Sunday, August 31, 2008

SELAMAT MENYAMBUT BULAN RAMADHAN

The Ramadhan is one of my most favourite times of the year. I enjoy it tremendously and try to do it diligently. Even during production, I ensure that no one on my set insults the sanctity of the Holy month. Anyone caught eating in public during my production shoot will be dealt with severely.
Nevertheless, buka puasa on set is always memorable and fun, and I always try to offer the best buka puasa meal to the crew and cast.
This year, however, there is no production scheduled during the fasting month. I would be spending it instead to develop my feature films for next year.
However, I do plan to host a big buka puasa do for my friends, crew and cast sometime in the third week of September.
I do hope my health will allow me to fastidiously complete my fasts - but my reflux is getting from bad to worse. I do hope my medication, taken after my sahur, will allow me the comfort to execute my fasts.
To all my family and friends, relatives, enemies (or rather competition) and to all my readers and to fans of Bilik No.13, I wish you all the best and all the pahla you are entitled to during this wonderful month of Ramadhan.

MY CHOICE FOR BEST MALAYSIAN MOVIE 2007

Ok, it's been a few weeks since the Malaysian Film Festival - where Mamat's film Kala Malam Bulan Mengambang won for Best Film and Best Director.
My predictions were all based on what I thought the jurors and the local critics would choose - and not mine. But yesterday, I viewed all the contenders - excluding Hatta's Wayang, Annuar's Johnny Bikin Filem and Subash's Pensil.
And my choice for Best Film is Anak Halal.
And my choice for Best Director? Osman Ali beating out Hans Isaac for CUCI.
I was really impressed by Anak Halal though there were many flaws - but it was a rough gem nonetheless. Structure-wise it wasn't that great, with the final act falling to pieces (but at least it was just the final fifteen minutes or so - unlike Kala Malam Bulan Mengambang where the second half of the movie dissipated into mush).
If there was an award for Best Ensemble, Anak Halal would and should have won, because most of the cast were consistently good. Maya Karin, who showed she can act and had real talent was however a miscast. I cannot believe that she is someone that belong to that world. The believability factor wasn't there.
Zul Huzaimie was excellent. So was Farid Kamil. Fasha Sandha, however, was not in the same league as the rest. She stood out like a sore thumb.
In fact, I am still wondering why Farid didn't beat Rosham as Best Actor.
But then again, this is the Malaysian Film Festival. The criteria and the awards do not carry much merit because it is not given out based on merit.
On a final note, I find myself surprisingly agreeing to the Best Screenwriting award - Hans Isaac for CUCI. In the hands of a more polished director, CUCI could have been a great fun movie - but as it is - it was the best written movie of last year. Yes, even better than Osman's Anak Halal (but just by a bit - the last act again Osman).
So congratulations Hans, Osman Ali, Tayangan Unggul and Farid Kamil. You have my TOAST as last year's best performers in our industry.

MERDEKA AND THE MOVIES

Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka! 51 years of it. And through the eyes of filmmakers, what do we have to show for it? Nothing much. What about patriotic-themed movies?
I don't know. The local critics, the television stations and the government at large always seem to want (usually around August) a plethora of patriotic-themed movies. What the heck is a patriotic themed movie?
Was Shuhaimi Baba's 1957: Hati Malaya a patriotic movie?Was Embun? How about Paloh? Maybe Leftenan Adnan? How about Bukit Kepong?
Let's first try to understand the word 'patriotism'. This is what Wikipedia had to say:

Patriotism is commonly defined as the love for or devotion to one's country. The word comes from the Latin patria, and Greek patris, πατρίς.[1] However, "patriotism," or the love of one's country, has come to have different meanings over time. Thus, the meaning of patriotism can be highly dependent upon context, geography and philosophy.
Although patriotism is presently used in certain vernaculars as a synonym for nationalism, nationalism is not considered an inherent part of patriotism.
Many contemporary notions of patriotism are influenced by 19th century ideas about nationalism. During the 19th century, "being patriotic" becomes increasingly conflated with nationalism, and even jingoism.[9] However, some notions of contemporary patriotism reject nationalism in favor of a more classic version of the idea of patriotism which includes social responsibility.

And the dictionary says:
patriot |ˈpātrēət|
noun
1 a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors.

Does this help you in identifying patriotic movies?
I don't really know. In Malaysia, when you talk about patriotic themed movies - the authorities seem to have narrowed down to stories about the fight against the communists (Bukit Kepong), the British or the Japanese (Embun and Paloh) and anything to do with achieving Merdeka (hence Shuhaimi's 1957 has become the quintessential patriotic movie).

Nevertheless, I'm still not satisfied. I'm sure, patriotism and nationalism can be imbued in any genre of cinema. I try to. Inject a little bit of patriotism here and there. A little subtext. A little innuendo.

To me, patriotism in huge doses may work against the movie.

And war movies do not equate patriotism. If it is, can one consider the jingoistic TV series Combat a series that promote patriotism? Was Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan a patriotic movie? Or maybe Mel Gibson's The Patriot?
These are all war movies. Albeit some are actually anti-war movies. Hardly patriotic.
To me, even a contemporary movie can be patriotic. Or a comedy. Horror? Maybe (I once caught a movie about disgruntled dead soldiers going back to the US to vote against their Government). It is the underlying message that is important - the message that can be muted by overkill or a message so subtle that it can be very effective. This depends on the screenplay and on the director's skill in making the movie work.
My choice of most patriotic movie ever made in Malaysia?
That's a tough one. I don't remember seeing a Malay movie that upon watching it makes me feel full of pride at being a Malaysian. If you know of any, please tell me.
Anyway, to all true Malaysians - I wish all of you A Happy Merdeka Day!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

THE TRUTH ABOUT P. RAMLEE'S PENARIK BECA

In the recent National Congress on the Entertainment Industry held in Johor Baru, I had the opportunity to sit in on award winning filmmaker, Adman Salleh’s, presentation.

He began by talking about P. Ramlee’s first movie Penarik Beca made in 1956.

