Tuesday, July 3, 2018


The epic Malaysian movie,  Pulang,  based on three generation in a family will be hitting the cinema in July 26. theSun had carried two interviews on the film. The first one was with the director Kabri Bhatia in 2017  and recently, with the CEO of Primeworks Studios  Ahmad Izham Omar  and the lead actor Remy Ishak 

Oct 9, 2017 ( with Kabir Bhatia) 

Headline: Love Across The Seas 
By Bissme S

DURING my interview with director Kabir Bhatia, he eagerly shows me scenes from his upcoming film Pulang that he has on his smartphone – and I must admit, they are impressive.
One can easily see that Pulang, an RM6 million epic love story that spans three generations from the 1940s to 2010, has a special place in his heart.
"Pulang is based on factual events," explains Kabir, who has previously produced films such as Cinta (2006) and Sepi (2008).
In the 1940s, British merchant ships would stop by Singapore along the trade route, and the captains would hire locals to work onboard the ships, even offering them a chance to work in England.
Many Malay men would leave their families to work on these ships. Unfortunately, some never returned, instead choosing to stay overseas, and start new families.
Blending elements of history and fiction, Kabir tells a story of Othman, an ambitious fisherman who is eager to see the world and provide a better life for his wife, Thom, and their son, Omar.
Othman decides to become a seaman on a British merchant ship, but Thom does not want him to go and begs him to abandon his dream.
Othman promises to return home after making his fortune. Unfortunately, he never did, and a heartbroken Thom continues to pine for him.
The story then shifts to the 1960s, with an older Thom begging a now grown-up Omar to search for his father but it is in vain.The final part takes place in 2010, and the task of finding out what happened to Othman now falls upon their grandson, Ahmad.This time, Ahmad's search for his grandfather leads to a surprising revelation.
"I am not telling the story only [through] Othman's eye," says Kabir."I am also telling the story [through] his son's and his grandson's eyes."
Actor Remy Ishak and newcomer Puteri Aishah Sulaiman star as Othman and Thom in Pulang, which opens early next year.
Others in the cast include Azrel Ismail, Erwin Dawson, Datuk Jalaluddin Hassan, Juliana Evans, and Sherry Al-Jeffri. Most of the scenes were shot in Terengganu. Sets were built in a studio for the dock scenes for Liverpool, Singapore and Hong Kong.
"When you are in a studio, you have better control [over] your environment," says Kabir, adding that he also used CGI for the historical scenes to capture the authentic atmosphere and scenery.
A lot of research was done for the film. One of the books used as a basis for the story was Tim Bunnell's From World City to the World in One City: Liverpool through Malay Lives.
"I was very interested in getting the details right," Kabir says.
Bunnell, an associate professor in the Department of Geography at the National University of Singapore, traced the migration of Malay sailors from Singapore and Malaya who settled in England during the 1950s and 1960s in this book.
For Kabir's next project, he will be directing an English language animated film titled Zak: The Last Orangutan, with plans to distribute the film worldwide.
Set in the exotic jungles of Borneo, Zak is described as a cross between Kung Fu Panda and Indiana Jones.The story revolves around Zak, who is now the world's last living orangutan. Rescued by a family of primatologists as a baby, Zak grows up and becomes best friends with their son, Tom.
When his human family is forced to leave Zak behind, he finds himself on the greatest adventure of his life!
"The best thing about animation is that you can easily go back and correct your mistakes," says Kabir.
"This is my first time directing an animation, and I have always wanted a new challenge." 


July 4, 2018 ( Interview Ahmad Izham Omar, Kabir Bhatia & Remy Ishak)  

