Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Terbalik



The Malaysian movie Terbalik is set for Hollywood remake. The creators behind the film, Bea Tanaka and Yasu Tanaka speaks to theSun what sparks the idea for Terbalik and working together 

Headline : Flipped Over Success 
By Bissme S

MALAYSIAN film producer Bea Tanaka and her Japanese film director husband,Yasu Tanaka,  have done the local film industry proud.
The couple, both 50, are the founders of production house 42nd Pictures, which produced last year’s critically-acclaimed psychological thriller Nota. The film won the best screenplay award for Yasu at the 2016 Malaysian Film Festival.
Now, Yasu’s latest screenplay, for horror-thriller Terbalik, has captured the attention of Hollywood production company Ivanhoe Pictures. Ivanhoe Pictures has purchased the remake rights to the film in a deal estimatedto be between RM12 million to RM16 million (although the Tanakas have yet to receive anycash from the sale).
This is the first time one of their scripts (written by Yasu in English and translated into Bahasa Malaysia by Bea) has attracted international attention.
Ivanhoe Pictures has previously partnered with other Asian production houses to produce several notable films including South Korean horror film The Wailing, and Crazy Rich Asians based on
Singaporean novelist Kevin Kwan’s book of the same name. 
The Malaysian version of Terbalik will begin filming early next year, while the Hollywood version is expected to shoot at the end of 2018.
Terbalik centres on an actor, played by award-winning Bront Palarae, who is trapped upside-down in his car after an accident deep in a forest. A group of boys find him, and instead of rescuing him, the boys torture him and film the act on their smartphones, which they plan to release on the internet.
Most of the scenes show the point-of-view of the actor trapped upside-down in the car.
The idea for Terbalik hit Yasu while he was watching TV at home one night.
“I was wondering what if the visuals on the television were upside down?,” he recalls.
“It would [certainly] make a good story to see things from an upside-down perspective. I just needed to find a suitable setting for the situation.”
Bea believes the script attracted attention because it could be adapted anywhere.
“You could easily make the film in China with Chinese actors, and in France with French actors,” she adds.
Terbalik’s plot sounds similar to the 1990 Stephen King thriller Misery, featuring an author (James Caan) rescued from a car wreck by a crazed fan (Kathy Bates), who proceeds to torture him in order to force him to write another novel.
However, the Tanakas believe that their film bears more similarities to two other 2010 films – the Ryan Reynolds starrer Buried, and the James Franco-starrer 127 Hours.
“[Like them], Terbalik has a ‘one character, one location’ concept,” Yasu explains.
In fact, about three-quarters of the film will be shot around the ‘car wreck’, which will be located in an area around Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) in Bangi.
The Tanakas have also hired a prop maker to create the car wreck where leading man Bront will be positioned upside down. Medically, it will be dangerous for Bront to be upside down for a long time, so the car seat is rigged in such a way that Bront can easily be turned the right side up again.
They have tested the rig and the Tanakas are happy with the results, but a medical team will be standing by on set, just in case.
The local production is estimated to cost RM2 million and the Tanakas are now in the midst of finding sponsors for it. Terbalik marks the culmination of a dream by Yasu, who admits he wrote the script with the idea of attracting the attention of international production houses.
“The reality of this dream will only hit me when I see the remake,” he adds.
Yasu has wanted to be a filmmaker ever since he was captivated at age 10 by the sounds and visuals of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
He went to America to study filmmaking at age 20, earning a film degree from the California State University. When he could not get any directing jobs in Hollywood, he took up script writing, and
teaching others how to write scripts, adding that you need to be adaptable in this business.
He eventually focused on teaching scriptwriting in the US, his native Japan and Malaysia. Starting 42nd Pictures in 2010 with his wife allowed Yasu to finally realise his dream of becoming a filmmaker.
Yasu and Bea are already looking forward to their next film – a family comedy featuring an actor trying to to save an ice-skating rink from being demolished.
The sport of ice skating has special significance for the couple. Yasu was once a professional ice skater who performed for Disney on Ice, a career that took him around the world, including Malaysia.
It was in 2004 that Yasu met Bea, then a teacher for the deaf, who had come to watch a show he was performing in. A relationship developed between them and the couple, married in 2007.
The two admit that working together is never easy.
“Sometimes I feel like killing her, and she feels like killing me,” Yasu jokes.
Bea adds: “You will never know when the working relationship ends, and [your roles as] husband and wife begins.”
Ironically, both Nota and Terbalik feature characters who are having marital troubles.
“In our third film, my lead character will have an unhappy marriage, too,” Yasu says, cheekily

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Hassan Muthalib & Merdeka


Aug 31, tomorrow, Malaysia will be 60. theSun got a  film scholar and best selling author Malaysian Cinema in a Bottle  to select 10 films and documentary that showcase  the history of our country.   

Headline: Capturing The Malaysian Spirit  
By Bissme S

Tomorrow we will be  celebrating our 60th  Independence Day.  In honour of this  momentous event, we asked  Hassan Muthalib, the renowned film scholar and author of  Malaysian Cinema in a Bottle to  pick 10 local films and  documentaries that showcase our  Malaysian spirit. Below are his selections and  why they are a reflection of our  independence:

*MERDEKA MISSION
Year:  1956 
Director:  Unknown

Hassan says this 26-minute  documentary, produced by Malayan Film (the precursor of  Filem Negara), looks at how Malaysia’s first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman negotiated  our independence from the British. 
“There are so many meanings  behind the images in this  documentary. The editor did a  great job putting them together. There were many closeup shots of Tunku and these gave the  impression that he was well received by the British. 
“There’s also an image of Tunku sitting at the same table with [the  British] having dinner. That shot is enough to tell us that we are now equal to the colonials.  
“When Tunku returned home  from his London meeting, he  received a garland from his  supporters. The garland tells you  that the non-Malays [also  supported] him. 
“He was driven around in an  open-hood car with thousands  (lining] both sides of the road to  welcome him. [He received] a 
hero’s welcome for getting our  Merdeka.”
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*PENDEKAR BUJANG LAPOK 
Year: 1959 
Director: P. Ramlee 

Made two years after our  Independence, Hassan says this Ramlee classic asked the pivotal question: Are we really 
independent?
“At that time, a lot of Malays could not read and write. Subtlely,  with a touch of humour, Ramlee  shows that our colonial mentality has not disappeared, and that  education is going to liberate us.” 
---------------------------------------------------------------------

*SENIMAN BUJANG  LAPOK 
Year: 1961 
Director:  P. Ramlee 

Hassan says Ramlee, who had never gone to film school, cleverly  used film subtext to tell his stories.
“In this movie, Ramlee shows  how the mentality of successful Malays has not changed even even  after Independence. They are so  status conscious that they look  down on the working class Malays. 
“Also, women are bold in his  films. You see Saloma’s character in  this film giving her lover money,  and you have Normadiah’s 
character daringly expressing her  love for a man." 
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*SEMAN 
Year: 1987 
Director:  Mansor Puteh 

