Sunday, May 29, 2016

Iedil Putra & Interchange

Malaysian actor ledil Putra talks to theSun about his role in the much anticipated film Interchange and his love for acting. Here is the full article. 

Headline: Sticking to His passion 
By Bissme S 

Actor Iedil Putra’s dream of working with award-winning director Dain Said has finally come true. The 32- year-old has a starring role in Dain’s upcoming film, Interchange, a supernatural thriller that will open in cinemas at the end of the year. 
“I loved Bunohan, and I have always wanted to work with [Dain],” says Iedil.  
In Interchange, the actor takes on the role of forensic photographer Adam, who becomes psychologically traumatised after photographing numerous brutal crimes. 
Adam then locks himself in his condominium and spies on his neighbours, taking pictures of them. When the beautiful Iva (played by award-winning Indonesian actress Prisia Nasution), moves into his neighbourhood, a relationship develops between them. Adam soon learns that 
loving Iva can be a dangerous thing when he gets dragged into a dark world filled with blood and gore. 
“I knew I would be in good hands when I accepted the role,” Iedil says of Dain. 
He loves the fact that the director organised a lot of meetings and also conducted rigorous rehearsals with his cast before shooting began. “Dain wants his actors to get into the skin of their characters,” Iedil says. 
“I believe rehearsals are important because the director needs to convey his vision to his actors. Rehearsals also allow the director and the actors to find better ways to present the story to the audience.” 
Iedil adds that Dain loves to use literature as a reference, pointing out that the director’s office is filled with books. He was even asked by Dain to read Albert Camus’ The Stranger to better understand his Adam character. Since his character is from Sabah, Iedil says Dain got a dialogue coach to teach him the Sabahan accent. “A lot of East Malaysian elements can be seen in this film,” he says, adding that this is something we seldom see portray in local films. 
Describing his character, Iedil says: “Adam is filled with angst and is reserved. He is always questioning life. I am nothing like Adam. I am more easy going.” 
Iedil is also excited with the news that Interchange has been picked up by Paris-based distribution company Reel Suspects. 
“I am always jealous to see our neighbouring countries producing good movies that have been widely accepted in international film festivals and international market,” he says. 
“We should be doing the same. At the end of the day, as an actor, I want to be involved in good projects. We should be paying more attention on developing good scripts.” Iedil has been acting professionally since he was nine years old. 
His first attempt at acting was in a stage play, I Remember the Rest House by the late director Syed Alwi. He also appeared in a handful of other plays. But at age 17, Iedil received a scholarship to study medicine in the United Kingdom. 
“I did not want to burden my parents … so I accepted the scholarship. I thought I could take up performing arts as a hobby.” 
But Iedil could not see himself as a doctor “when I am 65”, so he quit his studies and became a full-time actor. 
“My parents were sceptical about my decision, but in the end, they gave me their blessing.” 
Iedil has since delivered some notable performances as an actor such as playing a racist schoolboy in the stage play Parah, and an arrogant actor in the film Terbaik Dari Langit. 
When asked if he has any regrets choosing acting over medicine, he says: “Sometimes the industry can kill your spirit, and there are times I feel jaded being a Malaysian actor. 
“It is difficult to get good scripts and good roles. Sometimes, you have to accept roles that you are not happy with because you have to put food on the table. 
“In some productions, I am given a script just a day before the shoot. Sometimes, the script gets written on the set just hours before shooting begins. How do you expect an actor to get into his character just hours before the shoot? 
“But I am passionate about what I do, and you don’t give up on what you are passionate about. You just stick with it.” 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


Malaysian film makers James Lee,  Gavin Yap  and  Shamaine Othman will be directing a Malaysian feature film that audience can watch for free in YouTube. Read about it in theSun today.