In his paper, he mentioned that the movie was based on and influenced by Lao She’s epic novel Rickshaw Boy and that P. Ramlee was asked to do a Malay version of the novel because MFP’s Chinese management had an underlying agenda of promoting the socialist ideas inherent in the novel.

When I heard this I am a little bewildered because I heard a different version of the story. So, to clear my dusty memory, I asked my father again, what had inspired P. Ramlee to do Penarik Beca as his first movie – was it the management’s desire to translate Lao She’s epic into a Malay movie or was there something else.

I have never read Lao She’s full novel – just excerpts, reviews and criticism. And as far as I know, the story portrayed in that novel is quite different from Penarik Beca the movie. That is why I had a hard time to believe that P. Ramlee was inspired or even read the novel by Lao She.

I am not sure, but somehow I also heard Adman saying that P. Ramlee watched a movie based Lao She’s novel. That again didn’t ring true.

Lao She’s novel was never made into a movie except in 1982 which was subsequently banned by China’s censors until recently. The movie was immediately considered a classic and a masterpiece – but it was made in 1982. Penarik Beca was made in 1956. So that was out of the question.

Now, there was a movie called The Rickshaw Man made in 1943. But this was a Japanese movie directed by Hiroshi Inagaki and was remade by the same director in 1958 starring Toshiro Mifune. As far as I know, this movie was not inspired by Lao She’s novel as the storyline and conflicts within the story is vastly different.

The movie (original title Muhomatsu No Issho) had a more familiar storyline to P. Ramlee’s Penarik Beca.

So, I asked my father, what influenced P. Ramlee – the Chinese novel or the Japanese movie. According to my father, during the Japanese occupation, P. Ramlee was amongst the thousands of Malay youths in Penang to be educated (can’t use the word indoctrinated) in Japanese culture. During this period, Ramlee viewed many Japanese movies that actually instilled his love for quality movies.

One of the movies that he watched was the 1943 movie The Rickshaw Man by Inagaki.

So, according to my father, when P. Ramlee was asked to direct his first movie, Ramlee went back to his past to find out which story was ideal as he had no original idea yet.
He chose The Rickshaw Man as his template.
No one forced him to do anything. It was his choice and his decision to make a movie based on Inagaki’s The Rickshaw Man.

So, Adman’s paper began on a factually inaccurate note. The truth is, Penarik Beca did not have a socialist agenda and was not based on Lao She’s novel.

Below is a clip from Ramlee's Penarik Beca - with the song Azizah which he wrote and my father did the lyrics.


Below is a clip from Inagaki's 1958 remake of his 1943 movie The Rickshaw Man.


OUR SILVER JUBILEE - 25 YEARS OF MARRIED LIFE

Twenty five years ago was my aqad nikah with Puteh Jerineh Binte Ramli held in a bungalow in No.7, Jalan Rhu, in New Town area, Petaling Jaya.

Since then we have had four wonderful children - Aidyl Abadi, 23, Aidyl Nurhadi, 21, Adylla Lyanna, 17, and Adi Iliya, 15. No daughter-in-laws yet and therefore no grandchildren so far.

We've stayed in many places since we married. Our early married life as a couple was with her uncle in that same house in Petaling Jaya, mostly to take care of her late grandmother. In later years, we moved to a small apartment we bought in SEA Park Petaling Jaya.

The apartment was however too small and too difficult for her grandmother to move in with us, so we rented a house near to my mom's place in Kampung Tunku. There we stayed there until a few years (in various houses but usually in the same vicinity as not to confuse the kids with new schools every two years).

About 8 years ago, we decided to move back in into my old family home in Kampung Tunku after it was renovated. It was also when my parents wanted to retire to Janda Baik.
So here we are, 25 years later, in our humble little abode in Kampung Tunku.

We both used to contribute together to our savings. She used to work with Cathay Orgnisation, and then Sime Darby, and then Avon and then PLUS. We even worked together to start our own event management and PR consultancy called Lagenda Abadi but when the kids came, it was decided that she should become a full time housewife and took care of the kids. This was a good arrangement as the kids were getting bigger and needed our full attention.

Married life is also full of challenges and ups and downs - but nevertheless, I could never think what my life would be without her. She is the glue that makes the whole family stick together. So what if she is into herbs and plants (like I once said - FRIM would be jealous of her garden)? We have the healthiest garden in the neighborhood.

There are some parts of our life together that could improve (from her viewpoint) - I could actually go for morning walks with her for example (I would say no to her citing all sorts of excuses but on the other hand say yes to walking 18 holes with my golfing friends).

But that is life. Giving and taking. Balancing all the way - the good and the bad. In the end - as Alan Jay Lerner wrote for the musical My Fair Lady :
"I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face".I'm so used to hear her say
"Good morning" ev'ry day.
Her joys, her woes,
Her highs, her lows,
Are second nature to me now;
Like breathing out and breathing in.

Happy Anniversary, Dearest Wifey

AL- FATIHAH. DATUK AHMAD MAHMUD - HANG JEBAT PASSES AWAY


Former Malay Film Productions (MFP) top biller, Datuk Ahmad Mahmud (picture above with Datuk Sarimah), passed away (after a long illness) last night at his home in Kampung Tunku in Petaling Jaya. He was 85.

In the late 80's, Uncle Ahmad used to walk over to our house in Kampung Tunku (I think it would have taken him about 15 minutes each away) to have coffee and chat with my father about the old days of Jalan Ampas and also to talk about his movies.

He was enigmatic and full of life - contributing to about 80 percent of the conversation.

If I am not mistaken, he was only one of only two Malays who had directed themselves in a movie and won Best Actor awards for the same movie. He did this with his film Dendam Dari Pusara where he was awarded Best Actor at the National Film Festival awards in 1983. I think the only other person would be Tan Sri Jins Shamsuddin.