Headline :Coming Home atlast 
by Bissme S

A recent private screening of Primeworks Studios’ latest film Pulang has its chief executive officer, Ahmad Izham Omar, and his father, Omar Othman, in tears. The story is something very close to their hearts.
“Pulang is inspired by my grandfather’s life,” explains the 49-year-old Ahmad, who says his grandfather, Othman Alias, was a
poor fisherman from Malacca.
Determined to give a better life to his wife and son, he took up a job as a sailor on a British merchant ship and sailed around
the world. Though Othman promised to return home, he never did.
“My father was only 11 years old when his father left,” recalls Ahmad, who co-wrote the screenplay with screenwriter
Mira Mustaffa (Nur kasih: The Movie, Anak Merdeka).
“But my father never stopped loving my grandfather. He never stopped telling me stories about my grandfather.”
Ahmad says his father managed to track down his grandfather in England, in the city of Liverpool, in the 1960s.
Unfortunately, he failed to bring Othman back to Malaysia. In 2008, the then 39-year-old Ahmad decided to track down
his grandfather, as he wanted to know why Othman never returned home.
Also, as Ahmad says, “when you get older, you want to get close to your roots, your heritage and your family”.
So did he meet his grandfather? Did he find the answers he was looking for?
With a laugh, Ahmad says: “You have to watch the film to get the answers.”
Actor Remy Ishak plays Ahmad’s grandfather Othman, while popular TV actor Azrel Ismail makes his film debut as
Ahmad’s father, Omar. Playing Ahmad himself is Singapore-born actor Erwin Dawson.
Directed by Kabir Bhatia and made with a budget of RM6 million, Pulang will hit cinemas nationwide on July 26. The film is set in various locations including Malacca, Hong Kong, Okinawa, Jeju Island and Liverpool.
When asked what was his biggest challenge bringing the story to the big screen, Kabir says: “The film spans from
the 1940s to 2010, and I have to make sure I am historically correct, especially with the setting.”
Kabir and his team looked at pictures from 1940s, and used CGI (computer generated imagery) to recreate the settings.
Some quarters have labelled
Pulang as Ahmad’s ‘syok sendiri’ (vanity) project, and accused him of abusing his power to get the film made.
But Ahmad dismissed the notion. “This is not just my story,” he says. 
“This is a story about our country, too. I am telling a part of our history that has been forgotten.”
While researching the past for this story, he learned that in the 40s, many Malay men left their families behind to work as
seamen on merchant ships plying the oceans.
“The captains of these merchant ships liked hiring Malays because they made better seamen,” Ahmad says.
“I wanted to show that our ancestors had travelled and seen the world ... and it is about time for us to be proud of them.”
His research included reading Tim Bunnell’s book, From World City to the World in One City: Liverpool
through Malay Lives. Bunnell, an associate professor in the Department of Geography at the National University of Singapore, traced the migration of Malay sailors from Singapore and Malaya who settled in England during the 1950s and 60s.
On the message of the film, Ahmad says: “Life may give you interesting adventures. But your adventures means nothing
if you have no family to come home to.”
Lead actor Remy (above) also believes the film highlights the importance ofm family. The actor confessed that he
initially had a hostile relationship with his own father.
“I came from a broken family,” he says. 
“My parents divorced when I was 13. My father was an army man, and he was very strict with me. I
did not like him. I was distant from him.”
Remy was totally captivated by the script and the depictions of the relationship between a father and his son, and the relationship between a grandfather and grandson, touched his heart. It eventually pushed Remy to reconcile with his own estranged father, and now both father and son share a warm relationship.
“Sometimes, a good script can make you a better man,” Remy says.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Ramli Ibrahim ( Father's Day & Hari Raya)

Since father days is near ( June 17 ) and Hari Raya tomorrow, the iconic dancer Ramli Ibrahim speaks to theSun about serving pasta to his Raya guests and visiting his wet market to his father 

