By Fathin Ungku
“Crazy Rich Asians” celebrated its Asian premiere in Singapore on Tuesday night, with local-born stars such as Fiona Xie delighted to be bringing the film home to the city where it was filmed
“I’m so looking forward for every Singaporean to watch this because Singapore is so beautiful on screen. Everybody (in Hollywood) was like, is this CGI? Does this place really exist?,” Xie, who plays gold digging opera star Kitty Pong, told reporters.
“This is a homecoming!” she said.
The film, the first Hollywood movie in 25 years with an all-Asian cast, is a rare Hollywood showcase of Asian identity and culture, which the filmmakers hope will be enjoyed by moviegoers of all backgrounds.
The romantic comedy about an Asian-American New Yorker who goes to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s wealthy and tradition-bound family of Chinese descent is based on the 2013 best-selling book of the same name by Kevin Kwan.
The Warner Bros film directed by Jon M. Chu, launched above expectations, garnering $34 million in just five days.
The film, with a mostly eastern Asian cast, has drawn criticism for not representing Singapore’s multi-ethnic society
“The film is set in Singapore, where 15 percent of the population are Malay and 7.4 percent are Indian, and none of them are represented in the film except as the background help,” said activist and journalist Kirsten Han on Twitter.
However, others saw it as an opportunity to tell other diverse Singapore stories.
“This movie is going to open more doors for us to tell the world more Singapore stories,” 19 year-old university student, Andrea Raeburn told Reuters at the premiere.
The film’s producer, John Penotti also shared similar sentiments:”We hope this starts a very long-running trend celebrating Asian-focused films that play around the world, that’s exactly the hope for the portrayal of Asians, that’s exactly what is starting to happen. There are many more stories, this is just one,” he said.
(Reporting by Fathin Ungku; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)