As an actor, he was one of the most versatile - though he hardly took on a comic role. I remember him in my father's Raja Bersiong (Vampire King) based on one of the old Malay epic fables - Merong Mahawangsa. He also played detective in Jebak Maut and of course one of the two most memorable Hang Jebats in Malay film history in Phani Majumdar's Hang Tuah starring P. Ramlee. The other famous jebat is Nordin Ahmad who fought M.Amin's portrayal of Tuah in Cathay Keris's Hang Jebat directed by Hussin Haniff.

What is sad is that his passing, though well covered in Malay papers, received a small three inch column in The New Straits Times. There was more space deemed more important by this newspaper to the various pregnancies of Hollywood actresses than the death of one of the most famous Malay actors of our time.

Datuk Ahmad spent most of his later years in life with his family, away from the movie industry he used to love. His son, Ariffin, is an old school friend. I offer my deepest condolences to his family and my doas to the late Uncle Ahmad. Al-Fatihah.

Below is the excerpt from Bernama wires:

Seniman yang popular dengan watak Dr Ismadi menerusi filem Ibu Mertuaku, Datuk Ahmad Mahmood atau lebih dikenali sebagai Ahmad Mahmud, 85, meninggal dunia Rabu malam akibat penyakit buah pinggang. Anaknya, Rogayah berkata seniman tersohor itu meninggal dunia pada pukul 10 malam di rumah keluarganya di Kampung Tunku di sini. Beliau berkata Ahmad Mahmud menerima rawatan di Pusat Perubatan Pantai, Bangsar sejak 22 Julai lepas sebelum dibawa pulang ke rumahnya. "Beliau menghidap penyakit buah pinggang sejak tujuh tahun lepas dan baru sepuluh hari berada di rumah selepas dirawat di Pusat Perubatan Pantai," katanya ketika dihubungi Bernama di sini. Beliau meninggalkan seorang balu, Datin Hadijah Mohamad, tiga orang anak dan sembilan cucu. Jenazah Allahyarham dijangka dikebumikan selepas solat Zohor Khamis, di Tanah Perkuburan Bukit Kiara. Ahmad Mahmud, anak kelahiran Rembau, Negeri Sembilan itu memulakan kerjayanya seawal tahun 1951 sebagai pelakon utama dalam filem Matahari. Dengan memiliki wajah yang tampan, Ahmad Mahmud pernah memegang watak sebagai Hang Jebat dalam filem Hang Tuah pada tahun 1956 bersama Allahyarham Tan Sri P.Ramlee. Sehingga kini, Ahmad Mahmud telah berlakon dalam lebih 20 filem, antaranya Istana Impian, Hang Tuah, Ibu Mertuaku, Dayang Senandung, Isi Neraka, Raja Bersiong dan Lela Manja. Ahmad Mahmud pernah terlibat sebagai pengarah, penerbit, cerita dan lakon layar asal dalam empat buah filem iaitu Mama Oh Mama (1981), Dendam Dari Pusara (1983), Mei 13 dan Komplot (1984). Beliau juga pernah dianugerah pelakon terbaik di Festival Filem Malaysia keempat pada tahun 1983.

Monday, August 25, 2008

MY MOM - ORANG PADANG

Most of my close friends know that I am half Padang, no not half field, half Padang Sumatra. My Dad is from Johor, but my mom is from Sumatra - Padang to be exact.
Over the past weekend, I had the chance to chat with my uncle, Tahiruddin, who is my mom's younger brother. He is now a Singaporean and came down for my niece's wedding.
I actually know quite a lot about my father's background - through conversations with him and through his memoirs, but not so my mother. Her background is somewhat cloaked in mystery.
But I do know that she is from Pariamman, from a little village near Sungei Geringging. In fact, I have been there once in 1997. I saw the house where she and my late grandmother stayed.
So, according to my uncle, Pak Tahir (pic below), after the Second world war, when the Dutch returned to once again impose their will on the Indonesians, the Indonesians fought back - a bloody part of their history to gain Independence. If you saw the movie Nagabonar, you would have gotten a somewhat warped view of what occupation under the Dutch after World War 2 was.
Nevertheless, many Sumatrans became refugees - running away from the Dutch. According to Pak Tahir, my mom left Sumatra for Bintan with her elder brother just after the beginning of hostilities with the Dutch. My grandmother came much later with another three of her children (including Pak Tahir who had stayed on to look after the farm with his grandmother). I also know that one of my uncles died fighting the Dutch during that period.
So I guess just before 1950, they left Pariamman and made their way to Pekan Baru.
There they found a sampan and they rowed, yes, they rowed all the way from Pekan Baru to the island of Bintan and reached Tanjung Pinang. My uncle said he was 13 years old then. So I guess my mom would have been 11 at that time. Not sure about the dates though - need to double check.
The journey across the straits of Malacca was life threatening having to avoid Dutch ships and boats. They started their journey when night came and they reached their destination 14 hours later.
Once they arrived in Tanjung Pinang, they survived by selling kueh and taking on other odd jobs. They were there for about two years, until they somehow decide to try their luck in Singapore as they know of some relatives who had already reached the island.
They hope that after Singapore, they can make their way back home to Padang. However, upon reaching Singapore, they met other Sumatrans who told them not to harbor hopes of returning for the time being as the war against the Dutch has not yet ended.
So, my grandmother met distant relatives who had opened a restaurant in Arab Street. The restaurant, a nasi padang restaurant which still exists today - is called Nasi Padang Pariamman (being run by their grandchildren today). My grandmother and mom worked in the restaurant. However, when my mom grew older and in her late teens, she decided to study English. She studied in the afternoon and got a job at a cabaret as a joget girl to pay for her studies. She still helped out at the restaurant and it was there that she met my father who loved nasi padang. It was also then that she was discovered and offered some minor roles in the fledgling film industry. She had natural acting talent and within a few months she was acting alongside P. Ramlee in the movie Ibu.
Someday, I will get more details from mom herself.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ABADI - NUMBER ONE SON