Headline: A Nostalgic Celebration  
By Bissme S

THIS year, Father’s Day falls on the third day of Hari Raya Aidilfitri (Sunday). As Malaysia’s acclaimed dancer Ramli Ibrahim, like Muslims everywhere, prepares to welcome the month of Syawal, he pauses to reminisce about his late father, Ibrahim Mohd Amin.
“My father passed away in 1987 from colon cancer. He was 71,” recalls Ramli, who was then attached to a professional dance company in Sydney, Australia.
“I left the dance company and returned home to look after him and I am glad that I did.”
The 65-year-old dance icon admits that he was closer to his mum than his dad, but he loved his dad just the same.
“My father was quiet, subdued and always calm and collected.
He was the total opposite of my mother, who was more of a drama queen.
“I inherited my mother’s emotional traits, but I think I also inherited my father’s wellproportioned physique. He was
outstanding in sport, and was a golf champion. Our cupboards were full of his trophies.”
Ramli notes that his dad was strict with his brothers, but not his sisters. As the youngest of six children, by the time he was born,
his father had mellowed with age. 
“He never scolded me,” says Ramli, but adds it might be because he always came first in his class, scoring all As in his
exams, and even managed to get into the prestigious Royal Military College.
Ramli recalls one time when his dad was serving as an neducation inspector and came to conduct checks at his school
(Pasar Road Malay School). Ramli was then in Standard One.
“He walked into my class and as the class monitor, I promptly stood up and commanded my class to stand while singing
out: ‘Selamat pagi, ayah’ (Good morning, father), instead of ‘cikgu’ (teacher)!”
Ramli also has his dad to thank\ for his love and fascination for the hikayats (old Malay literature) such as Malim Deman, Pendawa Lima, and Panca Tantra. His dad was a lecturer at the Specialist Teacher Training Institute (STTI) in Cheras, and
specialised in Malay literature.
“He also exposed me to the works of Zaaba, the father of Malay literature. I used to read them in Jawi. I was fascinated by
the stories I read.”
His dad, Ibrahim, was a graduate of Maktab Perguruan Sultan Idris (now Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris) in Tanjung Malim, which counts among its alumni, freedom fighters who fought against the Japanese and for independence, as well as distinguished artists such as Yeoh Jin Leng, Tuan Syed Ahmad Jamal, and many more.
Ramli’s father never shared  any stories from the war, although his mum once told him his dad had been beaten by Japanese
soldiers, which left scars on his back.
“My father kept in touch with most of his friends and whenever we visited Singapore, Malacca and other places, we would visit
them and there would be a great get-together,” recalls Ramli, adding that once his dad brought Ramli’s sketches and drawings to
show to the dashing Tuan Syed.
Ramli also fondly recalls the times he followed his father to the market in the early mornings.
“The Sentul wet market was my favourite haunt, and the Pudu market was the goriest. [In those days], one could find a motley of
exotic animals – from pythons, monitor lizards to baby mice.
“Due to this exposure, wet markets are always the first place I visit whenever I am in a foreign place, whether it is in Chennai
(India) or Kota Baru (Malaysia).”
Come Hari Raya, his dad always prepared lemang, which he cooked in the oven instead of on an open fire. His dad would
cut the buluh (bamboo) to smaller pieces to put in the oven.
Ramli says his dad’s ingenious way of cooking lemang was not only convenient, but also cut down on smoke. As for him, he started his own tradition of serving pasta and salads to his siblings who visit him on the second day of Raya.
“They enjoy what I serve because they get tired of the usual ketupat and lemang they get everywhere, and want to eat
something different.”
As Ramli prepares for his Raya celebration, he joins theSun in wishing all readers Selamat Hari Raya, Happy Father’s Day, and a
wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Pen Ek Ratanaruang

theSun published my interview with the well known director Pen Ek Ratanaruang from Thailand 

