Charismatic TV chef Martin Yan will soon be transferring his talents to the big screen in a new movie, Hainan Chicken Rice, which will also star Taiwan-born actress and director Sylvia Chang Ai-chia. Described by producer Rosa Li as a dramatic comedy, the film is set to start shooting in Singapore next month. Chang will play a restaurant owner and mother of three in the film, while Yan, the star of gourmet cook show Yan Can Cook, plays a rival chef who is secretly in love with her. 'She's been forced to bring up her three sons alone since her husband left and she's made a living with the only thing she knows - her family's secret recipe for Hainan Chicken Rice,' explains Li. 'Her big problem is that she's worried her youngest son, who is 17 years old, is gay. Her other two sons are already openly gay and she's a traditional woman who worries about gossip and desperately wants grandchildren. So she cooks up a plan with her friendly rival [Yan] to keep her son straight.' The plan involves finding an attractive French exchange student to come and live in the family home. But when the young girl turns up she has a few lessons to teach the older generation about unconditional love and family values. 'The film is a comedy, but it also has a serious message about love within a family and how we should just accept people the way they are,' continues Li. The US$1 million film will be directed by independent filmmaker Kenneth Bi Kwok-chi who is also Li's partner in Hong Kong production company Kenbiroli Films. Like many Hong Kong filmmakers, Bi is something of a multi-tasker. He wrote and directed DV feature, A Small Miracle, in 2000 which was shown at several film festivals around the world, including the Tokyo Filmex and the Deauville Festival of Asian Film. He then went on to serve as story co-creator and assistant director on The Runaway Pistol, directed by Fruit Chan Goh's regular cinematographer Lam Wah-chuen. In the meantime he's directed music videos and composed music for films such as Jeung Ga Jun's Mist and Fruit Chan's The Longest Summer. It was partly through his collaboration with Chan that Bi came up with the idea for Hainan Chicken Rice. 'Fruit had been working on a project in Singapore and noticed that the city had a vibrant gay community but that nobody ever talked about it,' explains Li. 'He suggested to Ken that it might make the basis of an interesting script.' Li has helped put together a mix of Hong Kong and Singapore finance for the film, which is a co-production between Kenbiroli and Singapore production company Ground Glass Images. It's backed by Jackie Chan's new company JCE and has also been selected as the first project to benefit from the Singapore Film Commission's new funding scheme for co-productions. Australian production and sales company Arclight Films is handling international distribution. 'JCE seems really keen to nurture the next generation of Hong Kong filmmakers, which is great news for upcoming talent,' says Li. The film was also the second project to be approved by the Hong Kong government's Film Guarantee Fund - a new scheme which aims to encourage banks to lend money to Hong Kong filmmakers. It secured a loan of HK$4.68 million from HSBC, but in the end the producers decided to finance the film with equity rather than debt. Meanwhile, Ground Glass Images is currently shooting another film - a social satire called Perth - which the Singapore production company's co-founders Juan Foo, Duncan Jepson and Damon Chua are producing solo with backing from the Singapore Film Commission. Singapore actor Lim Kay Tong - who has played a series of small roles in Hollywood films in addition to working in Asia - stars as a taxi driver who is approaching retirement age and harbours dreams of emigrating to Perth in Australia. For the older generation of Singaporeans, Perth has the same allure as Florida has for older Americans. But the old man's plans are thwarted when he discovers his wife has gambled away their savings. While working in a seedy area, he forms a friendship with a troubled young woman who reminds him of his first love in Vietnam. The film, which has been shooting in Singapore since September 5, is written and directed by Djinn, a Singapore-born, Los Angeles-based director, who recently made Singaporean horror film Return to Pontianak.