Malaysian filmmaker Ho Yuhang shared that award-winning actress Yeo Yann Yann laughed when she read his script for the film Trespassed.

“She wanted to know if I had taken a lot of drugs while writing the script. Perhaps it was due to the film’s unconventional narrative and surreal style,” he said during a phone interview.

The script was enough to convince Yeo to star as a desperate mother looking for cure for her sick daughter in Ho’s short film. “Yeo was game. She didn’t hesitate at all,” said Ho.

Just last week, Ho’s Trespassed was picked as The Financial Times/Oppenheimer Funds winner in the “Emerging Voices” film category. The inaugural competition has been described as a year-long programme to identify and reward creative talent from around the world.

Ho, 44, received the award at an event in New York. “I didn’t expect it at all really. I was also surprised when Mira Nair (Mississippi Masala director and one of the judges) came up to me and said the film haunted her for days.”

Ho said his prize-winning short film Trespassed was loosely based on his late sister. Photo: Ho Yuhang

Ho said his prize-winning short film Trespassed was loosely based on his late sister. Photo: Ho Yuhang

Ho added that his 30-minute monochrome film is a story loosely based on his late sister. “It’s a very private film. When I made it, I didn’t have an audience in mind.”

Trespassed beat 100 other submissions from countries like India, Thailand and China to receive the grand prize of US$40,000 (RM168,808).

“Why should I tell you what do I plan to do with the money? I’m going to spend it all on alcohol!” he joked.

Later, he shared what he really plans to do with his prize money. “Times are bad so I really need to save that money. Probably give some to my mum. I don’t plan to splurge on anything.”

With the win, Ho has more confidence in showcasing Trespassed to a wider audience. “Hopefully, we can arrange an event here to screen the film.”

This is not Ho’s first brush with international acclaim. In 2003, he received the Special Jury Prize at the Festival of Three Continents in Nantes, France for his first feature film Min.

He made history in 2006 when his movie Rain Dogs became the first Malaysian film to receive a nomination at the Venice International Film Festival.

Then, in 2009, he also picked up the NETPAC Prize for Best Asian Film for his work At The End Of Daybreak at the Locarno International Film Festival in Switzerland.

Ho has also made a name for himself as a notable funny man. His laidback humour is prevalent in local television commercials for companies like TV3 and Proton. However, Ho doesn’t see himself making any comedy films at the moment.

“I don’t think Malaysians need funny movies to make themselves laugh. There is already a lot of comedy in our political scene.”

His next project will see him reuniting with actress Kara Hui, who was his award-winning star in At The End Of Daybreak. Her win included the Taipei Golden Horse award for Best Supporting Actress in 2009.

“I can’t say too much about it now. I’m currently in pre-production for a film about a woman with a past. It’s going to be very dark and violent. Hopefully, we can start shooting in November.”