Headline : Going a Different Direction 
By Bissme S 

PEN-EK RATANARUANG may not be a familiar name here, but he is a well-known film director and screenwriter back home in Thailand. His films have garnered rave reviews at many prestigious international film festivals. But while Ratanaruang may be respected by his countrymen, the same can’t be said for his movies.
“They have never accepted my films,” says the 56-year-old, who was in Kuala Lumpur recently to promote his latest film, Samui Song.
He admits that it hurts when his fellow Thais give negative comments about his films.
“I have always regretted that. But all of us have regrets over something. I do not have to be happy all the time.”
To be honest, his films take some getting used to as they are difficult to understand, and have been called eccentric, and even mind-boggling. Watching one of his films is like trying to solve a puzzle.
Ratanaruang has toyed with the idea of presenting his films in a more conventional manner many times, so that the audience back home would love them.
“I really want to give them what they want to see,” he says. “But it is not easy. It takes a special skill to do that, and I do not have that skill.
“When you make a film, a lot of it comes from your character. The first thing I do whenever I write a script is to ask myself: ‘How will other people direct these scenes?’ – and then, I do the opposite.”
He simply cannot bring himself to change his directing style, or his rebellious nature.
“Once you are a thief, you are always a thief, and you cannot become a policeman,” he adds.
“So if you cannot become good, then you should try to be as bad as you can possibly be.”
On the surface, his latest film, Samui Song, appears to be a simple crime drama. The film is about a soap opera actress Viyada Beaufoy (played by Cherman Boonyasak) who feels trapped in an unhappy marriage to rich foreigner Jerome Beaufoy (St├ęphane Sednaoui). She then makes the decision to break away from her husband, including hiring a stranger to kill him. 
The idea for the story came to Ratanaruang when he was out shopping one day, and bumped into a famous Thai actress with her European husband.
“I was drawn to them,” he recalls. “They looked perfect together. She was beautiful and he was dignified. I followed them without their knowledge. I was curious to see what they were buying ...
“Eventually, we paid for our items and went our separate ways.”
Over the next few days, he could not forget about the perfect couple.
“I was swimming and I remember the moment I finished my swim, I was ready for the wife to kill her husband,” he adds.
Despite the simple premise, Ratanaruang stays true to form, inserting so many layers into this thriller that the audience is left wondering if the murder even took place, or whether the actress imagined the murder.When asked to explain what really happens in the film, the director refuses, preferring to let the audience make their own conclusion.
“I know I may sound arrogant for not wanting to explain my films,” he says. “But I am not.
“To be honest, sometimes I do not even understand everything that takes place in my films!”
Ratanaruang loves focusing on unhappy relationships in most of his works. While he insists he is happily in love with his girlfriend, Ratanaruang admits: “If I did not have unhappy relationships, I could not write about them.
“I have many friends and colleague who confide in me. I do not know why they tell me their secrets, but they do.
“Some of them want to cheat on their spouses. I have not seen a truly happy relationship.
“Things can always change. When you enter into a new relationship, you always tell yourself that you will not repeat the mistakes you make in your past relationship. But, you always make new mistakes.”

Friday, April 6, 2018


After more than 10 years gap, Astro Shaw has decided to show Dain Said's Dukun to the Malaysians 

