Joanne hopes to share her deep passion for life and career through this novel-like autobiography. She hopes to inspire a whole new generation of hardworking young people to seize the opportunities that come their way and create wonderful and meaningful lives ahead.
For entertainment guru and founder of Malaysia International Film Festival, Joanne Goh Poi Leng grew up attracted to the glitz and glamour of the entertainment world, just like any ordinary young girl. Although she had no connections to help forge her path, she held on to this dream with a fierce passion.
Then, as she grew up, she put all her focus and strength into making her first success, and first pot of gold, through her premium gifts business. However, this did not quench her thirst. She went on to delve into the entertainment industry, holding and organizing concerts for international artists from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea, both in and outside of Malaysia. With that, Jazzy Group was born and became one of the leaders in the Malaysian entertainment industry. To date in 2020, the company has successfully organized over a hundred concerts, collecting over USD 100 million in revenue.
In 2016, Joanne met with Wen Tien-Hsiang, the CEO of the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival Executive Committee, and was deeply affected by his words. Following that conversation, Joanne gave herself the responsibility of bringing the Malaysian film industry to the next level. In 2017, she successfully organized the first edition of Malaysia International Film Fest (MIFFest) and Malaysia Golden Global Awards (MGGA). This helped put the Malaysian film industry on the map and raised the awareness of local audiences to quality films from around the world.
Since then, she has gone on to organize two more editions of MIFFest and MGGA and has even worked together with other filmmakers to produce and distribute great films in the country. All this was possible because Joanne had always understood that there was more value to films than mere entertainment. Towards the end of 2017, she established Jazzy Pictures, which has since taken part in distributing four Hong Kong films, including John Woo’s Manhunt; and co-produced three local and international films, including One Two Jaga, Fly by Night, and Nina Wu. These three films have garnered local and international recognition and awards, and Nina Wu even received its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. All these achievements show that Jazzy Pictures has successfully made waves in the international film scene.
Joanne is a charming, attractive, and creative lady. She is not only the Chairperson of a film festival but also a film producer and successful entertainment expert. Joanne and I have become close friends since 2016. I stepped down from BIFF in 2017 and founded Gangneung International Film Festival(GIFF) in 2019. It is another new international film festival in South Korea. I am confident that MIFFest will become bigger and better from year to year under the strong leadership, passion, and creative mind of Joanne.
Mr Kim Dong-ho (Founder of Busan International Film Festival, Founder of Gangneung International Film Festival, Honorary President of Malaysia International Film Festival)
Joanne is a very jolly and happy person. I will never forget her warmth and hospitality. She’s one person who makes you feel important and special. I’ve seen how she treats other people and she’s consistent
in that aspect. But what I admire the most is her sincerity. She’s not afraid to ask questions and accept that she’s learning all aspect of how to handle a festival such as MIFFest. I like that kind of attitude to a person.
Mr Brillante Mendoza (Jury President of 2nd Malaysia Golden Global Awards, Cannes Film Festival Best Director)
When I found out that Joanne had no prior experience in the film industry before starting and organizing this film festival on her own, I was mightily impressed. Learning about her initial struggles and challenges, and how she managed to turn disappointment around and slowly gain support from the government and industry players, I couldn’t help but feel inspired by her strength and vision!
Ms Cecilia Yip (Jury of 3rd Malaysia Golden Global Awards, Hong Kong Film Awards Best Actress)
When Joanne told me that she is writing an autobiography, I completely supported it. I hope to learn and understand her inner world and the journeys she has experienced in her life. At the same time, I hope that film enthusiasts and industry players will get to see the passion and the enthusiasm that she has for her work and the industry. The struggles she has been through will most definitely become a form of inspiration and encouragement for many young people out there, so I truly encourage everyone to support this book.
