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UK indie Argo Films, Malaysia’s Double Vision launch new prodco Sympatico

Espionage thriller Emergency

Fledgling UK indie Argo Films, which was launched by Richard Johns late last year, and Malaysian production company Double Vision have joined forces to launch a new prodco called Sympatico.

Argo Films and Double Vision, which is behind the Asian versions of hit dramas The Bridge and Liar, have signed a coproduction pact for scripted projects and, through Sympatico, will develop and produce film and TV content aimed at breaking stereotypes and integrating the East and the West for global audiences.

Min Lim

Sympatico already has multiple projects in development and plans to go into production on at least two of these this year.

One of the projects is limited series Emergency, an espionage thriller in partnership with Fremantle. Set in a 1951 Malaya battling for independence and inspired by real events, it follows a controversial British SAS commander and a local undercover agent in a Communist unit in a race against time to stop all-out war.

Another series is The Last Kapitan, set in 1920s British colonial Penang when the son of the island’s reigning Kapitan Cina and leader of the island’s Chinese community returns from the dead to exact revenge on the man who wronged him years ago – his father.

Sympatico also has a number of films on its slate, including Malaysian/American hostage movie Cabut, modern-day Western Tudung Girl about a Muslim woman protecting her family from assassins, and a Malaysian remake of Johns’ 1987 cult classic thriller Killing Time.

Richard Johns

Another film is Berjalai, which is based on actual events and centres on two survivors of a Communist ambush during the Malayan Emergency of the 1950s.

Min Lim, head of production at Double Vision and partner in Sympatico, said: “Too often, South-East Asia has been portrayed in a mix of styles on screen with, for example, iconic establishing shots of Kuala Lumpur‘s Twin Towers soon giving way to a location that resembles Vietnam, mixed with Hong Kong by way of Vancouver. And stories set here are frequently told from a Western perspective with ‘white saviour’ characters leading the charge, side-lining local voices.

“Richard and I are equally passionate about authenticity: so, if we have a production set in Malaysia it will be filmed here, and the characters will speak proper Malay. And more importantly, we will have Asian characters as true and equal leads in stories that are as much about them and their country as they are about their Western counterparts. To this end, every title on the Sympatico slate has both South-East Asian and British writers and creatives working closely together to ensure that they will be nothing less than true collaborations.”

Johns added: “Strategically, South-East Asia is certainly a region to watch and well-placed to deliver ‘the next big thing.’ Not only do territories such as Malaysia have their own unique culture, people and locations but it also has an industrious and skilled production sector and a highly competitive film and TV production incentive.”


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