Headline: Spellbound by Woman In Red  
By Bissme S 

Film production house Astro Shaw is trying extremely hard to rewrite the history of its film, Dukun.
When the film was shot in 2006, it was said to be loosely based on the real-life crime of Maznah Ismail, better known as Mona Fandey, a pop singer-turned-witch doctor (dukun), who was arrested in 1993 for butchering a high-profile client.
After a sensational trial that rocked the nation, the 45-year-old Mona was found guilty and executed on Nov 2, 2001.
Dukun, which miraculously survived the censorship board's
vetting with only five audio edits, was supposed to hit cinema screens in 2007.
But for some strange reason, Astro Shaw decided not to release the film to the public.
Now, after nearly 11 years, Astro Shaw is finally showing Dukun in cinemas nationwide. It premiered yesterday.
The film now comes with a different tagline to reflect the lengthy wait: 'Akhirnya Kita Bertemu' (At last we meet).
Its original tagline was 'Saya Takkan Mati' (I will not die), allegedly based on Mona's final words before she was executed.
But the tagline is not the only thing that has been changed about the film.
"Dukun is not about Mona Fandey," insists Astro Shaw head Najwa Abu Bakar, when met at the press screening for the film.
"Dukun is a story about a father who goes all out to find his missing teenage daughter, including dabbling in black magic, and suffers terrible consequences for choosing the wrong path."
It appears Astro Shaw is hoping people will forget about the initial buzz surrounding the film. But some history cannot be easily erased. It will be hard for the public to stop relating Dukun to the story of Mona.
Umie Aida, who portrays the film's titular character, must certainly be happy that audiences can finally see her performance, said at the time to be her best ever.
However, she was careful not to make any reference to Mona when talking to the press.
Umie insists that she did not base her portrayal of her character on any female witch doctor, either living or dead.
To get into the skin of her character, Umie says she kept a python as a pet for two months. She observed the snake intensely and adopted its personality as part of her character.
"The python even slept in the same bed with me, and I am scared of snakes," she says with a laugh.
Once the shoot was over, she didn't keep the python any more.
When told audiences may say that she is, in fact, playing a character based on Mona, Umie replies with a smile: "People are free to make any kind of speculations. But I have based my character solely upon a snake's characteristic."
This staunch denial of a Mona Fandey link is echoed by everyone associated with the production.
"We are not back-pedalling," Astro Shaw's Najwa says. "The audience is entitled to have their opinion, and I respect their opinion. But If you watch this film, you will know we are not telling Mona Fandey's story."
Coming to Najwa's rescue is the film's director, Dain Said, who explains that memories of the case are still strong among Malaysians even today, and naturally, "any film that has a murder linked with black magic will be always be associated with the Mona Fandey case".
He pointed out that before her case, there were many other murders with elements of black magic.
Dain adds, jokingly: "If you want to say Dukun is Mona Fandey's story, it is your choice. But at night, she might come to visit you."
When asked why Astro Shaw decided to release the film after more than decade, the reasons given are vague.
"When I first saw the film, I felt it is a film that we will be proud to show the Malaysian audience," Najwa says. "In Astro Shaw, we are committed to telling good stories. We want to be an Asian hub of feature filmmaking."
Najwa says that films from neighbouring countries like Thailand and Indonesia have their own unique voices, but Malaysian films are lacking in this, which makes it a challenge to sell local films to the international market.
She feels Dukun stands a good chance to attract foreign buyers.
When asked what was the biggest challenge to bring the film to cinemas, she says: "Dukun was shot in film print in 2006, and we had to go through digital mastering to make sure the sound and the colouring match today's standard. Digital mastering is not something you can do overnight."
But then again, digital mastering does not take 11 years.
Reflecting on this, Dain said: "There is a woman in this film [who] wants a child badly, and she cannot have one. I am like her. I [could not] have my baby."
But unlike the woman who never stops her obsession about having a child, Dain has learned to move on, and worked on other film projects.
"I have heard all kinds of stories about why my film never got released in 2007," he says.
"I could write a thick book about it. Some even told me that they have seen my film gathering dust in some vault.
"Of course, I have my own theory as to why my film was not shown. If I reveal my theory, it will be like tuduhan (accusation). It will be fake news."
Right now, he is happy the film has finally reached audiences, because back then, his actors worked hard to portray their characters. At least now, their performances will get the appreciation they deserve.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Raymond Tan

theSun interviews Raymond Tan, who has just directed a movie about children and chinese opera 

Headline: The Love Of Theatre 
By Bissme S 

ONE OF the films opening in cinemas today, The Wayang Kids focuses on five primary school students who are training hard to enter an international Chinese opera performance.
The main protagonist is a young boy named Open, who is on the autism spectrum. He must prove to his classmates and himself that he has what it takes to be on stage.
Recently the film under produced by Brainchild Pictures was showed at a screening for the Malaysian media. The 90-minute film touched our hearts, thanks to the performances of the five child actors from different cultural backgrounds.
Austin Chong stars as the film’s protagonist Open, and his classmates are played by Mukesh Raghavan, Muhamad Mikail, Kaitlyn Ong, and Lorena Gibb.
To find the right cast, film director Raymond Tan, 44, visited over 20 schools and auditioned nearly 500 students.
“None of the kids had acting experiences before,” says Tan.
Tan gave the children two months of intensive training before facing the camera. They were given some lessons in acting and Chinese opera, where they learn how to somersault and back-flip. A few were given additional training to brush up their Mandarin, as the film is mostly in that dialect.
“I always tell them ‘whatever you do, never memorise your lines,” he says.
“Nobody will pay to see you reciting your lines.”
His child actors were given the freedom to interpret their characters so their performance would be more natural. Tan said the last thing he wanted was for his young actors to give ‘adult-like performances’.
“I want them to be kids,” he says.
It had always been his childhood dream to be a film maker. Tan, who was born in Pulau Tikus, Penang says: “I was exposed to films when I was six years old.
My father was manager for a cinema and I got the chance to see many films for free.”
“I wanted to be a filmmaker [and] make films to entertain people [in return]."
Unfortunately, it took him many years to become a filmmaker.
“I grew up in an era where we encourage to be doctors, lawyers and engineers,” he says.
Tan in fact became an engineer, and in 2000, he moved to Singapore to work there. But he could not forget his dream.
In 2009, he decided to take the risk, and left his engineering job to focus on turning his childhood dream into a reality.
“It is never easy to leave stable paying job,” he says.
“I suffered many sleepless nights.”
He started making experimental short films. One of his works, called Wa For Wayang, centres around a young Indian boy who loses a bet and as a forfeit, must learn Chinese Opera. Slowly he falls in love with the craft that was initially alien to him.
This 30-minute short film became an instant hit and showed in many international international film festivals.
In 2014, used it as the basis for his first feature film called Wayang Boy, making minor changes to the plot.
In 2015, the film was recognised as the Best Foreign Comedy Feature in International Family Film Festival in United States. The Wayang Kids is his second feature film.
Asked why both films feature Chinese Opera as a centrepiece, Tan explains: “When I was young, my grandmother often to took me see the Chinese opera that was performed on the street.
“I realised the younger generation is not aware that such performances exist, and I want my film to expose them to this heritage.”
Both films also feature children as the main characters.
“When I started my film career, I was told the two things I should avoid were directing animals and children.
“Directing children is five time harder than directing adults,” he says.
“But if you direct children, you will experience something unique, pure and special. It is always interesting to uncover unpolished gems.”
The other common factor in his films is the topic of racial harmony.
He explains: “When I was a young boy, my friends from different races.
"Skin colour was never an issue.”
But in recent years, he feels that there have been tensions between the communities.
“Perhaps we should imitate children, and not let our skin colours keep us apart,” he says.
His optimism has led to some criticism that his films are “too sweet”.
“I like my audience to leave the cinema with hope, and hope is not bad thing,” Tan says.
“There is always a light at the end of the tunnel.”
The next film he will be directing will have a story that focuses on a group of teenagers, followed by an animated film with a plot that touches on family values.
“That will be my first attempt at animation,” he says.