Hassan says this is a modernist feature that tells the story of a young man who wants to write  better scripts and create better 
movies. But his films are not accepted,  so he gives up. This, to me, is an  expression of how director Mansor feels that trying to be a better filmmaker in Malaysia is an uphill  task that gets you nowhere.
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* LELAKI KOMUNIS TERAKHIR 
Year: 2006 
Director: Amir Muhammad 

This documentary was earlier  cleared for screening but eventually was banned after questions were raised why the communists should be highlighted in a film. Hassan explains that the communists were the first to fight for independence as they wanted  the British out of the country and to stop exploiting our economy. 
“Amir focuses on Chin Peng, the  leader of the Malayan Communist Party. He traced the place where Chin Peng was born to the last place he [went] into hiding.  Hassan says Amir told the story through interviews he had with the people at these places who knew about Chin Peng, the communists, and their daily life. 
“Indirectly, one gets the impression that the people, especially the youngsters, have forgotten about the communists.”
-----------------------------------------------------------------------


*1957: HATI MALAYA 
Year: 2007 
Director: Shuhaimi Baba 

This film, says Hassan, is told from the perspective of a group of young people who want to produce a book 
on the country’s independence.    
“Today, some people say that we were never colonised in the first place but if we were never colonised, where does the word Merdeka’ come from?”
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

* BUDAK KELANTAN
Year: 2008 
Director: Wan Azli Wan Yusof 

Hassan says in this film, the director questions how Malay youths have lost their way. It looks at two youths from Kelantan who come to Kuala Lumpur and end up involved in gangsterism. They kidnap women  and sell them into prostitution. 
“The film was shot with a hand-held camera. The shaky scenes  show the world is full of tension.”
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*29 FEBRUARI
Year: 2012 
Director:  Edry Abdul Halim 

Hassan says this fantasy story, about a man who only grows old every four years, allows us to see 
the history of our country through the character’s eyes.  
“The visual effects are fantastic. Archive images from the past are well used in the film.”
------------------------------------------------------------------------

*ROAD TO NATIONHOOD 
Year: 2016
Director: Ahmad Yazid 

This documentary film traces Malaysia’s formation, using archive footage that has never been broadcast on television, says 
Hassan.
“It uses cutting-edge visual effects to highlight events leading up to Merdeka and eventually, to the birth of Malaysia.”
----------------------------------------------------------------------------



* OLA BOLA  
Year: 2016 
Director:  Chiu Keng Guan

Based loosely on the true efforts of the Malaysian national football team which successfully qualified for the 1980 Summer Olympics, this movie highlights the rekindling of the Malaysian spirit. 
Hassan says: “The director shows a TV journalist who wants to leave the country, but in the end, she did not go. The film also shows how a sporting event can make us forget our differences and come together as Malaysians." 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

M. Indira Gandhi & Norhayati Kaprawi

I interviewed Norhayat Kaprawi who is doing a documentary on M Indira Ghandhi, a mother who has been cruelly separated from her daughter. Read the full story below 

Headline: An Inconsolable Loss 
By Bissme S

THE DOCUMENTARY, Dairi Untuk Prasana, captures the suffering of a mother who has been cruelly separated from her daughter. The mother in the 45-minute documentary is M. Indira Gandhi.
When her former husband converted to Islam in 2009, he took away their daughter Prasana, who was then only 11 months old. He later applied to unilaterally convert all three of his children with Indira to Islam, setting off a custody battle that has seen Indira travelling from High Court to Federal Court in order to get her youngest child back. Sadly, Indira’s efforts have been in vain. While she successfully regained custody of her two oldest children – Tevi Darsiny, now 20, and Karan Dinish, 19 – she has not set eyes on Prasana, now aged nine, in seven years.
 “Her story is tragic,” says Datuk Mohd Zaid Ibrahim, a prominent lawyer-turnedpolitician who is also the producer of the documentary, who adds that our legal system has not given her justice.
Zaid feels that everyone is passing the buck around, and that the politicians are afraid to make firm decisions.
 “Our country has failed her, and this is very depressing.”
Some parties feel that giving Prasana back to Indira would meant a setback for Islam. “How can Islam be compromised if you give justice to a mother?” Zaid asked.
“Some Muslims feel [that] if they side with the mother, then they are siding with a nonMuslim. But just imagine if this were to happen to you ... what would you do?
“Some [only care] that the daughter has become a Muslim. But she cannot see her mother. It is never easy to grow up without a mother. Kindness has always been the central principle of Islam, and that’s the reason Islam spread fast in the early days. “Unfortunately, Islam (in our country) has become dogmatic.”
Last year, Zaid hired documentary maker Norhayati Kaprawi to tell Indira’s story. Norhayati is an activist who is fond of promoting female equality in her documentaries. Some of her works included Mencari Kartika which is about a Muslim woman sentenced to six lashes of the rotan for consuming alcohol; Aku Siapa?, which deals with the issue of wearing a veil in Malaysia; and Ulama Perempuan which highlights female Islamic scholars in Indonesia.
For Dairi Untuk Prasana, Norhayati takes a more intimate approach, showing how a family has been torn apart, and how lives are jeopardised by what has transpired.
“My documentary is about the human [aspect of this] story,” she says.
“No religion [should] separate a mother from her child.”
She has tremendous respect for Indira, adding that “she has never taught her two [older] children to hate their father”.
Norhayati points out that Indira has said that should she finally meet Prasana, she will not force Prasana to convert to Hinduism.

“She understands Prasana’s circumstance, and she believes religion is not something you can force on another person, even if she is your child.
“All Indira wants is to see her daughter. I am humbled by her big heart.”
Norhayati also interviewed Prasana’s two older siblings, as well as Prasana’s grandmother. She says: “Indira has done a good job in raising mature children.”
Norhayati recalls how Tevi described the moment her father grabbed Prasana from her arms and disappeared.
“Tevi felt responsible for what had happened, and could not stop feeling guilty,” Norhayati says.
Meanwhile, Karan believes everything can be resolved amicably if both parties sit down and discuss things calmly.
Norhayati adds: “[Prasana’s] grandmother is a humorous person, and the audience will love her. Her [biggest] wish is to see Prasana before she dies.”


