Weng Weng's home neighbourhood in Baclaran!
LATER IN 2014: the rest of Australia, Melbourne's Monster Fest in November, New Zealand, Singapore, and tentative plans for Shanghai, San Francisco and beyond.
BRISTOL'S "BAD FILM CLUB" - Last week Daniel and I provided a video introduction to 130 of Bristol's most adventurous film punters, at a special screening of FOR Y'UR HEIGHT ONLY. You can see us here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhwvL6ObnYg - doing our Abbott and Costello routine and giving the doco a VERY gratuitious plug!
UPDATE: 30th JANUARY 2014
"THE SEARCH FOR WENG WENG" KICKSTARTER UPDATE #9: DIRECTOR ANDREW LEAVOLD INTERVIEWS HIMSELF
Welcome back to Kickstarter, Andrew.
Thanks Andrew. Hi Kickstarter folk! And sorry I haven't been in touch since October. I desperately wanted to send an update to let our backers know about our film's progress once we had some definitive news about our overseas' screenings. Right now we're waiting to hear back from the first round of film festivals…What I CAN tell you is the first ever Australian screening will be at Perth's MonsterFest in March 2014, and my cohort Daniel Palisa and I are heading back to the Philippines late March for a month to tour THE SEARCH FOR WENG WENG up and down the archipelago. We'll post details as they appear on our radar.
How did the Manila World Premiere go?
It was fantastic! Jim's finished cut on hard drive arrived in Manila mid-November for colour grading at Outpost Visual Frontier in San Juan, while the sound mix was completed by Corinne de San Jose (On The Job). Post-production finished just 24 hours before the opening night! We had a decent turnout at the 800-seat UP Film Center in Quezon City, and the response was overwhelming. On stage with me to introduce the film were Weng Weng's main creative team: me, co-writer/producer Daniel Palisa and soundtrack star Roy Arabejo (Australia), editor Jim Scott (UK), line producer Kristine Kintana, cinematographer Jordan Arabejo, cartoonist Ronald Tan, plus Weng Weng's family, Eddie Nicart, Weng Weng's co-stars Pia Moran, Jim Gaines Jr, Franco Guerrero, SFWW interviewees, and many more. Absolutely magical! Photos from the night are on our temporary website: www.searchforwengweng.webs.com/apps/photos/ You'll see the photos of Special Effects Queen Cecille Baun presenting me with a life-size bust of Weng Weng's head...cast from an actual life-mask she took in the early 80s! I can quite safely say: greatest gift EVER.
Footage of the premiere and the finished film appeared in a December 2013 Weng Weng profile on Manila's GMA7 TV show "Tunay Na Buhay", featuring interviews with me, Weng's brother Celing and Eddie Nicart, co-star (and SFWW interviewee) Pia Moran, and me and Weng's sister-in-law Editha making a pilgrimage to his final resting place Pasay City Cemetery. In the words of host Rhea Santos, "Pinoy James Bond Weng Weng has been forgotten but these Australian filmmakers will make us remember him ... Hoping that extras, sidekicks, etc will never be taken for granted." www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAFSjgnjXnA
Thanks must go to one of our Associate Producers, Ian del Carmen of Grindhouse Productions, for organizing the premiere and the second screening at Cinemanila International Film Festival on December 21. It was important for us that Weng Weng's story could be embraced by a home audience; in the words of Agent 00 himself, "Mission accomplished."
What about the merch?
I'm glad you asked! We at Weng HQ are getting ready to send the mountain of goodies (bobble heads, T-shirts, poster art and so forth). Our webmaster Drew will be sending a Kickstarter Survey form to everyone in the next week asking for your addresses, shirt sizes, and in the case of multiple choice deals, your preferences. If you're a contributor from outside Australia and you haven't added overseas' postage to your pledge (see Kickstarter's front page for details), we will also ask you to do so now.
You didn't mention the DVDs and Digital Downloads…?
Well, this is where it gets a little tricky. The GREAT news is the finished film played twice in Manila to a rousing reception - we even made it in a few "Best Of 2013" lists! This means our Australian distributor and international sales agent Monster Pictures has asked for the DVD release to be delayed until after festival season (Cannes, Toronto etc) so that we have a chance of selling the rights territory by territory. That's right - we're taking the film to the Cannes Film Market to screen for potential buyers…and if you're in Cannes this May, I MIGHT just see you there…
I understand this is disappointing news for everyone foaming at the mouth for their "Search For Weng Weng Special Edition". But please look at things this way: what started out as a DIY indie release is turning into something much bigger than we expected, and in fact we have all our Kickstarter pledgers to thank for that.
Top Ten lists, you say?
Absolutely! Critic Noel Vera named us one of the best films of 2013 in US magazine Businessworld alongside Scorsese, Malick, Wong Kar Wai, American Hustle and Lav Diaz's Norte: "...what Leavold reveals in his prodigiously affectionate piece of cinejournalism is that there are arcane pleasures to be found in this more disreputable branch of Philippine cinema..." (see www.criticafterdark.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/the-best-of-2013.html). We also made the Philippines' top films of 2013 in Adrian Mendizabal's list at www.sensesofcinema.com/2014/issue-69-december-2013/2013-world-poll-part-2/
Then there's a GLOWING review by San Francisco blogger Todd Stadtman on his Die Danger Die Die Kill! "...what ultimately amounts to a serious, compassionate and rigorously competent work of investigative journalism." www.diedangerdiediekill.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/the-search-for-weng-weng-australia-2013.html
You mentioned a temporary website?
Until we have the time and the mental space for something permanent and more detailed, this is it: www.searchforwengweng.com/
We've added a ton of photos and links (please take a look at the list of articles and interviews at www.searchforwengweng.webs.com/apps/links), and for now it's a handy spot to receive more frequent updates of the film's incredible journey.
Here's some more media:
- "Weng Weng Lives!" interview and profile by Eric S. Caruncho in the Philippines' Sunday Inquirer newspaper: www.lifestyle.inquirer.net/145619/weng-weng-lives
- Ren Aguila's review on the GMA website: "… a tight weave of film clips, interviews, and the story of de la Cruz, told in part in pencil sketches by illustrator Ronald Tan. There are moments of light humor and unintentional surrealism, especially in the Ilocos Norte sequence where Leavold and crew visit the former First Lady. The story ends on a note that is as abrupt as the end of de la Cruz’s career, avoiding a sentimentalism that would have otherwise ruined the moment." www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/340008/lifestyle/reviews/movie-review-the-search-for-weng-weng-tells-untold-stories
- "8 Things To Dig In The Search For Weng Weng" article by Tzaddi Salazar, on the 8 List website: "While Leavold’s voice and obsession with the midget from Baclaran fuels this docu, it is ultimately his good intentions and love for Pinoy movies that both guides and protects him on his journey to discovery and catharsis." www.8list.ph/search-for-weng-weng
- Radio interview on Brisbane's 612 ABC Local talking all things small and Filipino! www.abc.net.au/brisbane/topics/arts-and-entertainment/film-movies/?page=6
Phew! So much happening!
Tell me about it. 2013 went past with dizzying speed, and 2014 is proving already to be just as manic. Everyone, thanks for reading, hope to see you on the road sometime this year, and thank you once again for being part of our astounding eight-plus year journey. And Andrew: thanks for listening.
Andrew Leavold, THE SEARCH FOR WENG WENG Director, Co-writer, Co-producer (firstname.lastname@example.org)