KUALA LUMPUR – Astro Shaw and its partners HBO Asia and FINAS have announced that filming has commenced for Tan Twan Eng’s award winning novel, The Garden of Evening Mists in various locations in Malaysia including the scenic landscapes of Cameron Highland’s famed tea plantations.


Taiwanese award-winning filmmaker and director Tom Lin will direct The Garden of Evening Mists, alongside a star-studded cast including Lee Sinje, Hiroshi Abe, John Hannah, David Oakes, Serene Lim and Tan Kheng Hua.


Malaysian actress Lee Sinje and Taiwanese actress-director-producer Sylvia Chang play the leading role of Teoh Yun Ling in the 1950s and the 1980s respectively. Prominent Japanese actor Hiroshi Abe will take on the role of Nakamura Aritomo, the exiled Japanese gardener with whom Yun Ling is romantically involved.


British actors David Oakes (The White Queen, Victoria) and Julian Sands (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) portray Frederik Gemmell in the 1950s and the 1980s, while John Hannah (Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Mummy trilogy) will play Magnus Gemmell. Up-and-coming Malaysian actress Serene Lim (Think Big Big) plays Teoh Yun Hong, Yun Ling’s sister.


Najwa Abu Bakar, Head of Astro Shaw said: “The film will feature a stellar international cast and crew, including Malaysian talents in key acting and production roles. Over two-thirds of the cast and crew are made up of Malaysians, signalling Astro’s commitment to nurturing local talents for international exposure. We are also privileged to work with talents of diverse backgrounds from Taiwan, Japan, India and Australia to showcase Malaysia’s unique voice through Tan Twan Eng’s award winning novel.”


“The lyrical and beautiful story captivates its readers with the mesmerising beauty of Malaya after World War II, and we are confident that the vivid adaptation will resonate among Asian audiences and beyond, due to many similarities in shared culture, language and history,” he added.


Jessica Kam, Senior Vice President, HBO Asia Original Productions, HBO Asia said: “HBO Asia is committed to ramping up its slate of original productions which includes both TV series as well as high quality films. We are thrilled to partner with Astro Shaw to produce this extraordinary feature film with a Malaysian soul by world class film professionals, and to showcase it to our audience on our digital, linear and on-demand platforms across 23 territories in Asia and beyond.”


The Garden of Evening Mists is graced by a team of acclaimed industry experts such as Scottish BAFTA-winning screenwriter Richard Smith, renowned cinematographer Kartik Vijay (Manto) and celebrated production designer Penny Tsai (See You Tomorrow).


Also joining in are costume designer Nina Edwards who is also known for her work in The Great Gatsby, Wolverine and The Matrix, and makeup and hair designer Nikki Gooley, who won BAFTA and Saturn awards for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and received Oscar and Saturn nominations for Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith.


Set in dual timelines of the 1950s and the 1980s, the central narrative of the film focuses on Yun Ling played by Chang. As she narrates her story, the audience is taken through a series of flashbacks of Yun Ling (Lee) as she recollects her post-war life in the 1950s.


She is haunted by past events such as Yun Hong’s (Lim) passing, as well as her own relationship with the Japanese gardener Aritomo (Abe) who helps her build a garden in memory of her sister. The movie is slated for a theatrical world premiere in 2019.