Footnote : Dairi Untuk Prasana will be shown at the Freedom FilmFest (FFF) on Sept 9 at 6pm at PJ Live Arts in Petaling Jaya.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Amanda Nell Eu & Venice International Film Festival


Malaysian Amanda Nell Eu is happy that her  short film Lagi Senang Jaga Sekandang Lembu  competing at the prestigious Venice International Film Festival. She spoke to theSun about her feelings and read the full interview below   

Headline: Making A First  
By Bissme S

Amanda Nell Eu  has  created history by  becoming the first Malaysian female   director to have her work shown  at the Venice International Film  Festival. 
Her 18-minute Bahasa Malaysia short, Lagi Senang Jaga Sekandang Lembu has  been selected for the Orizzonti  Short Films Competition at the  oldest prestigious film festival  that was founded in 1932.  Eu plans to leave for the  Italian city on Aug 30 and will  return home after the festival  ends on Sept 9. Her short will be shown on Sept 7.
“I have no idea what to expect from the festival,” says the 31-year-old Kuala Lumpur- born lass. 
“I have never been to  anything as big as this.” 
What is definite is that she  will take the opportunity to  watch a lot of films that will be  screened at the festival. 
“I believe that watching  other people’s works will help me grow as a filmmaker,” says 
Eu who is also a film lecturer and a freelance scriptwriter.  Lagi Senang Jaga Sekandang Lembu is the third short that  she has directed. The story,  which deals with friendship and mysticism, takes place in a  remote village. Outcast teenager Rahmah 
(played by Sharifah Aryana  Syed Zainal Rashid) becomes  friendly with a girl sporting  long hair (Sofia Sabri). Rahmah later discovers that the girl is a pontianak (vampire). Will Rahmah  abandon her new best friend? 
Eu describes her Rahmah  character as a shy, quiet and  reserved person while the girl  with long hair (the pontianak)  has a wild side and loves climbing trees.  When asked which character  best represents her, Eu says: “I  can be both. There are times 
when I can be quiet, and other times, I can be wild.  There is a lot of me in this short film. I have  bared my soul here.” 
Eu enjoys listening to local mystical  stories, and of  all the mystical  characters she  loves, the best is  the pontianak. 
“She is beautiful and gentle yet she  can rip you apart,”  says the director. 
“Personally, I believe there is a pontianak in  every woman.” 
Her story bears some  similarities to the famous  Swedish horror film,  Let the  Right One In (later remade  into the Hollywood movie, Let  Me In, starring Chloë Grace Moretz). Let the Right One In deals  with an awkward teenager who becomes friendly with his new neighbour. Later, the boy  discovers the girl is a vampire  and their friendship is tested.Eu is not insulted by the  comparison, saying that she  loves the Swedish version of the  film but not the Hollywood version.  She insists, however, that her short  is entirely different compared to  Let the Right One In. 
Eu says she has her own style of directing. One of the  ways she gets her actors into  character is to give them a  series of music that they should  listen to before the camera  begins rolling, as she finds  that music indirectly helps the  actors get under the skin of their characters.
She loves working with  her actors, and states that her  audition process is also unique. 
“I will show the actors my script but I will never ask them  to recite the lines,” she says. 
“Instead, I will end up asking  the actors a series of questions  about themselves and how they  would relate to the characters 
that they had read.” 
Eu admits to  having a major flaw  as a filmmaker:  she cannot decide  which scenes to  retain and which 
scenes to cut. 
“I am terrible in  editing my films,”  she says. 
“I cannot be ruthless with my work. I know I  need to master  the art of  editing.” 
Eu never  thought of making  films as  her career. Instead,  she took  up a  degree course in  graphics and  design in 
London where she had been living and studying since she  was sent to a boarding school there at age 10.  But she remembered 
stepping into a video store  in London when she was a  teenager and being fascinated by a series of black-and- white 1920s films the owner  introduced to her. 
Those films attracted her to watch more films, especially  those of the horror genre.   Her fascination with videos  and films was evident in all her assignments she did for her  graphics and design course, so much so that her lecturer told her she should be pursuing films instead. 
She took up her lecturer’s advice and graduated with a  master’s degree in filmmaking  from the London  Film School before 
returning home for good six years ago.Eu loves to explore the female psyche within the context of Southeast Asia in her short 
films. Currently, she is working on her first feature film. 
“It is a big jump from making  shorts to a feature film and I do not want to rush into it,” she says. 
“I know many people  who started their film directing  career late in their life. But age should not matter in this 
profession.” 
She admits the stories she  loves to tell are not commercial  types and getting finance for her projects is going to be difficult. 
But she is not ready to change her style yet. 
“I know the journey is going to be difficult but it will be worthwhile,” she adds.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

TOYBANK


Shweta Chari from India has set up an organization that donates toys,  board games and have play sessions with under privilege children . She talks about her organization to theSun. Read the full interview here

Headline: Strictly All About Child's Play
By Bissme S

Playing with toys is one of the joys of childhood. Unfortunately, not every child will be able to have a toy of his or her own, especially those living in poverty. One woman, Shweta Chari, is slowly changing this situation in her native India, through her non-profit organisation Toybank. 
Besides donating toys and educational board games to underprivileged children, Toybank has also set up ‘toy libraries’ where Shweta and her volunteers conduct play sessions with the children. 
“[The sessions are] with children [who live] below the poverty line,” says Shweta, 35, when met recently in Kuala Lumpur. 
“Most of these children do not know where their next meal is coming from.” 
It all began in 2004 in Mumbai, when Shweta, an engineering graduate, volunteered to teach mathematics to underprivileged children.
“They were not happy to see me,” Shweta recalls. 
“They were not that friendly. And they were not paying attention to what I was teaching. I felt so frustrated that I could not connect with the children.”  
Shweta decided to change her strategy, and attempted to build up some trust with the children. She picked up some toys and board games, and brought along some of her posters and music CDs to the class. “I used these objects to organise play activities with the children.”
Slowly, the children began to laugh and to have fun. Eventually, they let their guard down and began telling her their life stories.  
“I thought the children were orphans,” she says. 
“But I was wrong. I learned they were runaways. They ran away from their small villages and came to  Mumbai to escape from poverty. Once they arrived in Mumbai, they learned that city life can be harsh too.” 
Seeing how toys and board games brought joy to these children, she decided to donate more of these items to other non-profit organisations. Some of her friends decided to help out, and began donating money for her mission. Eventually, with the help of volunteers, Shweta began organising toy library play sessions for children in disadvantaged communities. Sessions would take place twice a month at each centre.So far, Toybank has over 300 centres all over India, and has worked with some 35,000 children so far. 
“Some of the children clung to their toys as if they were Oscar awards,” she says. 
“They did not want to play with their toys because they did not want [them] to be damaged.”
She learned that the language of play is an important factor in a child’s development. 
“Play is a character-building process,” she says. 
“It teaches children to make better life choices and handle conflicts effectively.” 
She points out that some of the children had been abused, and had lost their self-confidence. But Toybank’s play sessions managed to bring them out of their shell. She recalls one of Toybank’s 
projects  working with a group of children who lived around a rubbish dump. 
“These children were sniffing glue and once they got high, they became delirious and violent,” she says.     
"We engaged these kids in our play sessions. We told [them] that they would not be allowed to participate in the play session if they sniffed glue.  Six months later, we noticed the children were less violent, and none of them went back to sniffing glue again.”
Shweta believes that children are like clay, and they need to be guided and moulded. She feels that Toybank’s play sessions are one way to do this.  
She hopes to reach out to 500,000 children through her non-profit organisation in the next five years. But, she adds, as the toys and board games get worn out, they constantly need new ones to replace them. However, she laments the fact that it is hard to get donations from corporate companies to buy toys. 
“These companies will tell me that they can’t give me money ‘so that you can play with children’,”she says, adding that many of them prefer to help non-profit organisations whose aim is to end 
hunger and provide education to underprivilege children.   
But she says: “With hunger, most of us can see a child being malnourished physically. But what many cannot see is a child being malnourished mentally. 
“Our play sessions create strong children. It is easier to [build] strong children than to repair a broken ones.”

