JC Chee (middle) along with (L-R) Saran Kumar, Luqman Hafidz, Marianne Tan and Bront Palarae.
From the director who gave us the touching award winning film "The Journey", comes another equally touching and worthy of an award film, "OlaBola", a multi-lingual Malaysian film that portrays the true spirit of being a Malaysian, with football as the backdrop because it is the one game that can truly unite all Malaysians.
Featuring an array of fresh-faced cast, the film follows a team of local footballers in the 80s as they struggle to overcome personal and collective hardships as a team while trying to gain a place at the Asian Games.
During the premiere of "OlaBola" at GSC Berjaya Times Square last Monday, 11 January 2016, the film received two huge rounds of applause from the audiences.
Cinema Online who was also present at the event got to talk to one of the actors of the film, Chee Jun Cherng, better known as JC Chee, who is one of the main cast of film.
Not exactly a newbie in the industry, Chee has acted in several local Chinese dramas and also the crime comedy movie, "When Geek Meets Serial Killer".
However, this is the 29-year-old's second big production feature length film and his first ever Malay movie.
The whole football team cast along with director Chiu Keng Guan (red cap).
How do you feel after watching "OlaBola" for the first time?
It was very touching. I cried four times watching this film!
How do you feel about your own acting?
I think I'll probably give it a 60 out of 100!
Why? Do you have any dissatisfactions with your acting?
It's not that I'm dissatisfied. It was bearable because of the great direction from our director. Almost all of the scenes are beautifully shot because the director is a perfectionist. So he would want all of the scenes to be beautiful.
Since all of you are considerably new in the movie industry, who do you think has the best acting skills?
There're actually two people. One is Saran Kumar who plays Muthu, and the other is Lim Jian Wen who plays Ong Tiam Cai. Before we started filming, all of us were given one and half month of acting classes. And at that time, I already saw their skills and talent as an actor.
The three main cast of the movie.
Did you get hurt during filming?
No, I didn't get hurt during filming but a lot of the other cast did. However, I did get hurt before filming, which was during the training period. I even got into the hospital. I did an x-ray and found out that it was a sprain.
Do you have any prior experience playing football?
I used to play football in high school. A lot of my Chinese friends play basketball but I'm probably one of the few Chinese that play football.
Nowadays, there aren't a lot of Chinese actors whom are able to speak fluent Malay. So, do you think you'd want to act in more Malay-speaking films in the future?
If given the chance, I would love to. But I probably need to improve my Bahasa Malaysia because I'm not very confident with my formal Malay. The one that I speak now is more of the northern Malay dialects! [laughs]
So if you receive offers to act in more Malay films, would you do it?
If the film requires me to use the northern dialects, then I would definitely go for it!
The director and the cast during the "OlaBola" press conference.
Are you choosy when it comes to acting, or are you okay with any film genres that's on the table?
I'm definitely not choosy! I would grab all of the chance given to me. But, of course, it is up to my management too.
How is it working with director Chiu Keng Guan?
This is my first time working with a box office hit director, so I felt like "I need to do my best here, I better not embarrass myself!" [laughs] But I can tell you that I did my best in this film.
How did you get this role?
I went for casting three times. The first time was in December 2014. And that time it was quite late because I think the casting had already started in early 2014 or late 2013. So after casting, I saw that the director wasn't there. So I thought that I might not get the role after all. Then, they called me for a second audition. This time, they wanted me to speak in five languages – English, Hokkien, Cantonese, Mandarin and Malay. I've never done something like this before, so I tried my best. Again, the director wasn't there. After that, I was called for the third time. And this time, I had to go down the field and play some football. It has been quite some time since I actually played football, so I was a bit rusty. But this time, the director was there. After a month, I was called for football training session as well as an acting class – which meant that I was finally chosen!
Do you think that with this film, you can go further in the film industry?
I hope so! I hope that this film can go international so that everyone can see how great it is! Because this film is not just about football, it is about Malaysia! And I also hope that this film can be an inspiration for the current national football team.
"OlaBola" comes to cinemas this 28 January 2016.
Cinema Online, 19 January 2016