Ms Tavia Yeung (Advisor of 1st Malaysia International Film Festival and Malaysia Golden Global Awards, TVB Best Actress)
Joanne moved on to change her core business and built herself into a person of importance in the entertainment industry. The confidence in her was so great that she even brought K-Pop singers to perform in the USA. Malaysia should be proud that we have a Malaysian bringing foreign artists to perform in a foreign country. It is only with great determination and confidence that one can go that far.
Mr Hoe Chin Wei (My supportive best friend, CEO of Mayshowa Group)
I met Joanne for a shoot in London when I was producing for CNN. I come across many different people on a daily basis. But Joanne was different, she functioned just like me. We’re both hard-working women who just won’t stop until we see the outcome and that is the force you’ll create amongst each other when women support and carry each other, especially in the competitive media field. When times get hard, lean on each other. When you’re sad – share those tears and when the celebratory times bring you together, it’s those experiences you’ll remember for a lifetime.
Ms Elaine Ying Ying Ly (My good friend, International Broadcast Journalist)
One day, she told me that she wanted to organize the first Malaysia International Film Festival and Malaysia Golden Global Awards. When I heard this, I was shocked. I asked her, “Are you sure you can do this?” Because I knew that this would not be an easy path to take. But, of course, thanks to her steely resolve and “never-say-die” attitude, she fully deserves all the achievements she has today.
Ms Charmain Liew (My good friend, CEO of Network 31)
Story by: Joanne Goh
Joanne started her career in the entertainment industry in 1997, she has managed over a hundred concerts and showcases – with combined revenue of almost a hundred million USD in ticket sales. In more recent times, she has taken up new challenges in the film industry and has since worked on many local and international films as an executive producer or a producer. Her passion for entertainment and film hasn’t stopped, however, and in 2016 she founded the Malaysia International Film Festival (MIFFest) and the Malaysian Golden Global Awards (MGGA).
Author: Lim Yi Chiann
I have been in the writing world for more than twenty years, as an editor, reporter, and even a freelance writer, covering a wide range of content. However, this is the first time I have written an autobiography. I am extremely grateful to Joanne Goh for her trust in me. I hope that through the simple and accessible words in this book, I am able to portray Joanne’s wonderful life story and experiences.
I was having breakfast with the founder of Busan International Film Festival, Mr. Kim Dong-ho, one morning last year when he said to me, “Have you ever thought of writing a book about your journey
as founder of MIFFest and MGGA? Don’t you think it’s a good idea to document your journey, and to write it all down for yourself and for those who come after you?”
When I heard this, I almost spilled my coffee. In my mind, an “autobiography” was an important book, written by influential people to share their life experiences with the next generation. But Mr. Kim continued to persuade me, even suggesting that he would be happy to write the book for me! That was when I started to flirt with the idea that perhaps this wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all. And who knows, maybe my journey and experiences really could help motivate the younger generation.
Come January 2020, I embarked on this journey—from planning the entire book, to sourcing for the right author, publisher, designer, photographer, and translator. The first draft was completed around
the end of July, and I immediately got ready for the translation, as well proofreading and typesetting of the book. And in November, Fast Forward with Joanne Goh was finally born.
This book contains stories that extend back to my childhood, how I entered the entrepreneurial world, my first steps into the entertainment industry, and finally my current life in film. As I was writing this
book, I recalled many memories from my past: my childhood dreams of becoming a singer, my teenaged years spent dreaming of becoming a superstar, and my business aspirations during my college days. All
these memories reminded me of how hard I had worked in order to achieve my goals.
I believe that it is important to strive and persevere no matter how impossible the odds may seem. After all, many things in life are achieved after a lot of hard work and struggle. I hope that my readers will be able to gain some insight and inspiration from my stories and learn to appreciate and cherish every opportunity and experience gained in your career, relationships, and friendships. Never give up without putting up a fight.
Nothing is impossible, impossible is nothing.
It is important to keep at it. After all, practice makes perfect. It is only by being consistent that you will finally get the chance to correct past mistakes.
