The Tiger Factory screening today in Directors Fortnight is being sold by Greenlight Pictures. It is a coproduction between Malaysia and Japan and involves the hopes and aspirations of the working classes and immigrants from an Asian perspective.
Ping Ping is 19 and wants to go to Japan to work in a car parts company. She’s under the guardianship of her aunt, Madame Tien, who shuffles her between two jobs – working in a pig farm, and cleaning dishes in a rundown restaurant. Tien is also involved in a ‘baby factory’ scheme, pairing young women with migrant workers and then selling the babies for money. Both survive with each other in a love-hate symbiotic manner, until a truth about her aunt is revealed to Ping Ping.
The director, Woo Ming Jin, was born in 1976 in Malaysia. His idea for the film began when he read an article in a local newspaper about a “baby factory” which was operated by a middle-aged woman who recruited foreigners as her “carriers”. With his awareness of the influx of Burmese workers into Malaysia, the story began to take shape. His work as a filmmaker and photographer has garnered him a reputation as one of East Asia’s most promising talent. His films mostly focus on the interaction between human and nature. This one is his most urban as it takes place in a pig farm not the countryside itself.
His first film Monday Morning Glory screened in Berlin and Locarno, while his second, The Elephant and the Sea, won awards in Torino, Seoul and Spain festivals. Woman on Fire Looks for Water, played at Venice and Rotterdam, among other festivals.