For more, visit the Toybank website.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

BOU & Child Brides




I have interviewed Mahi Ramakrishnan who just completed a documentary on child brides among the Rohingya refugees. Get theSun today ( Wednesday Aug 9)  Here is the full story 

Headline: Innoncence Lost
By Bissme S

Malaysian journalist Mahi Ramakrishnan has, in the past two years, highlighted the plight of the Rohingyas from Myanmar who were forced to flee their homeland due to intense civil unrest and ethnic
oppression, and ended up as refugees on foreign shores.
Her two documentaries, Seeds of Hatred (2015) and Bodies for Sale (2016), explored the issues faced by these refugees both in Myanmar and in their new ‘homes’. 

This year, Mahi – who had worked for Time magazine and AlJazeera – has come out with BOU a documentary that tackles the heart-rending subject of child brides among the Rohingya refugees.  
“Bou means bride in the Rohingya language,” says Mahi, who took two years to complete the documentary.
“Some Rohingya men will hire traffickers to find child brides for them, and these traffickers will go back to Myanmar and convince parents to give up their daughters, [promising them] a better life in a foreign land.”
Unfortunately, a better life is the last thing these young brides will find. The traffickers torture them sexually and physically, before selling them to Rohingya men for RM7,000 each. The traffickers always target girls from the ages of 11 to 16. 

For BOU, Mahi interviewed three child brides, two men who had taken child brides as their wives, and also a trafficker, to get different sides to the story.  The stories the child brides told her were of unimaginable horrors.The first girl she interviewed
became a child bride at the age 11.
“Some 60 traffickers had raped her before she was sold to a Rohingya man to be his wife,” says Mahi. “Her nightmare did not end there. Her husband kept abusing her. She had no choicebut to run away from [him].” 
The second child bride was abused by her husband each time she asked for money to buy milk for their only child, while the third was abandoned by her husband soon after giving birth to their first child.  
“These women are illiterate,” says Mahi.
“They can’t speak any other language except for their mother tongue. So they are in a vulnerable position, and have a tough time surviving.”
She added that she also interviewed two men with child brides to hear their side of the story and to know what motivated them to get child brides. 
“These men believe they are doing a favour to these girls because they are rescuing them from the misery in their home country and giving them a better life.”
She also talked to a trafficker to gain an insight on the trade. Mahi says while the authorities have taken strict measures to control the refugee problem, traffickers are getting more creative. She claims they are using flights from Bangladesh to bring child brides into the country. And they are charging more for each bride, as much as RM16,000 per bride.
While some quarters argue that child marriages should be legalised to reduce unwanted pregnancies among the youth, Mahi disagrees.
“If you want young people to behave responsibly towards sex, marriage is not the answer. Society, parents, and schools should take the trouble to teach youngsters about sex, and about the responsibilities involved.”
BOU will be shown this Sunday at The Refugee Fest:Inclusion for a Better Worldevent, which takes place at Black Box, Publika, in Kuala Lumpur, from tomorrow till Sunday. 

The Refugee Fest, which premiered last year, is Mahi’s brainchild. During this four-day event, there will be activities geared to
help members of the public better understand the plight of refugees.
Among the activities are a theatre performance by a group of Syrian children, and a poetry recital by refugees in their own language.
“These poems will be translated in English,” says Mahi, adding that the festival will give refugees “a platform to channel their grievances, their disappointments, and their dreams.”
“This festival is a place where their voice will be heard.”
As to calls for nations to close their borders to refugees, including from US President Donald Trump, Mahi says:  

“Trump has no authority to turn his back on refugees. What irks me is when a person who has power, wealth and fame migrates to our country,it is perfectly fine and nobody has issue with that. But these refugees have no choice. They have to abandon their homeland. If they continue living in their homeland, they would end up dead.   Frankly speaking, we need to remove the labels we have attached to [people], and look at these refugees as human beings who are fleeing prosecution. And they need our help."

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Jason Chong & Kau Takdirku





Bring  a box of tissues with you when you watch Jason Chong’s first attempt at directing a romantic drama.  Kau Takdirku is a love triangle that promises to make you weep.
Opening in cinemas on Sept 7, the film centres on Kamar (played by Remy Ishak), who is secretly in love with Alya (Ezzaty Abdullah). Unfortunately, she regards Kamar only as her good friend. In fact, she is in love with Remy’s best friend Harris (Bront Palarae), who is a diving instructor.
Eventually, Harris and Alya get married, leaving Kamar heartbroken. But as fate would have it, Harris is lost at sea, and is presumed dead.
Alya has a hard time accepting his death. To bring some stability into her life, Kamar marries her.  The new couple raise a child together, until one day, they learn that Harris is still alive. Now, Alya has to choose between the two men who love her.
“It is a beautiful love story that is engaging, and will make the audience question what choice they will make if they are in Alya’s situation,” says Chong.
“I certainly [would] not want to be in her situation.”
This is the first time the 43-year-old director is helming a love story. His first effort was the thriller Belukar while his subsequent projects were of different genres: a monster movie, and a horror film.

Chong has high praises for the cast of his latest film, adding that they were a joy to work with.
“This is Ezzaty’s first feature film,” says Chong.
“She has to play a wife who has lost her husband, and also [play] a mother. But she is young and has not gone through those experiences. I had to ease her into the role. She worked very hard, and I am glad to say that she delivered the goods in the end.”
He adds that Ezzaty managed to hold herself up well against the two veteran lead actors. When asked about the message behind his film, Chong says: “When you put money in a bank, you will
get the interest. Unfortunately, love does not work like an investment. Sometimes, when you love someone, you may not get the same emotion in return. Your love will go unrequited. But love is supposed to be unconditional.”
Chong never dreamt of a life in showbiz.
“I was so poor that I did not have a television in my house,” he says. 

