Black Magic Spices up Return of HBO’s ‘Folklore’ to Tokyo Film FestivalOctober 30, 2021
Premiering TV and streaming series at film festivals is becoming a familiar route for a growing number of ambitious shows. Few more so than HBO Asia’s horror anthology “Folklore,” which is spearheaded by Singapore’s Eric Khoo as showrunner.
Selected episodes from the first season of “Folklore” traveled in 2018 to a dozen festivals including Toronto, Sitges, Fantastic Fest, CinemAsia and the Tokyo International Film Festival.
The second season is returning to Tokyo and bowing two episodes before moving quickly into streaming from Nov. 14. Both episodes are directed by women. And both have Japanese connections.
Japanese music superstar Seiko Matsuda directs “The Day the Wind Blew,” an episode about an adoring schoolgirl who encounters the singing idol of her dreams. All seems well on the day that she gets to attend the star’s concert, but thereafter she seems to be followed around by a bone chilling presence.
While Matsuda says that the story is based on an experience that she personally lived through, Khoo also describes it as the most romantic of the season’s six episodes. Khoo was instrumental in persuading Matsuda to realize her ambition and direct, while also swaying rising actor Morisaki Win (“Ready Player One”) to star.
“She’s a very creative soul, very talented,” Khoo says of Matsuda. “After she told me this story, I got her to direct. And she did stellar.”
The other ‘Folklore” episode to show in Tokyo, “The Excursion” is directed by Singapore-based youngster Nicole Midori Woodford. The story features an insomniac and stressed-out mother whose husband is rarely around and whose son is talking to an imaginary friend. When the woman starts seeing a familiar ghostly presence, she understands a need to save herself and her family before it is too late. Woodford is now set to start shooting her first feature film, structured as a Singapore-Japan co-production, produced by another Khoo-academy alumnus Jeremy Chua (“Yellow Bird,” “Rehana”).
Khoo promises that the fear factor has been amplified in the new season. “Season one had a lot of famous Asian ghouls, like the Pontianak and the Toyol,” he says. “Season two focuses more on black magic, rituals and beliefs. It is a lot more creepy and scary. After all, we all believe to some extent. The Thai episode is extremely disturbing.
Other episodes (not showing in Tokyo) include: “Broker of Death,” by Thailand’s Sittisiri Mongkolsiri (“Sang Krasue”); “The Rope,” directed by Taiwan’s Liao Shih-Han; “Sunday” by The Philippines’ Erik Matti (“On The Job”); and Grandma’s Kiss by Indonesia’s Billy Christian (“Tuyul, Part 1,” HBO’s “Food Lore”).
And Khoo drops a hint of a seventh, bonus episode, that may premiere at another festival.
“Going to film festivals has been a very useful experience. I still remember being shown the Ridley Scott-executive produced series ‘The Terror’ in Berlin. It was amazing,” says Khoo. “Unfortunately, we finished the [Season 2] episodes too late to get them into Toronto and Sitges. But any festival is good publicity. And it seems that film festivals realize now that TV is more than just that little square box.”
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