Headline : Creating Zombies
By Bissme S

HISTORY will soon be made when KL24: Zombies becomes the first Malaysian feature film that audiences can watch for free in its entirety on YouTube. 
The project is the brainchild of producer and director James Lee, who has previously uploaded several of his short films on YouTube. 
“My shorts are not as popular as cat and baby videos but still, I am please with the growing number of people who are watching [them],” Lee said. 
“I’m slowly building up an audience for my works on YouTube.” For KL24: Zombies, Lee has roped in fellow directors Gavin Yap and Shamaine Othman to co-direct segments of the film. 
theSun recently caught up with Lee and Shamaine to talk about the film. (Yap was in Singapore for a project.) Lee explained that he has partnered with local crowdbacking platform webe, which is providing funding for the film. The film, budgeted at RM200,000, starts shooting in July and the 90-minute movie will be uploaded on YouTube in September. 
“The most common way for a Malaysian feature film to reach audiences is to showcase at cinemas,” Lee said. 
But the director hopes to change this and find innovative ways to reach a new segment of the local audience. He pointed out that a movie does not remain on screen in the cinema forever as it will be replaced by other films. 
“But a movie uploaded online will likely remain on YouTube,” he says. 
Testing new grounds in the film industry is nothing new for Lee. In early 2000, when films were made using huge cameras, cast and crew, Lee hired a small crew and cast and shot his film using a digital camera instead. He is also one of the pioneers in the Malaysian independent film scene. His film, The Beautiful Washing Machine, won the best Asean feature award and the Fipresci Prize at the Bangkok International Film Festival in 2005. Lee then moved from making independent films to commercial films. However, some of his experiences in the commercial film industry were not pleasant. 
“I was begining to lose myself in the commercial film world,” he recalled. 
“Filmmaking was becoming just another job to me. My passion for it was slowly disappearing. All I wanted to do was to complete the shoot as fast as possible. 
“I felt that the way we tell our stories in commercial films is not progressing.” 
The increasingly-jaded Lee decided to explore other options in order to recapture his excitement for the craft of filmmaking. He went back to the basics of making a film. 
“In the past, I would have 30 people on the set to shoot a scene,” he said. 
Now, Lee has a much smaller crew and cast, and he found the whole experience to be very humbling. 
“It is like, overnight, you are no longer a millionaire,” he said with a laugh. 
However, he did not mind the changes. More important, his passion for making films has returned. His new philosophy extends to the planned schedule for shooting KL24: Zombies alongside Shamaine and Yap. Shooting will take place over 15 days in July, with each director given five days to shoot his or her segment.
 Yap’s segment deals with a dysfunctional Chinese family whose members are trapped together in a condominium with a Malay girl (played by award-winning actress Sharifah Amani), the girlfriend of the eldest son. The entire group must strive to stay alive while waiting for a zombie outbreak to be brought under control. 
In her segment, Shamaine is featuring the story of a rich man who has four wives. When one of the wives becomes a zombie, the other three wives want to kill her. But the husband goes all out to protect her as he loves her the most. 
The 32-year-old director and actress said her segment deals with the issue of polygamy. “I am anti-polygamy,” Shamaine declared. “I believe polygamy is archaic. In the past, it was practised because women could not fend for themselves. These days, women do not need to be rescued.” 
Though Shamaine admitted not being a fan of the zombie genre, she decided to be involved in this project because “I want to step out from my comfort zone and do something that I have never done before”. 
For his segment, Lee is portraying the chaos that takes place in the city centre when the zombie outbreak first begins. A group of humans must band together to try survive the flesh-eating horde. Lee will be featuring famous tourist spots around Kuala Lumpur, including the Petronas Twin Towers and Dataran Merdeka. “Zombie-themed films have always been popular worldwide,” said Lee on his choice of the genre. 
“I am also dealing with racial segregration in Malaysia in this film. Zombie movies are always a form of social commentary on the society we live in.” 

Footnote: KL24: Zombies requires support by members of the public in order to unlock funding from webe. Crowd backing is free, and can be done until June 12 via the webe community mobile app. For more, visit the webe website.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Wan Hanafi Su & Cannes Film Festival

The Malaysian actor Wan Hanafi Su walked at the red carpet at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival recently.  Before catching his flight to Cannes, he spare some time to talk to theSun  
His story was even  blurb at the front page of the sun. 