His father was a lorry driver, and his mother was a housewife.  
“My two sisters and I had to peek through our neighbour’s window just to watch television shows [on their TV set].”
Interestingly, his childhood dream was to be an astronaut.
“I thought it would be cool to travel to outer space,” he says.
Later, he wanted to join the army and serve his country. But being the only son in the family, his mother forbade him from enlisting.
“My mother kept telling me that good boys never become soldiers,” he says, laughing out loud.
Eventually, Chong became a model at the age of 18. After several years in the entertainment industry, Chong realised he preferred working behind the scenes, and became a casting director.
When one of his talents did not show up for a TV series shoot, he decided to fill in himself.
“I’m an accidental actor,” he says, starring in several television and film productions, and eventually making the move to work behind the camera.
He learned the art of scriptwriting and directing through observing other directors, and by researching online.
“There is a wealth of information on the internet,” he says.
Kau Takdirku has several memorable underwater scenes, which were not easy to shoot.  Interestingly, his next film will also have a lot of underwater scenes. That film will focus on the lives of our Malaysian coastguards, and the dangers of dealing with hijackers at sea. Shooting will start at the end of the year.
Chong’s next dream project is to direct a war film, harking back to his youthful army ambitions. He is currently writing a script for the film.
“I [have] always had a high respect for people who put their lives at risk to defend their country,” he says. 
“This film will be the closest I will get to my childhood ambition of being a soldier.”
When asked what is the biggest change he would love to see in the Malaysian film industry, Chong says: “In the 80s, we were making less than 10 movies a year. But now we are making about 60 to 80 movies. There are far too many Malaysian movies in the market. As a result, some good movies have gone unnoticed. We need to produce fewer movies, but more quality ones.”  

Monday, July 31, 2017

Kandang & Omar Ali



George Orwell famous novel Animal Farm will be presented in a Bahasa Malaysia stage play called Kandang. Here is an interview with the director Omar Ali in theSun today. 


Headline : A Play On  Power
By Bissme S

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. That’s the premise of George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm, first published in 1945.
Director Omar Ali will be presenting this wonderful piece of literature in Bahasa Malaysia, in a stage production entitled Kandang. Both he and his father, author Tan Sri  Muhammad Ali Hashim, painstakingly translated the work into the national language.
This political satire will take place at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts (klpac) from Aug 10 to 13, featuring a cast that includes Ashraf Zain, Farah Rani, Joe Chin, Clarence Kuna, and Faez Malek, among others.
The story centres on Old Major, a prize-winning boar, who gathers the animals of the Manor Farm for a meeting in the big barn. He tells them of a dream he has, in which all  animals live  together in a land with no humans to oppress them. He believes all animals should be treated equally.
Old Major later dies, the animals decide to come together and make his dream a reality. They manage to drive out the owner of Manor Farm, Mr Jones, and rename the property Animal Farm.Initially, the animals  are able to create a paradise on Animal Farm.But slowly, the animals start to oppress one another, and equality becomes a forgotten vision.
“I love the fact that the author used animals as allegory [for] humans,” says 34-year-old Omar.
“The ideals they spoke about were supposed to free them. But in the end, the same ideals caged them instead. Sometimes, your solution becomes your problem.”
This inspired the title of his play – Kandangliterally means ‘cage’.
“My goal is to examine and analyse what this word means and represents,” said Omar. 
He admitted that to a certain degree, Kandang is a politically-charged play, but it also has a lot of humour.
“It is not a play about  bashing any [person] or any politican,” he says. 
“With power comes the issues of accountability, responsibility and public trust. But when one gets a taste of power, one becomes  intoxicated by it, and try to grab more power.
“Everyone wants glory but no one really wants to do the work.”
Prior to this  production, Omar Ali directed Shakespeare’s Macbeth in Bahasa Malaysia in 2016, and the play was a huge success. More recently, his Bahasa Malaysia translation of Harold Pinter’s play Betrayal was directed by Joe Hasham, of The Actor’s Studio.Omar strongly feels there is a resistance towards  adapting Western literature into the Malay language.
“These critics keep saying [these are] their (foreigners) stories and not ours,” he says. 
“They keep saying that is how the Westerners will behave, and not us. That is quite a shame. The West has a wealth of stories that we can learn from. The message in their stories is relevant to us. Ultimately, their stories tell us that we all are humans and make mistakes.”
A trained graphic designer and copywriter, Omar stumbled into theatre by accident. His ex-wife was in theatre, and he used to send her to her rehearsals. One of the theatre productions wanted an extra for the role of a zombie, and Omar was invited to join in. It was the “best  experience of his life”.
“I wanted to do that for the rest of my life,” he adds.
When asked if he likes to dabble in television and film, Omar says: “I am very open to explore different mediums. But at the moment, I am happy with theatre. It allows us to put a slice of our life on stage. Ultimately, theatre explores humanity.”  

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Osman Ali & Kau Yang Satu


Film maker Osman Ali talks to theSun about his latest film Kau Yang Satu and the changes he love to see taking place in the Malaysian film industry. Here is the full story 

Headline : The One Great Love 
By Bissme S

When asked what is the biggest change he would love to see taking place in the Malaysian film industry, director Osman Ali states: a bigger marketing budget for local films.He says: “Other countries are using aggressive marketing tools to inform the world about their films. Some are willing to invest big money in promoting their movies. Sometimes, their marketing budget [is] as big as their movie budget. But we are not doing this here. We are totally neglecting this aspect. Our movies have gone unnoticed. When the audiences are not aware of the existence of our movies, they will not take the trouble to catch our films. That could be one of the reasons why our films have been doing badly at the box office. We simply believe marketing a movie 
is not important. We need to change this mindset if we want to see our film industry progress.”
Osman’s latest film will premiere in cinemas tomorrow.The story, based on a bestselling novel by Nia Azalea, centres on Datuk Mustaza (played by Zaidi Omar) who is rescued from drowning by a fisherman named Sulaiman (Wan Hanafi Su). Mustaza is naturally grateful to Sulaiman for saving his life, and when he meets the fisherman’s beautiful and kind-hearted 
daughter Salina (Izara Aishah), he decides to marry her to his son Taufiq (Aaron Aziz).
However, Taufiq already has a girlfriend Isabella (Soo Wincci) and refuses to marry someone he does not know. But Mustaza, who disapproves of Isabella, forces Taufiq to marry Salina. Taufiq refuses to stop seeing Isabella even after his marriage to 
Salina, and an angry Salina packs her bags and leaves him.
Slowly, the couple decide to find some common ground and try to make their marriage work.Osman says: “Kau Yang Satu
 is about two complicated people who are trying to make sense of their relationship. Adjustments are necessary for 
any relationship to work. The audience will get to see a roller-coaster of emotions. Love, and marriage, are things not to be 
taken lightly.”  
This is the third time Osman has adapted a novel into a film. His first two adaptations were Ombak Rindu by Fauziah Ashari, and 
Pilot Cafe by Ahadiat Akashah. While some people have pointed out that Kau Yang Satubears a lot of similarities with his  
Ombak Rindu , which coincidentally also starred Aaron in the lead male role, Osman dismisses the criticism.  
“Kau Yang Satu is nothing likeOmbak Rindu,” he insists, adding that the film’s female lead, Salina,  is completely different from Ombak Rindu’s Izzah, played by Maya Karin.
“Salina is rebellious, headstrong and feisty,” he says. 
“She does not take her husband’s trangressions lying down.”
But Aaron, who plays the leading man in both films, portrays a similar character of a hostile husband who treats his wife shabbily.
Osman still insists there are differences in both characters. 
He says: “Aaron has [given a] different [portrayal] to his character in Kau Yang Satu[His character] was more 
arrogant in Ombak Rindu while in this film, he is more annoying and ‘naughty’ [rather than arrogant].”   
Osman’s next project will be the romantic drama Pinjamkan Hati, about two people with a terminal disease who meet and 
fall in love. The film, which will star Shaheizy Sam, Ayda Jebat and Farid Kamil, will open in cinemas at the end of the year.
Osman has already lined up two future film projects. The first is a romantic horror titled Langsuirand the second is a 
horror film titled Timah Putin.
Langsuir is about a group of youths who go fishing and get stranded on a haunted island. One of the boys falls for a 
langsuir (a female ghost), bringing the audience into a world of mysticism.
Timah Putin is about a traditional Malay dancer who is murdered by her father. Her restless spirit begins to haunt both 
him and the people in her village.
“I have written the script [for Timah Putin] a long time ago,” he says. 