Fazleena Hishamuddin

Author Fazleena Hishamuddin speaks to theSun about her third book Tari Pasar Perempuan. 

Headline: Femininity redefined
By Bissme S

FAZLEENA Hishamuddin loves exploring women's issues in her writing, which has led some to assume she is a feminist who hates men.
The 39-year-old author and actress laughs on hearing that.
"Just because I write about a woman's strength does not mean I hate men," she says, adding that women's stories need to be told.
"A woman's voice should be heard in our literature. Why can't a woman write about her breasts? Why can't a woman write about her mother who cooks in the kitchen? Why can't a woman write about an uneducated woman who is living in an isolated island?
"Nobody has the right to stop a woman from expressing herself."
While some women authors project an aggressive, angry tone in telling their stories, Fazleena prefers to let her message comes across subtly in her writing.
"I am a 'graceful' feminist," she explains with a huge laugh.
Her first book, a collection of her poems, came out in 2012, under the eyebrow-raising title of Seksi Ovari. Two years later, she released Bibir Ceri Melati, featuring more poems and some short stories.
This weekend, Fazleena will be launching her third book, Tari Pasar Perempuan. This is a collection of short stories, all focusing on a range of women, from a six-year-old girl to a grandmother.
Some of the stories are told from a man's viewpoint but the central figure is always a woman.
There is also a touch of bitterness and darkness in her stories. Not all her female characters succeed in their struggles for a better life.
"They get defeated," Fazleena elaborates. "But my characters learn to pick up the pieces and carry on with their life."
Tari Pasar Perempuan has one interesting feature that distinguishes it from Fazleena's other books.
"After nearly finishing it, I felt something was lacking in my manuscript," she says. That's when she had the idea of adding illustrations in the book.
After a long search, she finally found a young illustrator named Yani Mahmud on social media.
"Her drawings had [elements of] 'kejahatan', 'kenakalan' and 'kehitaman' (evil, naughtiness, and darkness)," she says, adding that they will complement her stories.
"I did not interfere too much in her creative process and I want her to interpret my stories through her drawings," Fazleena adds.
Explaining the metaphor behind the book title, she says: "In a market, you always find buyers and sellers constantly negotiating. The buyers are looking for a good bargain, and the sellers are looking to make a good profit.
"Life is no different from this metaphor. In life, we are always negotiating to get what we want. Life is like one big market!"
The short story from which the book's title is taken is set in an actual market, the famous Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah in Kelantan, which is run mostly by women.
This wet market was named after Prophet Muhammad's wife, who was known for her entrepreneurial skills.
The story centres on a young woman who performs the Malay traditional dance of Mak Yong in front of her mother's stall.
Mak Yong is banned in Kelantan, as the authorities feel this dance form goes against Islamic teachings. The young woman is arrested, and the women in the market decide to rescue her at all costs.
Fazleena says: "The irony is that Mak Yong can be performed in any place in the world, except the place where the dance originated."
Tari Pasar  Perempuan will be launched this Saturday at Publika Solaris Dutamas at noon. Fazleena will be on hand to autograph the book which will be on sale at RM20 (soft cover), and RM50 (hardcover).
So what's next for the author?
Fazleena says she is currently working on her first full-fledged novel, which touches on the world of counselling – a subject she knows very well.
Fazleena not only has a degree in Malay literature, but also a master in psychology, specialising in counselling.
She was a counsellor for two years, during which she also pursued a fairly successful acting career on stage, and in scriptwriting, before turning to novel writing.
"I have been told that for your first novel, you should always write what you know," she explains. "And I know something about the world of counselling."