Here is the full interview   

Headline: Living Out His Dream  
By Bissme S

Veteran actor Wan Hanafi Su was the toast of the Malaysian film fraternity when he walked the red carpet at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival on Monday as one of the stars of Apprentice, directed by Singaporean Boo Junfeng. 
Wan Hanafi was in the French city for the premiere of the film on May 16 under the Un Certain Regard section of the film festival. This section was first introduced in 1978 to showcase films by young talents and to encourage innovative and outstanding works. theSun managed to catch Wan Hanafi for an interview just hours before he left for Cannes. 
“It has always been my dream to have one of my films premiered at Cannes, and I’m happy this dream is finally coming true,” says the 66-year-old actor, who has been in the industry for more than 30 years. 
This made-in-Singapore film centres on a young Malay correctional officer, 28-yearold Aiman (played by Firdaus Rahman), who is transferred to the country’s main prison. At his new workplace, Aiman meets an older sergeant (Wan Hanafi) who is later revealed to be the charismatic Rahim, the long-serving chief executioner of the prison. In his 30-year career, Rahim has hanged more than 600 criminals. 
Rahim also takes notice of the principled and diligent Aiman. When his assistant suddenly quits, he asks Aiman to become his apprentice. Aiman tells his sister, Suhaila (Mastura Ahmad), of his new job, but she becomes upset as their father was actually executed by Rahim. 
Aiman is faced with a dilemma: can he reconcile his conscience and a haunted past to take on the role of the next chief executioner? 
Wan Hanafi explains that he was offered the lead role of Rahim  because the Singapore production team was impressed by his performance in Bunohan. 
In that 2011 film directed by Dain Said, Wan Hanafi plays an ailing man who is losing his mind and is brutally murdered by his son. 
Wan Hanafi says he liked the Apprentice script. “The movie tackles the subject of the death penalty. Subtly, it discusses the issue of whether the death penalty should be abolished or not. 
“The subject matter is unique and interesting. That could [also] have attracted the attention of the Cannes film festival committee.” 
Personally, Wan believes that the death penalty should be abolished. 
“If we kill people, then we are no better than the criminals,” he reasons. 
He says he was impressed by the amount of research and preparation done by director Boo and his team before shooting began. Boo had even arranged for Wan Hanafi to meet and talk to two Singaporean hangmen. 
“I absorbed their experiences and their conflicts into my character,” Wan Hanafi says. 
The trailer of Apprentice looks impressive. Then again, giving impressive performances is nothing new for Wan Hanafi. 
He is known to go to extreme lengths to make his role convincing. For example, in the 2014 Lelaki Harapan Dunia, to portray a character masquerading as an Orang Minyak, Wan Hanafi stripped down to his briefs and smeared black oil all over his body
He says with a smile: “The only role I will not play is lelaki lembut (effeminate man). My wife does not like me to play this kind of role and I do not want to upset her.” He adds that his biggest challenge as a Malaysian actor is not playing a role but getting good scripts and challenging roles. “Most producers are only interested in making commercial movies because they want to make profits,” he laments. 
“Money should not be their only aim to make movies. Don’t they want to make a film where people will remember them many years later?” 
He also points out the lack of good roles for older actors in Malaysia, unlike in Hollywood, where older actors like Morgan Freeman and Meryl Streep still get challenging and meaty roles. “Older actors here are often  sidelined. Most producers want to make commercial films so they hire young actors to draw in the younger audience. “Of course, I feel disappointed and a little bitter about it. But you cannot remain disappointed and bitter forever. Over time, you have no choice but to make the best of your situation.” 
Malaysian director Liew Seng Tat, who directed Wan Hanafi in Lelaki Harapan Dunia, calls him “the most talented actor we have in Malaysia”. Liew adds: “He is like the Robert DeNiro of Malaysia. But he is under- appreciated here. He deserves any success that comes his way.” 
Asked about his chances of winning an award in Cannes, Wan Hanafi laughs. “ Winning the best actor award can be bad for your career if you are a Malaysian actor,” he says. 
“Producers will stay way from you because they think you will be too expensive for them. That was what happened to me when I won some awards. “Let me assure local producers that my fees will remain the same, even after I come back from Cannes.” 
When asked if there is any actor he wants to meet at Cannes, he says with a laugh again: “It will be great if I can be in the same frame with Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro.” 
Both are his all-time favourite actors. Meanwhile, Apprentice has managed to grab the attention of international distributors in Cannes. The film will be shown in France on June 1, and eventually premiere in other countries like Turkey, Mexico, Hong Kong and China.

