In Production - 'M-Zone' by Kiran Chitanvis

Locked in a warehouse under construction, women shipped to Singapore from the Philippines and Indonesia wear bright orange uniforms and learn how to be good maids - this is the world of M-Zone. For two of the women, Alma and Maria, friendship is the only tool they have to navigate the hardships of their stifling confines, where they are stripped of their homeland, their individuality, and their power. The story focuses on their last day together in the Singaporean maid training centre before Maria is sent to an employer, leaving Alma to cope on her own. The two best friends release the aggression they have towards Ma'am, the maid training leader, by dressing up as Ma'am and a maid and pretending to execute their revenge on her. Through this ritual, Alma and Maria attempt to come to terms with their inevitable separation, but are unable to stop their spiral into hyperreality. With captivating performances from non-actors Marilon Gacuya and Romalyn Yaranon and Tagalog script translation by acclaimed Filipino director Carlos Siguion-Reyna, the intense relationships and embellished world of M-Zone makes it a small film you won't want to miss.
Jeremy (J): How was the idea for your film conceived? What inspired you?
K (Kiran): For a few years now I have been really intrigued by the premise of Jean Genet's 1947 play "The Maids" and I have wanted to do something related to the issues it deals with, but in a more current scenario. I was talking to a friend one day who mentioned that she used to volunteer with the organization HOME, doing drama with women who came to Singapore to work as maids but then ran away to HOME's shelter after suffering a variety of grievances. Hearing the stories she told me, and remembering sights of maid agencies in places like Bukit Timah Shopping Centre, where women are put on display to be sold like commodities, I realized I could tie together the ideas of "The Maids" with the unfortunate circumstances that face some of the domestic helpers here in Singapore. To gain firsthand knowledge of the issues I was writing about, I began volunteering at HOME, helping the women put together a drama performance for an upcoming presentation they had planned. Through the relationships forged during this time, I continued to hold weekly drama rehearsals. Additionally, I decided that instead of casting actors, I would cast the women of the shelter in my fictionalized story, which was filled with moments from the experiences they told me about.
J: How many short films have you made previously?
K: 5 or so, both fiction and documentary.
J : Where are you from?
K : New Mexico, USA.

J : What are your sources of inspiration for film? Any particular person? trend? style? issue?
K : I am inspired to make film because I believe that there are innumerable social and political issues throughout the world that few people know about. Documentaries may be made about such things, but often those who see them are already interested in the topics at hand. However, there is always a desire for entertainment. If fictional films are made about real issues, perhaps using real people, but with a surreal flare and cinematic visual style, then there is the potential to educate viewers about world issues while they simply enjoy a trip to the movies.

J : What do you find intriguing in Singapore that you would like to feature in your films?
K : The distinct cultural and social relationships that exist between the various groups comprising Singapore's population.
J : Is it difficult shooting in Singapore? Name a few challenges or even peeves.
K : Sometimes communicating exactly what I want and need in a way that is understandable to local businesses and people can be frustrating, but with some patience and creative phrasing, it usually works out.
J: Any feature film ideas in mind currently?
K : I am interested in doing a project related to farmers in the Indian state of Maharashtra and the consequences of genetically modified crops.
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