“I am glad to see [that] the script will finally become a film.” 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Hijabsta Ballet.


Today, theSun publishes my interview with the film maker Syed Zul Tojo who is making a film about a woman who loves her art and her religion, and how her two world clashes. Read the full  interview here. 

Headline : Breaking Barriers 
By Bissme S

At the  ripe young age of  55, Syed Zul Tojo has  finally achieved his  childhood dream  of  becoming a filmmaker. His first  feature film, Hijabsta Ballet, will be opening in cinemas on Aug 3. 
“You are never too old to make  your dream a reality,” says Syed who is the director, producer and co-writer for Hijabsta Ballet.
The film centers on a girl named Adele, who is studying  ballet, and has dreams of becoming a world-renowned ballerina. But when she starts to wear a hijab to her dance classes, her new dress sense does not go down well with her dance mates and tutors. 
Adele also has to contend with her ambitious mother Diana who feels Adele is making the biggest mistake of her life and destroying any future she has as a ballerina. This causes friction between mother and daughter. 
Newcomer Puteh Maimum Zarra plays Adele, while singer-actress Betty Banafe plays her mother, Diana. The film also stars Aida Khalid, Aman Graseka, Sally Bruce, and Azeman Aliff. 
Shot in Perth, Australia, as well as Kuala Lumpur, Hijabsta Ballet was later shown to some 2,000 test viewers from diverse backgrounds to gauge their  reaction. 
Syed revealed that 80% of this test audience said they enjoyed the film, while 16% said it was average, and 4% hated it. 
The film also touches on the issue of Islamaphobia, drawing interest from several foreign markets.
“I try not to plant messages in my film,” said this father-of-four. 
“I prefer to let viewers have their own interpretation of the movie.  [The issue of wearing a] hijab is a popular topic being discussed around the world today, and I am just highlighting that in this film. 
“I am just telling the story of a woman who loves her art as well as her religion, and how her two worlds [clash].”  
Syed also points out that one test member, an American, did not notice any Islamphobia elements in his film. Instead, the 
man told Syed that he saw his film as being about a mother-and-daughter relationship.  
When asked to express how he feels now that his longtime dream has become a reality, Syed says: “It is like you are running a marathon. When you are running, you do not feel tired. But when you reach the finish line, the [fatigue] hits you, and trust me, you’ll feel totally exhausted.” 
But Syed’s energy seems to have been renewed as he is already working on his second feature film. The new film will be about a historical figure, Panglima Awang Hitam, also known as Henry the Black or Enrique of Malacca. This 15th century Malay warrior was said to have sailed all over the world on a trading ship, before finally returning to his village. Currently, Syed is looking for funding for the film, which he hopes to begin shooting next year. 
Syed’s fascination with film making is partly due to his mother’s influence. When he was a child, she used to take him to  watch Bollywood movies. He was fascinated by what he saw on screen. 
He recalls: “I lived in their world and I understood their situations. I could feel their emotions.”  
This fascination created a need in him to explore the medium. He studied advertising and joined the industry making commercials. But that was not enough for him. 
“I wanted to make feature films,” he says. 
So he left the lucrative advertising world and started dabbling in various art forms, from photography to short films. Fulfilling his  film making dream has not been an easy task. 
“I had to face a lot of struggles and rejection,” he says. 
“Every artiste goes through that. But you have to develop a thick skin to face rejection, and have perseverance to continue believing in your dream.”
Syed has no regrets that he achieved his dream this late in life. 
“You have to understand life before directing a film,” he says. 
“[It] is not something you can rush into. You really have to take[the] time. When you are younger, you  have energy on your side. When you are older, your energy will dwindle. But you [will now] have knowledge on your side.”







Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Joko Anwar & Pengabdi Setan


Today theSun published my interview with the Indonesian film maker Joko Anwar who is making a horror film, Pengabdi Setan, with the Malaysian actor Bront Palarae in the lead role.  Read the full story below
 

