Singaporean director and screenwriter Jack Neo Chee Keong's latest production Home Run, which opens today in Hong Kong, is the Chinese version of the award-winning Iranian movie Children of Heaven. 'I thought it was a good movie and the story is very good. Because this is an Iranian film, I realised that there were not many people going to see it,' says the director of the well-received I Not Stupid, flanked by five young actors from Home Run at The Marco Polo Gateway Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui. 'So I thought maybe we should have a Chinese version of the movie, at least for the Chinese audience.' Like the original version, the movie revolves around two siblings searching for a pair of missing shoes. However, to make the Chinese version more convincing, it is set in 1965, when Singapore's economy had still not taken off. 'A pair of shoes is not a big deal now, but it was in 1965. At that time, the economy was so poor, losing a pair of shoes was a really big deal,' Neo says. The movie, which grossed more than S$2 million (HK$9 million), is one of 14 entries competing for the Silver Screen Award at the Singapore International Film Festival 2003. It features young actors from I Not Stupid, such as Shawn Lee Chuang Rui (who plays elder brother Chew Kiat Kun), 13, Joshua Ang (rich boy Tan Ming Soon), 14, Huang Po Ju (Chew's buddy, Fatty), 13, Megan Zheng Zhi Yun (Chew's little sister), 10, who was nominated the best newcomer at Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards, and another newcomer, nine-year-old Ashley Leong Mun Chung (Little Red Dot). While I Not Stupid highlights the problems afflicting Singapore's education system, Neo says his latest movie stresses the importance of friendships and never-say-die spirit. 'The pair of shoes is just like something you always look up to - it can be good academic results or a career. You work so hard to reach your goal, but that is not the end; you need to go further and cannot stop. That's why we call this movie Run, Children in Chinese. You have to keep running and running,' says the director. 'The children in the movie never give up even though they face a lot of problems when looking for the shoes. But in the end, the most important thing is they don't give up, but they just help each other.' Shawn says it is hard for them to imagine the deprivations suffered by the characters in the story. 'The movie is set in 1965, when we were not born, so the situation is a little strange to us,' says Shawn, whose relaxed attitude belies his tender years. 'It's quite hard for me to understand the environment, so I discussed the scenes many times with the director.' Shawn, a 400 metres school champion, does a lot of running, sometimes barefoot, in the film. 'All the running scenes are quite unforgettable. It was a very nice experience which I regarded as a kind of training,' the teenager says. So how did the movie inspire the young actors? Po Ju, who is sketching on a word pad and has been silent for the entire interview, answers: 'You need to buy a pair of good shoes, or it will be worn out in the middle of the running.' Instantly, everyone bursts out laughing. So, is that what you will really learn from the film? You better find out yourself.