Saturday, October 21, 2006

Love conquers all

Malaysian film makers have been making themselves known at various international film fest. A number of them have won awards, with the more prominent being Yasmin Ahmad, James Lee and Amir Muhammad.

The question is, has anyone seen their films? The only notable ones are Sepet and Gubra by Yasmin. The other one, which was banned this year merely because of a sensitive word in Lelaki Komunis Terakhir by Amir.

Even if Yasmin's films were shown and loved by local audiences, other people in higher up places weren't. Or even so-called colleagues in the same industry.

The point I am trying to get is, if no Malaysian is going to support local films, who will? Definitely not the government. The film makers themselves can never dream of relying on the government for funds, unless the movie or script fits nicely into carefully defined and acceptable themes, which are those ubiquitously shown on TV on a Saturday night.

Anyway, I got the news from another blog and the original can be found here.

Malaysian-Chinese director major winner at Busan film festival

BUSAN, South Korea (AP) - A 28-year-old Malaysian-Chinese director was the big winner at the Pusan International Film Festival Friday, bagging an international movie critics' award and sharing the prize for best new Asian filmmaker.

Tan Chui Mui's "Love Conquers All," about a woman confused about her feelings after moving to a city, won the FIPRESCI prize awarded by the International Federation of Film Critics.

She also shared the New Currents award - given to best new Asian filmmaker - with China's Heng Yang, who directed "Betelnut," the story of Chinese youths who spend an aimless summer together.

At a news conference Friday, Oscar-winning Hungarian director Istvan Szabo, chairman of the New Currents jury, praised "Love Conquers All" as "a beautiful film using a known cinematic language but in a very, very nice way."

Szabo said the jury picked "Betelnut" for its "new cinematic value, great acting by all the cast, powerful pictures and beautiful silent moments."

Tan said she will use the US$30,000 cash prize to finance her company, Da Huang Pictures, which also produces movies by other directors.

"This is (a) very important film festival in Asia, and they set up a section for new directors. It's very rare," she said.

Tan said it's difficult to get government funding for Chinese-language films in Malaysia because the authorities there classify only movies that have 70 per cent or more of their script in the ethnic Malay language as Malaysian. Malaysia's population is dominated by ethnic Malays, but Chinese and Indians form significant minorities.

She said her next film will be about two middle-aged women.

"Love Conquers All" was backed by the Hubert Bals Fund of the Rotterdam International Film Festival.

In other awards, the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema named South Korean director Roh Gyeong-tae's "The Last Dining Table" as best Korean feature film. The movie portrays the social isolation of lower-class families.

Meanwhile, festival director Kim Dong-ho announced that festival organizers will run a spinoff event in Los Angeles in spring 2007 that will focus on Korean and Asian films.

Kim also said the festival will set up its own TV channel, just as the Sundance film festival has done, which will air 50 films that have been shown in the Busan festival. In addition, South Korea's JoongAng Broadcasting Corp. will establish a 50 million Korean won (US$52,603) fund that will help Asian documentaries get airtime.

I don't think I need to point out which paragraph that is the most absurd thing to do in a logical and progressive society, but which has become acceptable and entrenched in our society.

Marginalised, anyone?

The sypnosis of the movie is here. The good news it that, it would be shown in Malaysia, most probably in GSC Midvalley and 1 Utama, beginning 21 December.

A love story. At first sight maybe a simple love story. About how blind a girl in love can be. Slowly but unavoidable the story will become less simple, will raise more questions without giving too many answers.

Main character - if not main victim - is Ah Peng (Coral Ong Li Whei). A common girl from Penang. She arrives in some outskirt of Kuala Lumpur to find work in the economy rice stall of her aunt. She is taken in by the family like an older daughter and shares a room with little sister Mei (Leong Jiun Jiun). In a way Mei is the main character - and certainly no victim - of her own love story with a mysterious pen pal. The indolent Ah Peng and the bright and lively Mei get along very well. Like real sisters.

Ah Peng has a boy friend in Penang. Regularly she makes her way to the public phones to make her ritual call. Fate has it that just there she attracts the attention of John (Stephen Chua Jyh Shyan). John shamelessly listens in on the conversations between Ah Peng and her boy friend and right there starts a relationship that has to be doomed. John even tells her - in the same shameless way - how to lure a girl into prostitution. But revealing this can not stop this fatal story.

Although certainly not a period film the movie renders homage to two disappearing tools of communication: the handwritten letters by Mei and the fixed to the ground public phone calls by Ah Peng. Soon this kind of phone booths and letter boxes will form a problem for the movie art departments.

Wishing my dear readers a Happy Deepavali and Selamat Hari Raya. Have a great long weekend, while I have to go back to work on Monday.


thompsonboy said...

not to say tak support but come on la..sepet was crap's just an opinion of a regular movie watching fella. can I do better? nope. all the buzz over nothing. tak kan support for the sake of supporting, right or not?

The Great Swifty said...

It's nice to be supportive of our local independent works, and being a filmmaker myself, I would love all the support I can get :D

However, while it's great to support each other purely for the sake of reaching a wider audiences, everyone has their own opinions of films, and I would rather have that than to see the quality of these films being disregarded and forgiven solely because of where they're from.

To put it more directly, I would rather have someone supporting my films because they are good enough, not just because I'm Malaysian. Otherwise what is there to improve? I'll end up becoming overindulgent, living in a vacuum, incapable of gauging the reactions of my audiences.

Derek said...

thompsonboy: I didn't think it was crap. It was a sweet, simple love story which could do with a better ending.

thegreatswifty: Hello there. ;P

I agree that we shouldn't support for the sake of supporting, but I believe that Malaysians are discerning enough to know which are the better ones. The point that I was trying to make is that those who are trying to make their marks or debuts are not getting enough support from the government.