Headline: For Love of a Classic Horror 
By Bissme S
 

As a young boy, award-winning Indonesian  filmmaker Joko Anwar loved to watch movies. He often visited a dilapidated cinema called Remaja Theatre in his  hometown of Medan, Indonesia. The cinema was well known for screening horror and martial arts films.
“Sometimes, I purchased a ticket, and other times, I just peeked through the vents,” says Joko, 41, in an interview with theSun.
One film that left a lasting impression on Joko was director Sisworo Gautama Putra’s Pengabdi Setan, an iconic Indonesian horror film released in 1980.The film tells the tale of a recently widowed man and his two  teenaged  children who  notice eerie  incidents happening in their home.
Pengabdi Setan terrified audiences in  Indonesia when it first came out, and was even shown in the United States and Japan. It remains a cult hit internationally even today.
Joko says: “I first watched Pengabdi Setan when I was six. I held on to my seat so tightly. When I came out of the cinema, it was still bright, and I was hoping the night would never come.”
Now, 27 years later, Joko is remaking this iconic horror film. His version of Pengabdi Setan was shot over the course of 18 days in April, and will play in Indonesian cinemas at the end of the year.
The remake is the  culmination of a dream for Joko, as the original film remains one of the strongest memories he has of going to the cinema.
“The [original] film still gives me the chills,” he says.
“I  always wanted to make films that have a similar impact on the audience.”
For the past 10 years, Joko has been negotiating with Rapi Films – the company that owns the rights to the original Pengabdi Setan – to give him permission for the remake. When he finally got the green light earlier this year, it was a moment of pure joy for the filmmaker. Joko is  retaining the original film’s  basic plot, its eerie atmosphere, and the religious undertone.
“I’m trying to keeping as many elements of the original film as possible,” he adds. 
However, Joko is also bringing in a few surprises to the remake. But for now, he does not want to reveal too much.  
“When you’ve  finished watching it, you will understand the connection between the original and the remake,” he says.
Joko has picked award-winning Malaysian actor Bront  Palarae to play the lead  character of the grieving widower. One wonders if the casting choice is a marketing strategy to get Malaysian audiences to watch his remake.
“I never choose my actors for marketing purposes,” he says.
“That is not the way I make my films. I choose my actors because they fit my characters.” 
The rest of the cast comprises Indonesian actors Tara Basro Dimas Aditya, Endy Arfian, Nasar Anuz, Egy Fedly, Ayu Laksmi, Elly D. Luthan, Arswendi Bening Swara, M. Adhiyat, Fachri Albar, and Asmara Abigail.
Most of the shoot took place around a house in  Pengalengan, West Java.
“We scouted for months looking for the right location,” Joko says.
“Initially, we wanted to find one in Jakarta because the  production cost would be cheaper, as we had a limited budget.”
But when the crew saw the house in  Pengalengan, they immediately fell in love with it.   
“The place was already atmospheric, and the roomsstrangely fit my imagination,” he says.
In addition, the weather during the shoot was chilly, which added to the haunting mood.The film is a  career milestone for Joko, who originally studied  aerospace engineering at the prestigious Institut Teknologi Bandung because his family could not afford to send him to a film school.
After graduating, he became a journalist at The Jakarta Post, and later became a film critic. In 2005, he directed his first feature film, the romantic comedy Janji Joni which became a box-office hit.
Since then, many of his films have achieved critical acclaim at international film festivals. Joko has also gone in front of the camera, to try his hand at acting.
“I decided to act so that I can understand how it feels to be directed,” he says. 
“It really helped me [to] direct my actors. How to make them comfortable in a scene, to know what’s the best environment for an actor to be able to slip into character, and so on.”
When asked what is his biggest challenge as an Indonesian film director, Joko says: “To be able to stay on track [making] films that I want. It’s very easy to be hired [for] films that you are not passionate about."




Thursday, June 15, 2017

Shanjhey Kumar Perumal


 
 Sunday will be Father's Day. theSun got the award winning film maker Shanjhey Kumar Perumal, to describe his relationship with his father and his new born son.

Headline: A Son's Lasting Gratitude
By Bissme S

Filmmaker Shanjhey  Kumar Perumal’s debut film, Jagat, was somewhat inspired by his own relationship with his father, Perumal Annamalai, 68. The film, written by the 37-year-old centres on a boy who tries to find a suitable role model among the three men in his life – his labourer father and his two uncles. His father has very little time for him, while one uncle is a gangster, and the other, aformer drug addict.
Jagat created history when it became the first non-Bahasa Malaysia film to grab the best film award at the 28th Malaysian Film Festival in 2016. Shanjhey also walked away with the best new director award. Jagat went on to take five more awards at the 2016 Kuala Lumpur Film Critics Awards.
On March 31 this year, Shanjhey became a first-time father with the birth of his son. That life-changing experience allowed him to understand his own dad better.
It also affords him new insights into the bittersweet relationship he has had with his father from young.But he admits with a laugh: “I find my father to be a more loving grandfather than a father.” 
Shanjhey is the eldest among three children. “When I was a kid, my relationship with my father was warm and sweet.”
He remembers playfully wrestling with his father on many occasions, and his dad reading bedtime stories to him.
“My father was the first person who told me about the Malaccan warrior Hang Tuah,” he says.
He believes his father’s storytelling inspired him to tell his own stories through films. But their relationship changed when Shanjhey entered his teenage years.
“There was bitterness in our relationship,” recalls Shanjhey of that period of time growing up in Parit Buntar, Perak. 
“At one point, I even stopped talking to him.”
His father was a general worker and gardener at Shanjhey’s high school.Perumal also sold ice kacang and newspapers to earn extra money. Shanjhey would often help his father at the stall and to deliver newspapers.
“My father woke up at 5am every day, and only stopped working after 7pm,” he says.
“When he got home, he was too tired to spend time with me. I felt neglected. I was angry at him for putting his work first. I did not understand his predicament then.
“Looking back now, I realised he was working hard to put a roof over our heads, and food on our table. I should have been more grateful.”  
Instead, the teenaged Shanjhey turned rebellious. He remembers an incident where one of his classmates made fun of his father. He got so angry that he attacked his classmate. Fortunately, his father
intervened and stopped the fight.
“I was protecting my father’s honour and he was not grateful,” recalls Shanjhey.
“Instead, he slapped me in front of my classmates, and I felt embarrassed. I was so furious at him after that.”
Things got worse when Shanjhey entered Form Six. His father forced him to stay with his uncle, who lived miles away from their hometown. 
“I was angry at my father for separating me from my friends,” he says.
Only much later did Shanjhey realise that whatever his father did, it was done with the best intentions in mind.
From then on, he concentrated on his studies and eventually, graduated with a Communication degree in Film and Broadcasting from Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang.
“My father shaped me to be the person I am today,” he says.
“If he was not strict with me, I would have ended up as a bad hat.”
One thing Shanjhey really admires about his father is that Perumal never stopped him from pursuing his dream of becoming a filmmaker.
“He understood my passion for the arts and he wanted me to be happy,” he says. 
Speaking on his own experience with fatherhood, Shanjhey says he was extremely nervous on the day his son, Arrievan, was born. 
“There were some complications, and I was worried for the safety of my wife and my son. My son had to spend a day in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit).”
Fortunately, both mother and baby turned out fine afterwards.  As a father, Shanjhey hopes to teach his son to respect others, to never be afraid to say sorry, and to never forget to say thank you. 
He is also aware that his son might be a rebel during his teenage years, just as he was.
“Sometimes, [being a] rebel is a good thing,” he says.
Shanjhey is also aware that whatever path he takes, it will influence his son.
“So I must be careful with my choices,” he says.
But at the end of the day, he adds: “The important thing is, I want to give him the freedom to be who he is and who he wants to be.”

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Namron




 Namron speaks to theSun about his role in Mencari Rahmat which is adaptation of Oscar Wilde's famous play The Importance of Being Earnest as well as directing a movie One Two Jaga that deals with corruption.

Headline: Unmasking The  Lies

Director  Al Jafree Md Yusop’s latest project Mencari Rahmat will be premièring at The Kota Kinabalu International Film Festival (KKIFF) which runs from July 7 to 16. This indie film is a Malay adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s famous play The Importance of Being Earnest and set in a local context.  
This dark comedy centres on successful businessman Razak Abdullah who has to look after his niece Ratna. Razak has a wild, party-loving side. But he hides it from Ratna. Whenever he heads to the big city for some fun, he tells Ratna he is going to see his troublesome younger brother Rahmat. In reality, Rahmat does not exist. Inadvertably, Razak’s charade is exposed.
Taking on the role of Razak is Shahili Abdan or better known as Namron. Others in the cast include Amerul Affendi, Adibah Noor, Sharifah Amani, Fauziah Nawi and Nadiah Aqilah.
Explaining his reason for accepting the role, the 48-year-old Namron says: “I love the fact that the director has taken the trouble to interpret a well-known western work in a Malay context. We
should experiment with the way we tell stories.”
This is something close to the heart of this actor-director. In 2003, for his first attempt at directing a film, Namron did a a loose adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, which
he entitled Gedebe. The film deals with the power struggle between two best friends where one eventually is killed. 

