SINGAPORE: In memory of Theresa Chan, the woman described as the Helen Keller of the East who died from lung cancer earlier this year at the age of 72, filmmaker Eric Khoo has organised a special tribute screening of his 2005 film Be With Me.
Chan inspired and starred in Khoo’s critically acclaimed work, which won several awards and opened the Directors’ Fortnight section at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival. A courageous deaf and blind woman who lost her sight and hearing after a bout of meningitis in her early teens, Chan played herself in Khoo’s tapestry of stories about love, hope and destiny.
Part of the ticketing proceeds of the tribute screening, which will be held at the independent cinema The Projector on Aug 4, will be donated to Society of St Vincent de Paul - a beneficiary which Khoo said was very close to Chan’s heart.
“Theresa Chan wanted her life story to be told and that it would hopefully inspire - to cherish life and never give up,” said director Khoo. “One of her last wishes while at the hospice was to be remembered and that's the reason for this tribute - to honour a remarkable soul and I hope a new audience will be touched by her.”
The Singapore director told Channel NewsAsia that he had many fond memories of the woman who taught at the Singapore School for the Blind until 1990.
“I loved eating and drinking with her - boy could she drink her wine!” Khoo recounted with a laugh.
He remembers meeting Chan for the first time at a wedding dinner.
“I was working on a film about hope during that time, and I watched her during the entire dinner because I found her so inspiring, captivating and full of life!” he said.
“When she discovered I am a filmmaker, she said to me: ‘Make a film about hope.’ I was quite taken aback and immediately asked the guy sitting next to her ask through palm sign language if she would act for me. With that she raised her glass and said: ‘On!’ We toasted and made Be With Me. She is a true gem.”