Monday, March 26, 2018

Edmund Yeo & Aqerat

The award winning film maker Edmund Yeo speaks to theSun about his film Aqerat that deals with human trafficking and rohingya refugee  

Headline: The Shocking Truth
By Bissme S

PRODUCER, director and writer Edmund Yeo can certainly give himself a big pat on the back. Last year, he became the first Malaysian filmmaker to win the best director award at the prestigious 30th Tokyo International Film Festival for his film Aqerat, which deals with the dark side of human trafficking, and his lead actress, Daphne Low, also took home the Tokyo Gemstone Award. 
Aqerat was recently shown at the second Malaysian International Film Festival in Kuala Lumpur. The story centres on a young Malaysian woman named Hui Ling (Low) who is saving up to start a new life in Taiwan. But her roommate steals her money and disappears. 
Desperate, she joins a gang dealing with the trafficking of Rohingya refugees fleeing persecution in Myanmar. But when she sees the atrocities the gang inflicts on the refugees, the guilt takes a toll on her. The painful tone of the film, and Low’s powerful performance, will touch your heart and consume your soul. 
“I [like to] make films about my country and what is happening around me,” says Yeo who also wrote the screenplay for Aqerat. Back in 2015, Yeo was among the millions of Malaysians who were horrified at the discovery of a mass grave near the northern border, filled with the remains of over 100 Rohingya refugees.
 “In the past, we only read about Malaysians being victims of human traffickers,” says the 34-year-old. 
“But now, Malaysians are the bad guys. I was curious what motivated these traffickers to commit such cruel acts against 
other human beings.” 
To get a true picture of the situation, he talked to Rohingyan refugees and several non-profit organisations dealing with them. What he learned shocked him. He found out that there were ordinary folk who had turned to human trafficking just to earn some extra money. When he read an article about a kindergarten teacher who was arrested for human trafficking, he almost made his lead a kindergarten teacher. Aqerat will open in local cinemas at the end of the year. 
Yeo has always wanted to be a filmmaker, and it’s no wonder he fell in love with the arts. His father is a film critic for a Chinese newspaper and a former executive of a recording company, while his mother was a pop singer. 
He says his parents never stopped him from becoming a filmmaker, though his mother did try to change his mind. 
“Now, my motivation is to make good films and not disappoint my parents,” he adds. 
Yeo started by directing short films, some of which were shown at international film festivals, and even won awards. His first feature film, River of Exploding Durians, was also nominated at the Tokyo International Film Festival in 2014. 
The majority of Yeo’s lead characters are female. 
“[It’s] because I prefer working with actresses more than actors,” he jokes, but adds that 
“I prefer if there is a distance between my lead character and me”. He explains that if his lead character is male, he may project himself on the actor. 
“I might get too attached to my lead.” 
Using a female lead gives him the flexibility to explore possibilities. Currently, he is editing his third film, Malu, about two sisters who were separated since young.
 “I am exploring the family dynamic in this film.” 
This might very well be another award-winning film in the making.