When I first mentioned to my dad that I was going to this press conference to meet Simon Yam, his eyes lit up. “Simon Yam? THE actor?” he asked.
Simon Yam is a big deal. Think George Clooney or Daniel Craig kind of big deal in the Hong Kong super stardom category. With over 170 films to his credit like Naked Killer, SPL, Election, The Thieves and countless others, this award-winning actor has received international celebrity status for his impeccable skills.
He’s here in Toronto during the Reel Asian International Film Festival where he’s promoting his directorial debut (as well as acting in) the horror ghost movie Tales From The Dark Part 1 . He is also in the Film Festival’s closing night film Ripples of Desire.
Although Yam is known for his roles in fight and police films this genre of ghost/horror stories is something that gave him the opportunity to explore a different territory. Directing was also something new. Yam explained during the press conference that he spent weeks prepping for his vision but wanted it to be something natural. “I like to be prepared so I spent countless nights waking up at 2 am wandering in my garden thinking about the vision,” said Yam. “I didn’t give the actors the script ahead of shooting the film, I wanted their natural reactions. I wanted more or less their first reactions.”
Yam talked about how the ghost stories are a reflection of the Hong Kong society today. The struggle between rich and the poor. But when I asked him if he believed in ghosts himself, he replied, “No, I don’t. But what I do believe in is the possible and the impossible…as well as the impossible being possible. Ghosts, no. But I do believe in UFOs.”
Yam is charismatic and a gentleman. He is gracious and humble. He wins your heart over easily with his charm and wit. He’s every bit as entertaining in person (and just as good looking) as he is in the movies. Yes, his charm had me blushing several times!
So, what’s next for this Hong Kong legend? He mentioned that he will be working on the sequel to Tales From The Dark Part 1 as well as a few other ghosts stories. Of course, those popular fighting and police themed movies will always be on his roster. He had mentioned that his 9 year old daughter wishes that he would create a movie that she and her friends can actually watch so, he’s considering making a short comedic film just for her. “But that won’t pay the bills. Living in Hong Kong is expensive!” He says with a laugh.
Simon Yam will be introducing the film Tales From The Dark Part 1 screening during the Reel Asian International Film Festival on Friday, November 8th (The Royal, 608 College Street) . He will also be staying for the Q&A afterwards.
For more information visit reelasian.com for more information.
About the film…
With a distinctly Hong Kong style and adapted from the horror novel series by best-selling author Lilian Lee, Tales From The Dark Part 1 brings together some of the most familiar stars and directors to present three supernatural stories about ghosts seeking retribution.
Award-winning actor Simon Yam makes his directorial debut with Stolen Body, a story about a little ghost and a poor man with a surprisingly socioeconomic message. Driven mad as he struggles to make his rent, the man (played by Yam) plots a quick fix that involves stealing from the dead.
Lee Chi Ngai directs A Word in the Palm, a horror/comedy featuring Tony Leung Ka-fai as a fortuneteller about to retire from his trade. On his last day at work, he is confronted by the ghost of a drowned schoolgirl seeking revenge.
The last tale, Jing Zhe, directed by Fruit Chan, focuses on the ancient practice of “villain hitting.” On a Hong Kong curbside, an old woman runs a business that lays curses on her customers’ enemies. This is accomplished through chanting and repeatedly smacking their likenesses with a shoe. When a young female apparition appears seeking spiritual reparations, the violence begins and quickly escalates to a climax of vengeance and justice.
Here’s the trailer…
TALES FROM THE DARK PART 1 | Hong Kong 2013 | Cantonese with English Subtitles | Rated 18A | Toronto Premiere
Directed by Simon Yam, Fruit Chan, Lee Chi-ngai
Cast: Tony Leung Kar-fai, Kelly Chen, Simon Yam, Dada Cahn, Lam Suet, Josephine Siao
Official Selection: New York Asian Film Festival 2013, Fantasia Festival 2013