Today, my eldest son, Aidyl Abadi, turns 23. Yes, he's that old which makes me feel very very old. He is a lot like me - stubborn, reckless, adventurous and good looking. Hehehe. That's him in the picture with granddad over the weekend.
He is quite a talented young director actually. He has been assisting me for over a year and has directed some episodes of Bilik No.13. His eye for detail and dedication to achieving the shots he wants, make him quite a gifted young filmmaker.
His flaw, if you want to call that, is that he procrastinates. He needs to start writing more too. I mean a complete filmmaker needs to understand two things - good writing and editing.
Which is why I always try to make him write his own stories and scripts - which he labors to complete. Nothing comes easy in this world especially for filmmakers - therefore he really needs to buck up if he wants to be a success. Hopefully, next year he will go to New York for a short film course after which he will come back to direct his first feature length movie.
So, Buddy, work hard. The future is yours for the taking. Be brave and meet it head on. Success comes to those who are confident and work hard.
Your parents love you always.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A WEDDING - TIME TO MEET LONG LOST RELATIVES

Yesterday, in Shah Alam, my niece's wedding dinner was held at the MBSA Ballroom. It was a time to meet relatives that I haven't met for a LONG, LONG time.
My 22-year old niece, Rithopa Tantiana Binte Thopatalam (imagine the groom having to say that name during aqad niqah!) looked radiant in her gown.
Tantiana and husband Saiful walk the aisle to the Pelamin
My whole family was there, less my elder brother (who was flying to Amsterdam) and my younger brother (who was in New Jersey).
Below are some shots of the wedding and a video of me having to do the zapin on stage!
L-R Kak Asnah (my late brother Zaimi's wife), Herdawatie (cousin from Singapore), Kak Ani (my late brother Zaimi's sister - Zaimi was actually my step brother) and my mom with dad sitting down.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

THE MALAYSIAN MOVIE - A DEFINITION

At the recent congress in Johor Bharu, there was some time spent on trying to define what a Malaysian movie was. As usual there was a spirited debate which spilled even after the congress ended.
I guess, most of the 'arus perdana' filmmakers will not and will never accept the fact that a Malaysian movie or film is any film made in Malaysia or with Malaysian money and hopefully with Malaysian talents.
But no, to them, a Malaysian film MUST be one that uses Bahasa Malaysia as its lingua franca. Any other movie that uses any other language in the movie does not constitute a Malaysian film.
Look, I can be as chauvinistic as the next Malay, but to me film is film. If a Mandarin language film succeeds in drawing attention overseas to Malaysian film scene than it should be deemed a true Malaysian movie. If it's a tamil language movie - so be it.
The problem that I see is that there's no Malay movie that wants to be called a Malaysian movie. Wait a minute...there's no Malay movie to talk about - only pseudo Malay movies.
Then I saw the problem. What the question should have been was not how to define Malaysian movies, but instead we need to define what a Malay movie is or should be.
Is Impak Maksima a Malay movie? Is Gubra? Or is Wayang or Congkak a Malay movie? Or are they foreign movies disguised as a Malay movie because the language used is Bahasa Malaysia?
I don't really know. Each time I watched a so-called movie in Bahasa Malaysia it looks like a bad Hindi movie or a Hongkong movie wannabe. A Malay movie? I think Man Laksa was the best Malay movie ever made in the last few years. It is like something I haven't seen that have come out in other countries. It has very Melayu ideas and scenes and atmosphere.
So, too, is Anak Mami and all its offsprings. Sure, as a piece of filmmaking it is crap, but as a Malay movie it is honest. It is the only local film in Malay that utilise a regional dialect. like Uwei did with his Jogho.
Does using a dialect confirms a movie as pure filem Melayu? No it doesn't. A Malay movie is one that upon watching it defines a culture and a race. You know it is not a movie that could have come out from another country - be it Indonesia or Singapore.
So language does not define the origin nor nationality of a film.
Case in point, all the Indian-themed movies coming out of Britain. These movies are not Indian movies eventhough most of the dialog is in Tamil or Hindi. These are British movies - about British Indians and their own stories.
But unfortunately, most of our contemporary commercial filmmakers in Malaysia are not filmgoers. Apart from a handful (I can name a few - Uwei and Mamat), most of these filmmakers or those in Finas's board do not enjoy nor make it a point to watch foreign movies.
I bet if I sat down with the Finas board and ask them questions about Takashi Miike or Bekbametov or Bergman or Fellini or Tsai Ming Liang (who was a Malaysian) or Kitano or Kaige or Makmalbaf or Ozu or Kieslowski or Lynch or Godard or Polanksi or Luc Besson or Ray or Malick or Coen Brothers or Miyazaki or Almodovar or my personal favourite Von Trier, they would not be able to contribute anything to the conversation.
I'm sure that the board members know no more than one or two of these directors that I have mentioned. Even if they do, I am confident that they haven't even seen their works, and again if they had, I am sure they would have found the work inaccessible or acceptable as a work of art. Hahaha, I bet if they read my blog, they would google these names to find out who they are (but then again I don't know if they know what google is).
But if you ask them if they have seen Spielberg or Tarantino or Ang Lee or Lucas or Scott or de Palma - most probably they would have. They would think awhile to remember which movies these directors made but they would have actually seen them and rave about it. Because these are the kind of movies they watch and enjoy and hope Malaysian filmmakers would make.
These board members are also the people who would volunteer to attend and book their tickets to international film festivals. Yet they are so blur as to what world cinema is about. I dread the day when an international respected cinema journalist or critic interviews Dato' Mustafa Maarof or the outgoing chairman Tan Sri Jins Shamsuddin or even the current Finas KP Mahyuddin for their thoughts about the current state of world cinema or a simple question like "what do you think about Lars Von Trier?". What if they were asked if they had seen Von Trier's Dancer in the Dark or Dogville? Jeez, I bet they don't even know what country Von Trier is from. Hmmm Von? Is he German?
And the best thing is that (and this is true because I have heard previous board members say it and I assume their mentality is the same) they see no need for Malaysian filmmakers to watch these movies. Some would even consider them pornographic (one local award winning filmmaker said this of Oshima's Ballad of Narayama). So no need lah. We should instead emulate filmmakers like Vinod Chopra, Mani Ratnam, Stanley Tong andRakesh Rohan because they make filmmakers that they think Malaysians want to see.
And it is these people that hold the reins of our industry. These 'experts'.
No, I'm not saying that we should be making movies like Von Trier - no, that's not the answer to our ills.
What I'm saying is that there is a world of cinema that we can learn from and that these so-called guardians of Malaysian film should know of. Film is not about the summer blockbusters that come out of Hollywood nor the stylishly violent triad movies that come out of Hongkong nor the neevr ending dance and song movies of Bollywood.
Film is everything. Film is the world.
And we should be part of it. As an original member. Surely not as a lousy wannabe.
But on the other hand, if someone comes out to me and gave me a million to make a horror movie, I'd grab it without a second thought. Hahhahah.

