Tawau-born filmmaker makes a name in United States
Published on: Monday, June 22, 2020
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Soon King Yaw’s latest work focuses on creating awareness on the increased discrimination of Asian American community during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kota Kinabalu: A Malaysian-born filmmaker is making a name for himself in the United States with his latest short flick “All I Did Was Smile and Say Hello” being selected as the opening act for the prestigious KQED Homemade Film Festival.

Soon King Yaw’s latest work focuses on creating awareness on the increased discrimination of Asian American community during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I was alarmed by the amount of hate and violence one can inflict on others based on the colour of the skin when the real enemy is the invisible virus.

“As an artist, I try to process the pain by turning it into art, so something beautiful can grow out of the experience,” he said, adding his work needed to reflect his life experiences and the need to spread the message of solidarity.

The short film which was selected out of over 500 submissions has also attracted the attention of Randy Myres, who is a former president of the San Francisco Bay Area Film Critics Circle.

Myers described the film as “soulful and poignant with first-rate animation.”

Soon, a Tawau native, is currently based in San Francisco and is making a name as an up-and-coming filmmaker, having received numerous national and international accolades.

His next project “When I See the Wind” is expected to ready for another film festival next year. It is a collaboration with internationally-acclaimed Chilean cinematographer Andrés Gallegos, whose work was shown at Cannes, Raindance, and Mill Valley.

Soon also dreams of writing and directing a feature film based in Malaysia, adding he was actively drafting his script during the current period of isolation.

“It’s either that or making a music video for Yuna. That would be the ultimate dream come true.

“Yuna’s art transcends national borders and she does that while staying true to her roots. I have so much respect for her and I hope that my art could do the same in the future,” he said.

Before residing in the US, Soon was a digital animation student at The One Academy and later studied cinema at the San Francisco State University.

Soon’s first taste of filmmaking was in 2013 when he directed the music video “Feng Dian” for the 8TV The Ultimate Song Reality-Competition, which won him the Best Music Video award.

Soon’s other work was his first short documentary titled “Something Carved And Real” which tells the story of human scars through the use of watercolour paintings.

The film won the National Best Picture at the 2017 Campus MovieFest, the largest student film competition in the US.

Last year, Soon’s first narrative short film in his mother-tongue “My Mother, Myself & I” was premiered at the Oscar-qualifying film festival, CINEQUEST 2019. The film, however, did not win any award but was acquired for public television broadcast. 


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