In my 23 years as an entrepreneur, I’ve experienced my fair share of ups and downs, traveling through countless hills and valleys. And I have been fortunate enough to have had the encouragement from my
closest friends and family, and support from various benefactors along the way. However, what was more important was that I had held myself accountable and put in the effort and hard work, which makes the fruits of my labour that much sweeter.
This book contains a record of my experiences and the decisions I have made throughout my journey. I hope that these choices I have made—no matter if they were correct, mature, and lucky, or wrong, amateurish, and unfortunate—can help to provide some sort of guide to the young generation of today. At the same time, I hope that I will one day be able to read this book, look back on this memorable journey, and remember what I had felt when I took those first steps.
Foreword 01 Mr Kim Dong-ho
Foreword 02 Mr Brillante Mendoza
Foreword 03 Ms Cecilia Yip
Foreword 04 Ms Tavia Yeung
Foreword 05 Mr Hoe Chin Wei
Foreword 06 Ms Elaine Ying Ying Ly
Foreword 07 Ms Charmain Liew
Chapter 1 A Kind Word from Her
Chapter 2 Dad vs. My Dreams of Becoming a Star
Chapter 3 The Beginnings of My Entrepreneurial Journey
Chapter 4 My First Company at 23
Chapter 5 Stepping into the Entertainment Industry
Chapter 6 A Chance Encounter with Wen Tien-Hsiang
Chapter 7 The Birth of MIFFest and MGGA
Chapter 8 The Malaysia International Film Festival Suffers Its First Blow
Chapter 9 MIFFest and MGGA is Official
Chapter 10 The Search for Our Ambassador
Chapter 11 The Campaign Never Stops
Chapter 12 Meeting the “Tiger” of Busan Mr. Kim Dong-ho
Chapter 13 Sinje Lee is our MIFFest Ambassador
Chapter 14 The Fates of Films at Film Festival
Chapter 15 Behind the Selection of MGGA Winners
Chapter 16 The MIFFest and MGGA Journey
Chapter 17 “Falling” into the Film Industry
Chapter 18 A Pioneer’s Film Career
A Kind Word from Her
“This has been such an amazing night, but as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. With that, we would like to congratulate all the nominees and winners tonight and thank everyone from our beloved film industry for all your hard work.
As you know, this is the third year running of Malaysia’s only international film festival, together with the Malaysia Golden Global Awards. And we would not have been able to achieve this milestone
here tonight if not for your support.
Thank you again to all of you and your invaluable contribution to the film industry. And to all of you watching here and at home tonight, we wish you good night, and we will see you next year!”
On stage, Owen Yap, our host for the 3rd Malaysia Golden Global Awards was delivering his heartfelt closing speech. Off stage, I was with our nominees, winners, and award jury members, thanking and congratulating each other for a job well done.
Standing in front of me was the founder and former Chairman of Busan International Film Festival, and my forever benefactor, Mr Kim Dong-ho. Looking smart and immaculate as always, he was congratulating Kim Bo-ra for winning the Best Director award.
Actresses Petrina Fung and Cecilia Yip were having a jolly chat about the yesteryears with Sammo Hung.
As I immersed myself in the joyous chatter and laughter around me, Sinje Lee’s voice next to me brought me back to the present. I turned to look at her. Her cherry-red lips curled up slightly as she put her arm around my shoulders and said, “Congratulations, Joanne! We have finally succeeded in holding three consecutive Malaysia Golden Global Awards.”
My heart melted ever so slightly. I could feel my nose tingling and tears welling up in my eyes. “Yes,” I said, “we finally made it to the third year.”
Sinje leaned in to give me a hug, and said, “It’s been tough getting past the initial doubts and misgivings to achieve this level of recognition today. You’ve made it.”
And it has been tough. The path was paved with distrust and hesitation, challenges and frustrations. Not forgetting the emotional and financial pressures. But looking at the magnificently decorated stage, and
the brilliant smiles on the faces of every filmmaker there that night, I knew that this was what I had dreamed of.