Friday, August 22, 2008

QUICKIE POST

I'm stressed out. With Astro, with RTM and with the world. So just a few items in bullet form this time around:
  • My niece is getting married this Saturday (Tantiana). She acted in my Bilik No.13 episode entitled Kabus (with Nabila and Lily). So the whole ginbang gang is going - including my relatives from Singapore. Busy busy busy.
  • Bilik No 13 - season two went on air 9pm yesterday without much fanfare. Hope it will pick up viewers especially went it is going against Kekasihku Seru which is really popular.
  • I'm busy preparing film feature proposals for three parties. A horror film entitled Nini Towok, a drama entitled Diari Tanaka and a comedy entitled Filem Melayu Plastik. Another proposal already done waiting for buyers entitled Satay Wars.
  • Also preparing national PSA campaign for a certain Ministry - presentation on Tuesday.
  • Preparing business plan for setting up a film production company in Indonesia to produce Indonesian movies. Better ROI, better looking cast, better working conditions, better creative freedom. And the best thing - a fairer playing field. Why not?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

HAPPY SWEET 17TH DARLING DYLLA - MY ONE AND ONLY PRINCESS

My daughter, Adylla Lyanna, turns 17 today. My my my...time doth fly. I still remember her as my sweet chubby rotund cute lovable little girl. Now, she's tall, lanky, sometimes svelte, awkward, 5' 7" lady who can't wait to get her hands on a driver's licence.
She's very much into taking pics of herself and friends on her handphone and digital cam (heck...which girl doesn't? Alone or in a group, they'll always pose to take a one-handed-arm's length-hand-stretch-self-cam-shot of themselves).
Anyway, she's throwing a grand party tomorrow evening with her friends and cousins. I think 50 pax at last count. She didn't get to do her sweet 16th birthday last year, so this year she gets her wish. Nevertheless, she needs to party a little bit after getting the shock of her life last week when her name appeared for national service. She was gloooomy with a capital G.
So, darling Dylla, enjoy yourself cause after this you need to bury yourself in your books for your coming SPM. Me and mom love you to bits, and so does your three brothers okay?
You know we spoil you, but hehehe....don't bet on me letting you go on dates til you're 21...hehehehhe.
video
Happy Birthday.....hope you have great memories.
love
Papa

Monday, August 18, 2008

BILIK 13 - THE SECOND SEASON BEGINS!


The second season of Bilik No 13 begins this Thursday. We need the support of all fans to check this new season to make it another big hit.
Checking out the schedule, we have been given our previous usual slot - Thursdays 9 pm on TV2 - a primetime slot. But I also noticed that it is against Kabhir Bakhtiar's horror-romance series Kekasihku Seru. We shall see who wins.
Bilik 13 - second season - have also been given a previously unheard of PG-13 rating by the LPF. I applaud this decision because I too was worried about the content - especially for the younger viewers and fans.
This rating also confirms that the second season is quite scary. Well, most of it lah.
My favourites would be Jangan Lupa Tutup Tingkap, Peti, Samurai, Artifak and Ronggeng.
Don't forget! This Thursday - 9pm on TV2.

CONGRESS. WHAT CONGRESS???

Did anyone outside Johor Baru know that there was a National-level congress on the entertainment and performing arts industry being held?
If you check through the maintsream press, you might not. Unless I missed any coverage, there was hardly any words mentioned about the Congress organised by MAHKOTA.
This is sad, because whatever the shortcomings were, the Congress was surprisingly well organised. Only the attendance of quality participants can be queried.
As expected, the breakout sessions on the music industry was well attended and participated and also lively. Same can be said about the sessions on media and theater.
The sessions on film was dreary to say the least. At one session only less than a dozen people sat in the break-out session on film.
For those interested, below is some of the papers presented:
RUANG & PEMBANGUNAN MUZIK NEGARA - paper by Dato' Aziz Bakar, analysts - Saharudin Mustafa and Dato' Rahman Hassan.
PELAN INDUK PEMBANGUNAN FILEM - paper by Dato' Zain Hamzah, analysts - Anwardi Jamil and Raja Aznil.
PERANAN MEDIA DALAM PEMBANGUNAN INDUSTRI HIBURAN - paper by Musatafa Omar, analysts - Daud Wahid, Gopalkrishnan Anamalai
PEMBANGUNAN TEATER MALAYSIA - paper by Zakaria Ariffin, analysts - Ahmad Tarmimi Siregar, Khir Rahman
MUSIK SEBAGAI MATA PELAJARAN - paper by Joe Chelliah, analysts - Prof. Dr. Wan Zawawi, Dato' Aziz Bakar
KEBAJIKAN PENGAMAL FILEM - paper by Syed Mohd Hassan, analysts - Ahmad Ibrahim, Puad Onah.
PROFESSIONALISME DALAM KERJAYA MEDIA - paper by Zaini Hassan, analysts - Nantha Kumar, Khalim Rohani
MEMARTABATKAN MUZIK NEGARA - paper by Sandy Monteiro, anaysts - Dato' Manan Ngah, Ali Bakar.

