Jesus Henry Christ! It Premiered At Screen Singapore!
In other circumstances, the tagline “Who’s your daddy?” would have sounded most inappropriate. But in the indie movie Jesus Henry Christ that question was indeed the driving factor behind the motivations of the 10-year-old protagonist, a genius child with a videographic memory by the name of Henry Hermin (Jason Spevack).
The comedy is a kooky take on a search for one’s identity with its fair share of quirky characters – mainly Henry’s bohemian mom, Patricia Hermin (Toni Collette), sperm-donor father Dr Slavin O’Hara (Michael Sheen) and sarcastic half-sister Audrey O’Hara (Samantha Weinstein).
Directed by Korean-American Dennis Lee (Fireflies in the Garden), Jesus Henry Christ was one of the movies featured during Screen Singapore as being helmed by Singaporeans. This was in the form of local-born Sukee Chew who was one of the producers of the movie. The movie also boasts of having Julia Roberts as the executive producer.
The media conference for Jesus Henry Christ seemed to be unusually muted, with few reporters asking very pointed questions to Dennis Lee, Sukee Chew and Jason Spevack. Even the host Yasmin remarked that “this must be the easiest press conference for you guys!”
Someone then asked about the degree of Julia Roberts’ involvement in the movie. “Julia is probably one of the best bosses you could work for,” Dennis said. “She trusts in the people she works with.”
Producer Sukee Chee agreed, “She was fantastic. She was the reason we got the financing for this film. She made phone calls, she pushed the financiers. She had a development deal with this production company and she made them pay for production. She believed in us and she believed in Dennis. And she really pushed this boulder up the hill. For that, we are all really grateful.”
L-R Sukee Chew, Jason Spevack, Dennis Lee
Sukee also revealed that the greatest challenge was filming the movie within a working budget. “There were a lot of moving parts and a schedule to meet. We had to find a location which could offer us tax credits so we shot it in Canada. We had to cut two days of filming to meet the budget. Because we were shooting in Toronto, outside of Michael Sheen and Toni Collette, we had to cast locals. Which was great, because we found Jason.” The quietly observant 14-year-old Jason, who had been sitting beside Sukee, gave a chuckle.
When questioned directly about the actual budget, both Dennis and Sukee refused to reveal the actual figures.
In one of the more light-hearted moments during the press conference, Jason confessed that the first scene he had with co-star Samantha Weinstein was the awkward screen kiss.
“It was his first kiss,” Dennis announced, to a round of amused laughter from the press room.
“I was able to befriend all the cast members, so it was great,” Jason said.
“Don’t kiss and tell.” Dennis teased the young actor.
“Yeah,” Jason smiled, blushing slightly.
That night, the trio celebrated the International Premiere of Jesus Henry Christ at the GV Vivocity Cineplex. The movie was part of the special double-bill event together with the other Singapore-made film Where The Road Meets The Sun.
Joining them in celebration at the red carpet were well-known local personalities like Chou En-Lai and Irene Ang. LA-based local actor Ng Chin Han also made it on the red carpet along with baby-faced CSI actor Archie Kao, who graciously stopped to sign autographs and take pictures with his ardent fans.
Before the film was screened, director Dennis suggested to the audience, “Just open your mind, enjoy the ride and have fun.”
Having watched the movie, I thought Jesus Henry Christ was indeed a colourful fun ride. And if you have a similar taste for off-beat dark humour, then do try to catch the movie when it is released at the theatres here.