As The Village Voice’s Dennis Lim stated so succinctly, “New Thai cinema? So 2002. As fest globe-trotters know, the Southeast Asian hot spot of the moment is Malaysia.” These shorts, by established directors as well as upcoming talents, are proof-positive of such worthy praise. As varied in their culture as they are in language, they also amply represent Malaysia’s cultural diversity.
Love for Dogs
Woo Ming Jin | 2003 | Malaysia | Video | 25:00 | Canadian Premiere
One of the most accomplished shorts to come out of Southeast Asia in recent memory, Love for Dogs features remarkably controlled long takes that magnifies the glaring loneliness of two individuals: a conniving vagabond and a girl who pretends to be deaf-mute. With austere, minimalist scenes best compared to Tsai Ming-liang, the two individuals’ inevitable encounter is simultaneously sad, comic, uncomfortable and romantic. A must-watch.
Woo Ming Jin was born in Malaysia in 1976. A graduate of Film and Video Production at San Diego University, he has made several short films and music videos. Monday Morning Glory (2005) is his first feature, followed by the recent Salon (2005).
Woman of the Cosmos
Diffan Sina Norman | 2003 | Malaysia | Video | 4:00 | Canadian Premiere
There are no real Malaysian cosmonauts. But Diffan Sina Norman’s imaginative animated short creates an alternate world where a Muslim woman is picked, in a game show, to become the first Malaysian in space. Drawn in a style reminiscent of elementary school textbooks, it is both a hilarious satire on his own people as well as a good-old fashioned story about (im)possible dreams.
Diffan Sina Norman was born in Malaysia in 1983. He directed two music videos at the age of 20 that won prestigious medals in the Cyberjaya digital-video competition.
Amir Muhammad | 2002 | Malaysia | Video | 15:00 | Toronto Premiere
Part of Amir Muhammad’s acclaimed 6horts, Kamunting is by far the most controversial. As with the other films in the series (three others are presented with The Big Durian, also at Reel Asian), they are essay-films that are narrated primarily through text and visuals. As always, humour and politics go hand-in-hand. This time, Muhammad visits a prisoner arrested as a result of Malaysia’s Internal Security Act, a policy that allows the government to hold prisoners for any unspecified amount of time without trial.
Amir Muhammad was born in 1972 in Kuala Lumpur. He wrote and directed Malaysia’s first DV feature, Lips to Lips, in 2000. Filmography: 6horts (2002), The Big Durian (2003), Tokyo Magic Hour (2005), The Year of Living Vicariously (2005).
I Dream Of The Fat Man
Mak Joon Keat | 2005 | Malaysia | Video | 2:00 | International Premiere
A highly surrealistic experimental animation, its title is self-explanatory. The myriad of bizarre symbols cohere into a surprising revelation at the conclusion of the film. Mak Joon Keat was born in Ipoh, Malaysia, and is a recent graduate of the New Media course at The Centre for Advanced Design, Kuala Lumpur.
Kit Ong | 2005 | Malaysia | Video | 10:00 | International Premiere
This jet-black comic thriller has a simple but effective premise: what do you do if someone recognises you, but you don’t remember having ever met them? As Ween convinces Linda to recall their past friendship, we are left to wonder if the same situation could ever happen to us … and ponder the old adage: never take lifts from strangers.
Kit Ong has been working in advertising for over a decade and started making shorts only this year. He has so far made four, each in a different language. He is now preparing for his debut feature, The Flowers Beneath My Skin.
Azharr Rudin | 2005 | Malaysia | Video | 9:00 | International Premiere
Gene Kelly doesn’t star in Raining Amber, but his influence can be felt in this wordless, deadpan interaction between a man and a woman. At a bus stop, the man tries on increasingly animated antics to get the woman’s attention. It’s half the fun to guess the context of the film. Are they a quarrelling couple? Do they even know each other? No matter, as the final conclusion can be seen as a deserved comeuppance or a sad end to a broken relationship. Cynical or romantic? It’s all up to you.
Azharr Rudin has a diploma in Multimedia and is now a freelance editor (including for Amir Muhammad’s two most recent documentaries) and director. He just completed a cycle of shorts called The Amber Sexology, of which Raining Amber is a part.
Bernafas Dalam Lumper
James Lee | 2005 | Malaysia | Video | 18:00 | North American Premiere
This latest work from the director of The Beautiful Washing Machine continues with his minimalist track in this superbly acted story of a woman caught between two men. Azman, a photographer, is infatuated with the sullen Lina, but she is awaiting her husband’s return from years in jail. Effused with pain and loneliness, this tripartite love affair ends just as it began – unresolved, with a quiet conclusion that speaks louder than any verbal expository can.
James Lee was born in 1973 in Ipoh, Malaysia. A self-taught filmmaker, in 2001 he directed his first fiction film Snipers, as well as many acclaimed shorts and features. He founded Doghouse73 Pictures, an award-winning independent DV-filmmaking outfit.