Other presenters and analysts include Supiat Mukhtar, Zuhaila Siregar, Raja Azmi, Mamat Khalid and Prof Madya Adnan Hashim.
I didn't stay for the deliberations which was held on Sunday as I had to rush back to KL, but I hope the resolutions to be made are done professionally.
For those who wants copies of the papers, may request them from MAHKOTA.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

KONGRES KEBANGSAAN INDUSTRI HIBURAN DAN KESENIAN - DAY ONE

Today was the opening of the Congress. I arrived just after noon at Selesa Hotel which is situated along Jalan Tebrau in JB. As was expected, the lobby was full of entertainment personalities.
Checking in and registering was done without much hassle - a pleasant surprise.
I also got hold of the schedule, and from the looks of it, the Congress looks exciting - covering the various fields of entertainment and the arts - there are sessions on film, music, media, dance and theater.
Personalities from the music world seemed to have come in force (maybe because of MAHKOTA's chairman Dato Rahman Hassan involvement in the music industry). Throughout the afternoon I met quite a few old acquaintances and friends - Prof Dr Wan Zawawi from UKM, Ito formerly of Blues Gang, Manan Ngah, Dato Wah Idris, Dato Aziz Bakar and Joe Chelliah.
From the film industry - former FINAS DG Dato Zain Hamzah, Mansor Puteh, Ahmad Ibrahim, Mamat Khalid, Ahmad Tarmimi, Puad Onah from Grand Brilliance, Raja Azmi, Syed Mohammad and Dr Mahadi J. Murat.
What is sorely missing are representatives from the cinema, TV3, Astro, the Banks, LPF, the indie filmmakers, the younger generation of artistes and filmmakers (Hans Isaac, Adflin Shauki, James Lee, M. Subash).
The lack of actors and actresses make me wonder if the organisers think that artistes like Maya Karin, Fasha Sandha, Ida Nerina, Sofia Jane, Eman Manan, Zul Huzaimie and many others have got nothing to say about the state of the industry.
We need input from the younger generation because the industry will be theirs. We would be irresponsible to think that we can 'create' a future that is suitable for them without knowing their worries, their concerns and their aspirations.
But the most glaring absence to me was the Director General of FINAS - who, according to the organisers, was overseas on official business. Yeah right. Not sure who he sent as his representative.
Even the Deputy Director General of RTM, Dato' Adilah, made an effort to attend the Congress.
The opening ceremony was a straight forward and simple affair. It was held at the impressive JICC (Johore International Convention Center or PERSADA Johor). Johore's Chief Minister YAB Dato' Abdul Ghani Othman officiated the event and was proud that the Congress was being held in Johore Bharu.
Later in the evening, a dinner was held at the Selesa Hotel Ballroom and a good time was had by all and sundry. The seven course dinner was not that bad too.
Best thing about the dinner was that the live music was very traditional and Johore's famous zapin dance was also performed.
Dinner ended at 11 and everyone seems eager for the next day's sessions.
Tomorrow's event will be broken into four breakout sessions - film, music, media and theater/dance.
Amongst the presenters include Dato Zain Hamzah, Zakaria Ariffin, Mustafa Omar, Dato' Aziz Bakar and old friend Adnan Hashim (of Uitm Mass Comm faculty).
I will be commenting on and analysing Dato Zain Hamzah's paper along with a friend YM Raja Aznil.
His paper is entitled Perlu kah Satu Lagi Pelan Induk Pembangunan Industri Filem. What? Another white paper on the state of the film industry? Never!!!!
Let's see if this Congress will go the way of previous seminars which were just exercises in futility or surprise me and make my three hour drive to JB worth my while.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

NATIONAL ENTERTAINMENT AND ARTS INDUSTRY CONGRESS

Fuhhh that sounds so important doesn't it? It even sounds better in Malay - Kongres Industri Hiburan and Kesenian Nasional. Sends shivers down your spine. It is being organised by MAHKOTA (Majlis Perunding Industri Hiburan dan Kesenian Tanah Air) - another body that exists in the entertainment industry sphere. I've lost count - there's GAFIM, PPFM, PFM, Seniman, FDAM, Karyawan, PAPITA, Penyiar, SWAM etc etc etc.
And yet, the industry is still stagnant. Hohum.
Last week's so-called seminar, which was part of the Malaysian Festival Film schedule was a sham to say the least. So, what will this congress be any better?
Hmmm...to tell you the truth, I don't know. I will be there. I have been invited to be a 'pengupas' of a paper being presented by Dato Zain Hamzah, the former Director General of FINAS.
I have read the paper emailed to me, and on Friday, I will be 'kupasing' the paper....oh yes, the paper's title is "Is there a need to have another central national plan for the film industry".
Hehehe..and I will be 'kupasing' it a lot. Don't worry, I will be posting the goings on of the congress here. One cannot really aspect much from this congress but one can hope - hope that at least this intellectual discourse will be illuminating and that it would achieve something.
The congress will begin on Friday at the Selesa Hotel along Jalan Tebrau in JB. Amongst the personalities that will be presenting papers or commenting on the papers include Prof Wan Zawawi (UKM), Dr Ghouse, Sandy Monteiro, Aziz Bakar, Ahmad Tarmimi, Adman Salleh and Raja Aznil. It ends on Sunday.

Monday, August 11, 2008

THE MAN BEHIND SHAFT'S THEME SONG IS GONE

There has been many iconic theme songs from the movies - Jaws, James Bond theme, Indiana Jones, Star Wars to name a few. And right up there with the most memorable is the theme from Shaft. It was written and composed by Isaac Hayes.
Hayes or Black Moses passed away yesterday at age 65. Blaxploitation movies would not have been the same if not for Isaac Hayes' theme from Shaft.
Rest In Peace.
Below is a video of his concert in Germany.

