Dated: 16 January 2004
As Singapore thrusts its way into the international arena, one swashbuckling documentary has propelled a Made by Singapore product into the big league.
Released in conjunction with the Tom Cruise's blockbuster "The Last Samurai", Bang Singapore and Wayward Media are proud to announce that "Samurai: Behind the Blade" will soon be on television screens across Asia. After a successful US and Canadian airing, the documentary, commissioned by National Geographic, has just been released in Japan and is expected to be shown in Singapore on 18 January 2004 (Sun) at 8pm and 19 January 2004 (Mon) at 2am over National Geographic Channel 11 on StarHub Cable Vision.
"This is a major milestone for the local media industry - a Singaporean company producing an international documentary tied to a Hollywood blockbuster movie. It shows that our industry meets international standards and has the talent and ability to produce content that can travel beyond Singapore. This puts us in the international media map. It is a strong boost to our efforts to develop Singapore into a global media city." said Lim Hock Chuan, Chief Executive Officer, the Media Development Authority.
The documentary is the most expensive documentary ever to be funded and produced in Singapore. Supported by the Media Development Authority through the TV Content Industry Development Scheme and Telefilm Canada, this international co-production brought together as many as five participating partners - including co-producers Alliance Atlantis, Canada's biggest production house;Bang Productions Singapore (Asian Enigma, Hong Kong's Big Bet);and Singaporean content development and scripting house, Wayward Media. Behind the scenes, pulling the documentary together was editor Martyn See, music producer Don Richmond and camera work by Singapore resident Brad Dillon, together with Singaporean Ryan Seet.
"Samurai: Behind the Blade, is a one hour documentary co-produced by Bang Singapore, Wayward Media and Alliance Atlantis Factual Productions, Canada. The film was produced for National Geographic Canada, National Geographic U.S and National Geographic International and we thank them for their confidence in the project. The talented creative and technical team was equally represented by the two countries. Samurai, Behind The Blade was possible due in no small part to the support and wonderful co-operation between Singapore's Media Development Authority and Canada's Telefilm and Cavco Treaty offices. Co-production treaties between countries offer the opportunity for established professionals from both participating countries a way to make high caliber films that receive great visibility through international broadcast and afford young talent the chance to work alongside mature talent in a nurturing, stimulating environment. We all appreciate the initiative to give home grown talent a chance to shine on the world stage." said Patricia Phillips, Executive Producer, Alliance Atlantis.
"To be able to bring so many different partners to the table was a mammoth achievement. Co-productions like this are the basis for Singapore's documentary industry to reach real commercial development. And it was all due to the efforts of the Media Development Authority who have been the true catalyst in bringing it together with bi-lateral co-production treaties. We are grateful and thankful to them for receiving the kind of support we did." said Keiko Bang, President, Bang Productions Singapore.
Filmed across Japan in 2003, the 1-hour documentary traverses time and place to walk the path of Miyamoto Musashi, the greatest samurai who ever lived - and explores modern Japan's fascination with the legendary samurai, who live on in comic books, video games, music and consumer products. "It was fascinating to view the myth and beliefs of the samurai through a modern filter, be it pop culture or painful pockets of history. We tracked down the last living kamikaze pilot in the midst of a typhoon heading our way - kamikaze means "divine wind", so the symbolism was not lost on us. The samurai code has been upheld, glorified, and used to sell everything from death to instant noodles. Our job was to look beyond the surface and try to shed insight into the unspoken code Japan still holds on to," said Yvette Sitten, producer and associate writer, Wayward Media.
Moving across eras was no easy task - producers and crew travelled to the Eastern region of Japan - the legendary samurai city of Soma where an ancient samurai festival still takes place yearly. For three days, samurai descendants and horse-breeders replay ancient pitched battles. The team also travelled to Nikko, where a samurai village has been re-created, and viewers can get a glimpse into the abodes of these fearsome warriors. The past also came alive in the smoky workshops of traditional swordmakers, who are carrying on the unique Japanese heritage handed down by the samurai. "Samurai: Behind the Blade" moves from warriors to e-warriors, iron forges to internet furore, offering a rare glimpse into myth and reality and the heroes (and a few heroines) behind the unbreakable samurai blade.
For meddia queries, please contact:
Alliance Atlantis Entertainment Group
Ms Linda Steele
Producer, Factual Production
Tel: (416) 934 7831
Bang Productions Singapore
Ms Keiko Bang
Tel: (65) 6222 3435
The Media Development Authority of Singapore Ms Yvonne Poh
Assistant Manager, Communications
Tel: (65) 6837 9894