The other reason Namron signed on for Mencari Rahmat is that the story takes place mostly in two houses. He says that goes to show that director Al Jafree wants to put the whole focus on the story
and performances to hook the audience.
“The actors have to rise to the challenge to churn out a convincing performance,” says Namron
"And as an actor, I like to be challenged.” 
Going into more details about his character Razak, Namron says: “All of us have a mask, and It is up
to us whether we want to wear it or not. In Razak’s case, he chooses to wear his mask because he is afraid of people judging him. If we live our lives like Razak, then we are not being true to ourselves. I do not think I will be good friends with someone like Razak.”
Wilde’s play is full of sarcasm and witty humour – elements that might not appeal to the average Malay film goer who generally prefers slapstick comedies.
“We should be adopting a totally different marketing strategy for Mencari Rahmat from the usual way we promote a typical Malay comedy,” says Namron, adding that they will try to lure in audiences who love to see subtle comedies.   
If everything goes well, Mencari Rahmat will hit the big screen here by the end of the year.Currently, Namron is busy directing his new film, One Two Jaga, where he bravely tackles the sensitive issue of corruption.
The story centres on two crooked authorities  who harass and take bribes from illegal immigrants. The film stars Rosdeen Suboh, Zahril Adzim, Ameriul Affendi, Vanida Imran and Azman Hassan.
Namron has sent the script to Bukit Aman to be vetted before shooting began. After making a few changes, he got the green light to shoot but the film might yet be banned by the censorship board.
If that happened, it won’t be the first for Namron as his earlier films, such as Gaduh, which deals with racial tension in a school, and Jalan Pintas, about an unemployed graduate resorting to crime,
were banned too.
“I am not purposely stirring up controversy here,” he says of his latest project.
“All of us have heard stories like this from immigrants. I am just highlighting what I have heard in a film.I am a firm believer that a filmmaker should push the boundaries and discuss sensitive topics with an open mind. Not discussing certain issues is like sweeping rubbish under the carpet.”
He points out that most people mistakenly think that corruption is not a dangerous crime because nobody gets killed. 

“Corruption can be deadly. It can kill people’s hopes.”
He also stresses his film does not entirely paint the authorities in a negative light.
“I am sympathetic towards them too,” he says.
“I am trying to show what forces someone to go down the wrong path and take bribes. My film is more about humanity than corruption.” 
With Namron at the helm, expect One Two Jaga to stir up some interesting discourse. The director also plans to bring the film to international film festivals and markets overseas.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Bront Palarae





Today theSun published my interview with Malaysian actor Bront Palarae  who talks about the latest happening in his career. He is  is acting Indonesian horror movie as well as a Philippines thriller.   

Headline : Thriving On Challenges 
By Bissme S

Director Sisworo Gautama Putra’s Pengabdi Setan produced in 1980, is  an iconic Indonesian horror  film that went on to be 
screened in Japan and the United States.  In April this year, award-winning director Joko Anwar  (Pintu Terlarang & A Copy of 
My Mind) shot a remake of this classic, which is slated for  release in Indonesian cinemas at the end of the year. 
Playing the lead in Joko’s version of Pengabdi Setan is  award-winning Malaysian actor-director-producer Bront Palarae. In an exclusive interview with  theSun, the 38-year-old  actor says: “Pengabdi Setan has  been Joko’s favourite film since childhood. He always wanted to remake the film.”
Bront says that he is honoured to be part of the project which is  so close to Joko’s heart, adding  that the director had kept the 
iconic elements from the old film, and brought in some new changes to the remake.
“You will get a sense of deja vu  and some freshness from the  film,” he says, adding that the  movie is about a man trying to 
keep his family from the brink of  destruction. 
Bront first met Joko in late 2014 when the director saw his  performance as an eccentric filmmaker in  Terbaik Dari Langit, 
which later won him the best actor award at the 2015 Asean  International Film Festival &  Awards. 
Joko praised the film on  Twitter, which led to an invite to meet with Terbaik Dari Langit’s cast and crew. “That was my first 
time meeting him,” says Bront.
Before long, Joko offered Bront a role in HBO Asia’s Halfworlds, a landmark English-language supernatural-themed 
TV series. Pengabdi Setan is their second project together. 
Bront takes on the role of father-of-four Bahri Suwono, who has just buried his wife. When strange, eerie incidents 
start happening in his house, Bahri suspects someone has been  dabbling in black magic and now, he spirits are haunting his 
children. 
“You feel like you are  watching an Agatha Christie whodunit,” says Bront, who had to learn Bahasa Indonesia to play 
the role.   
While waiting for  Pengabdi  Setan to premiere, the actor is not  sitting on his laurels. Next week, Bront will be 
leaving for the Philippines to shoot another chilling horror film,  Daddy’s Home. 
He plays a man who returns home after a few months working  onboard a ship. But his wife and  teenage son soon realise he is not 
the same person. The film will be directed by award-winning Malaysian filmmaker Bradley Liew, who is 
based in Manila, and produced by award-winning Philippine producer Bianca Balbuena. 
The two had previously worked together on the film, Singing in Graveyards. For Daddy’s Home, Bront has to learn Tagalog to get into the skin of his character.  Asked why he is going for roles in foreign films, Bront explains: “When I act in these 
foreign productions, nobody really knows who I am. I am almost like a newcomer and have to prove myself all over again. 
“That is a good feeling. I want to be out of my comfort zone. I want to be put in a new place where I have to struggle to play a 
role. I would rather be an anchovy in a big sea, than a big fish in a small pond.”     
As for local productions, the actor has just completed shooting Safari Mall, a comedy directed by Jordan Suleiman, about a group of people trapped in a shopping mall which is suddenly attacked by aliens.
Bront says he will be playing himself in this film. “Sometimes, as an actor, we impersonate others and mock them. Here, the 
audience will see Bront Palarae mocking Bront Palarae.”  
Next year, Bront goes behindthe camera to direct his second film, Dawn Raid: The Hands that Rattled the Queen
, based on a true story about the Guthrie Group, a British trading firm which controlled the Malaysian rubber plantations. 
In 1981, a group of Malaysian businessmen took control of the company through the stock exchange, with the aim of 
returning the plantations back to local ownership. 
“We are not doing a pure business film,” Bront explains. 
“We are approaching it like a heist film. Through this film, we want to say that it is cool to serve your nation again.”