Isaac Hayes - Shaft

[via FoxyTunes / Isaac Hayes]

Sunday, August 10, 2008

SELAMAT PENGANTIN BARU

My former secretary, Jazilah (at Paxelent Corp from 1998-2008), got hitched. She found her soul mate named Jamsari about a year ago. Great match - J n J.
The wedding was held at her parents' house in Gombak Setia yesterday. She looked radiant and very very happy.
At Malay weddings, you usually talk about three things - the groom or bridegroom, the pelamin and of course the food.
I just want to talk about the food - four dishes - beef rendang, ayam masak merah, dalcha and acar. With nasi minyak. It was excellent!!! If not for my reflux I would have gobbled up more than the three helpings I had.
Anyway, selamat pengantin baru, Jazz and Jams.

TAYANGAN UNGGUL WINS BIG! MAMAT HITS THE BIGTIME

Nobody could have predicted the results. No one. My own predictions (on how the jury might vote) was also far from the mark. I got only the following right:
Hans Isaac for Best New Director
Erynne Erynna for Best Child Actor
Maya Karin for Best Actress
Sharon Paul for Best Original Score

I was surprised that Kala Malam Bulan Mengambang would win big - Best Film, Best Director (Mamat Khalid) and Best Actor (Rosham Nor). It also won for Best Art Direction and Costume.
It was a huge night for Tayangan Unggul who also won Best Original Story for Anak Halal (Osman Ali).
I'm not sure if the results are considered controversial, but I am sure Mamat's win is a much welcome surprised.
The victory I'm sure made a lot of people squirm, especially Finas who I heard gave Mamat a hard time when he tried to get funding for his latest movie entitled Estet.
There's also this frustrated filmmaker who really criticised KMBM as a piece of crap. In fact, this guy has been attacking Mamat's film since day one. I'm sure he will be writing negative comments about this win by Mamat.
I personally may not agree with the results (I think the third act of KMBM had a lot of problems) but nevertheless, the award couldn't have gone to a more nicer guy.
Congratulations Mamat. Congratulations Gaya and gang.
A little something about the event itself. I think this year's award ceremonies was by far the most boring ever conceptualised and executed. If not for the existence of the UITM and Aswara students in the audience, I think there would hardly be anyone applauding.
It was that bad.
The show was also full of free plugs for upcoming movies. It opened with plugs for Sayang You Can Dance and Estet. Bad move guys.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

080808080808! Thank you Yimou!

At 8 minutes 8 seconds past 8pm, on the 8th day of the 8th month in the year of '08, the Beijing Olympics was unveiled in the Birds' Nest Stadium in Beijing. And what an opening ceremony it was! For me, in the many opening ceremonies I have seen in my 50 years, it was easy the most spectacular and most extravagant.
I watched in awe of the technology behind the ceremony, the visualisation and the execution. And then it hit me, the man who was behind this vision was a filmmaker - the great Zhang Yimou - one of my favourite filmmakers of all time.
In fact, I am sure he had utilised his art directors and costume designers in the whole scheme, and from the picture below you might have actually think that it was a still from one of his elaborate movies.

For those who don't know who Zhang Yimou is - he is the director of Raise The Red Lantern, To Live, Story of Qiu Ju, Hero, Curse of the Golden Flower and House of Flying Daggers.
After watching this ceremony, maybe the authorities in Malaysia, may actually appoint a filmmaker (local or foreign) to conceptualise some of the events we hold every year. Our Merdeka ceremony celebrations, for example, is stale and not impressive in its execution. Hopefully, we can see something as creative and impressive being executed here.

Friday, August 8, 2008

FADING TO BLACK - OUR MORTALITY

At certain times of life, we are faced with our own mortality. A friend, a relative or a loved one dies, and you stop and think about your own mortality.
In Islam, our mortality exists so as to prepare ourselves for the hereafter. Well and good. But what we must not forget is that we must also prepare, for our loved ones that we leave behind, stability. That too is our responsibility.
I am now reaching my half a century, and I see everyday, signs of our mortality.
In my family circle, my grandmother passed away a year and a half ago.
My wife's grandmother passed away in our house nearly 8 years ago.
Close relatives too have gone to meet their maker over the pass few years. My wife's cousin just recently lost his loving wife to the big C a month ago.
My close cousin, who was the same age as I was, also died of cancer, about four years ago. He was doing very well in the hospitality industry when he was diagnosed with nasal cancer which spread to his brain. From diagnosis to death - six months.
Another cousin of mine in Singapore was also recently diagnose with cancer of the colon, but has had an operation. I wish him well and hope he recovers completely. He too is the same age as I. Scary.
Friends too come and ago. Classmates, dorm mates, school mates and college mates. Too many to count. Office colleagues too - all called back too early.
How does one mitigate this mortality factor in one's mindset. Most friends - Melayu lah - figure that by doing the Umrah or performing the Haj puts one in readiness to face one's mortality. Well, I've done my Umrah...and am still not ready.
Some say at my age, we should all taubat and reflect on the things that we had done - good and bad - and commit ourselves in service to Allat swt. Excellent idea! Yet, I still procrastinate.
There are still so many things I want to do in life. So many countries to visit. So many greens to put. So many sights to see. So many buffets to bite into. So many people to know. So many ideas to put to script and film. Yet facing our mortality, we know we cannot achieve all that we want to do it one lifetime.
I envy those who has the means to do a lot in his one lifetime. Lucky devils.
Whilst the kampung folks go in pursuit of pahla to prepare for everlasting peace in the Hereafter, city folks rush in pursuit of wealth and power in the Here and Now. Some really filthy rcih buggers just build mosques to cleanse away their sins forever cause they believe that anytime anyone prays in the mosque that they build, their sins are washed away bit by bit. Haiya, I don't even have money to build a small surau! This is not fair lah!
Anyway, my mother has actually built a nice little mosque in her village in Sungei Geringging in Pariamman, Padang, Sumatra. So I guess, she's safe.
Now, knowing that we will not be here forever, have you thought about what are you will leaving behind? What is your legacy?
My father has tons - books, films, awards etc. He is part of our country's film history. Unlike me, an insignificant cog in a giant wheel controlled by many who doesn't really care where our film industry is heading.
We are in the end just mortals. When we die, people cry, they sob. At the most for a few hours. A insignifcant obituary in mankind's tapestry. And life goes on. The circle repeats.
Mortals. That's who we are.