Scenes from Apprentice 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Mothers in Overseas

I had interviewed three women who have to work in foreign land to give better future to their children. This story was published on May 6 in theSun. Here is the full story  

Headline :All For Love of Their Children 
By Bissme S

Being apart from your flesh and blood is a
painful experience for any mother.
Lhea Nalam, 39, from Clark, Pampanga, in the
Philippines has to endure this misery.
Well-paid jobs were difficult to find in her
country. “I suggested to my husband that he should find a job abroad so we can give a better future to our two children,” she recalls.
Unfortunately, her husband was not too keen to
take the risk of leaving his comfortable home.
So, Lhea decided to act and found a job as a maid in Malaysia. That was in 2005. When she left home to come to Malaysia, her son, Kim Villanueva, was only seven years old then and
her daughter, Jade, a mere 11 months old.
“At the airport, Jade was crying pitifully,” Lhea
“She did not want me to leave her. She was just a toddler who needed her mother’s love.
“Seeing my daughter in tears nearly broke my heart. I was crying throughout my journey to Malaysia.”
Less than a year later, she learned that her husband had abandoned her and their two children for another woman.
Instead of giving up and wasting tears on her
misfortune, she focused her energy on work so that she could build a better future for
her children.
Because her first employer did not allow her to own a handphone, Lhea says she was only allowed to call home and speak to her children for only 15 minutes once a month.
Her first call home was filled with tears. She says:
“I was crying here, and my son was crying on the other end. I missed my son and he missed his mother. We were crying more than talking on
the phone.”
For the last few years, Lhea has been a freelance maid, working for several houses.
“I have the flexibility to call my children anytime I want,” she says.
She is proud that her son Kim, now 18, and her
daughter Jade, now 12, are both doing well in their
The first time she returned home was in 2015, after having been away for 10 years working in Malaysia. 
“When I arrived at the airport in Manila, I recognised my son immediately,” she recalls. 
“I asked my son where his sister was and he pointed to a young girl who was standing next to him. 
“Can you imagine a mother not recognising her own daughter?” 
Endang Setiwati, 48, from Semarang in Indonesia, was in a similar predicament. Nine years ago, her husband left her and she was left to fend for herself and their four children. Seven years ago, she came to Malaysia to work as a freelance maid. “With the better pay, I could offer a better life to my children,” she says. 
“Any mother will be sad when they have to be separated from their children, and I am no different. But when I see my children living a better life, I feel my sacrifice is worth it.”
Endang keeps in touch with her children almost daily through Skype and Facebook. Every year, she returns home to spend at least two 
to four weeks with her family. That is the time she can lavish attention upon her children – Veranda Nilai Sari, now 25, Bobby Yanuar, 18, Brilla Anitya, 14, and nineyear-old Satrio. 
She takes them to the beach, buys them gifts and cooks their favourite dishes. 
“Every Mother’s Day, my children will send me beautiful greetings,” she says. 
Like Endang, 38-year-old Adele Sierra, from Bacolod in the Philippines, was also forced to become the breadwinner after her husband abandoned her and their two children. She came to Malaysia to become a freelance maid in 2009. She recalls having to wait for her daughter, Mary Jane Sierra, then eight, and her son John Ardek, six, to fall asleep before leaving them to catch her flight to Malaysia. She said: “If my children were awake, they would definitely cry when they saw me leaving the house with a big bag. 
“If I had seen their tears, I would not have the heart to leave them. I would definitely have cancelled my plans to work in Malaysia. ” 
Adjusting to her new life in Malaysia was not easy. Adele was crying almost daily because she missed her children so much. She kept telling her employer and her other colleagues that she wanted to catch the next flight home to be back with her children. 
“They told me to persevere because if I were to go home then, how would I be able to feed my children,” she recalls. 
She then resolved to be strong and put her full focus on her job. Looking back now, she is glad she did not give in to her emotions. Now, her teenage children are getting good grades in school, have good food to eat and also a proper roof over their heads. 
“I have to work till they graduate from college,” she says of her future plans. 
For now, she gets to spend every Christmas and New Year with her children in the Philippines before returning to her job in Malaysia. She does not harbour any resentment for not being able to have her children with her all the time. 
“I believe God has given me the courage to carry on with my life after my husband had left me,” she says

Lhea... was crying her eyes out

Endang ... wants to give better future to her children

Adele ... is happy the children is doing well in school