WHY I DID NOT ATTEND THE OPENING OF THE FILM FESTIVAL

The official opening of the Malaysian Film Festival was held last night (Thursday 7th August) at the Alamanda Mall in Putrajaya.
I didn't attend. I was invited. But of course, the officials and members of the organising committees invited me verbally when I met them at the symposiun held earlier at the National Art Gallery.
So, I was contemplating of going. Even the heavy thunderstorm and the massive traffic jams cannot deter me from heading towards Putrajaya.
But then I received a call from a friend. He said: "Hey come join me for dinner. Thongchai Jaidee will be there."
Damn....should I go to Putrajaya where all the beautiful glam people gather for the opening ceremony or go to Bangsar to have dinner with Thongchai Jaidee (pic below) - the best golfer to have emerged from this region?

Actually, it wasn't much of a dilemma. I was in Bangsar in a jiffy and had dinner with the Thai golf sensation.
He was in Kuala Lumpur participating in the Selangor Masters held at Seri Selangor Golf Course. He is currently the two day leader and scored a magnificent 8 under on the second day. I listened in awe as he described how he conquered the Par 5 18th. He drove his tee shot to about 125 meters of the green and hit his second with a wedge which sailed over the pin. Jeez...this is the hole that I am happy to be on in five strokes. And he was talking about over shooting it in two! Damn!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

THE FESTIVAL BEGINS - WITH A PFFFFTTT!!!

If the symposium on Malaysian film industry held today at the National Art Gallery is anything to gauge the standard of the festival by, then we are in for a lousy time.
I have been to many seminars, symposiums, workshops - all around the world - and this symposium today, is by far, the worse I have attended.
The quality of the panel is questionable to say the least, and none had anything to say that was worthy of note. It was a sheer waste of time and money for all concerned.
For example, there was one panelist who said he could define an Islamic movie in two hours, and then there was this genius who saw fault with everyone but his first movie which he said would make RM10 million at the box office. He also said he has the solution to the ills of the local film industry and the answer to that is to place 1000 kiosks around the nation so that the masses can preview movies and buy tickets through the kiosks. The interesting aspect is that he wants members of the public to invest RM10,000 for each kiosk (of course there's the beautiful ROI story that the 10k will bring you 25k or some such profits in the very near future).
This kiosk thing sounds just like the direct marketing scheme which offers kiosk that dispenses mineral water and also the kiosk that dispenses pre-paid phone cards (but those kiosks are Rm40k each for the gullible investor).
By calculating the business, the guy makes RM10 million cash if he manages to finds suckers to fork our RM10,000 each for 1,000 kiosks. Sad, because most of the kiosks may only cost about RM3k each (I should know - I was a pioneer in interactive multimedia kiosks).
But for the guy to try and sell his kiosk concept at a symposium that was supposed to delve into the ills of the film industry, was to say the least, uncalled for.
Not only that, a representative of JAWI also presented a paper, to promote Islamic values in filmmaking. I thought this was a Malaysian Film Industry seminar - not a seminar in pursuit for the perfect Islamic film or even Malay film. No wonder there was hardly any non-Malays attending the seminar.
For those who didn't even know that the symposium actually marked the beginning of the three day Malaysian Film Festival, it was held at the National Art Gallery at 10 am this morning. About 50 people attended. Very few familiar faces attended - amongst them - Ahmad Ibrahim, Tengku Annuar Musaddad, Raja Azmi, Mansor Puteh, Yusof Mohd. I didn't see any artistes nor any of the younger directors. Of course, the FINAS board members were there in full force - I guess to see their handiwork and then praise themselves for a job well done. Jeez.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ABAH!

Happy Birthday Abah! You turn 82 today.
Yes, your birth date carries much significance. In 1945 on August 6, the Yanks drop a 'little' boy on Hiroshima. It marked the beginning of the Nuclear Age - an age that brings fear and consternation to all peace loving people. A few days later, they drop another little gift on Nagasaki. In all I think more than 50,000 people died in the two attacks.
Yes, it caused the Japanese to surrender and the end of the Second World War - A fact - that history has already proved - was already moot. Anyway, that's history and we just hope that we don't repeat such acts again. In fact, until today, throughout history, only the Americans have exploded a nuclear device in another country that has killed civilians. No one else has. Not the Russians. Not the Chinese. Not the North Koreans. Nor the Pakistanis. Nor the Iraqis under Saddam nor any 'rogue' Islamic countries. Only the great U.S. of A!
But I digress.
Also in AD 610, around August 6, the Prophet Muhammad pbuh, to him, was revealed the first words, from the angel Gabriel, of the Koran during his solitary time in the caves of Mt. Hira. Thus marked the beginning of the glorious religion of Islam.
So, it is an auspicious date.
Others who share the same birthdate include Lord Tennyson, Alexander Fleming, Lucille Ball, Robert Culp, Andy Warhol, Dato' Michelle Yeoh and M. Night Shyamalan. My abah is in good company.
Grandpa and the kids. From Left Diandra, Adylla, Abadi and Iliya. Seated in white tees is Nurhadi.
He has been a great Dad. Strict, responsible and loving. He can be very patient, and yet very demanding. He is one of a kind. And to have a father that is very creative, loved by family and friends, is really a gift. I may not have been the perfect son, but to me he has been the perfect father.
Happy Birthday Abah. I love you.

Monday, August 4, 2008

AND THEN THE NOMINATIONS ARE IN...JENG JENG JENGGG!

My prediction is a little off. This is the official nomination list. I got shot down with my Best Actor and Actress - Hati Malaya cast was not nominated at all for this category.
What is also surprising is that two highly educated directors got left out of the Best Director category - Associate Professor (since 2001) Razak Mahideen and Dr Annuar Nur Arai.
I coloured my new predictions in red. Please note that this prediction is not based on merit - not my CHOICE - but instead who I think the jury will be selecting.

Best Director:
1. Hatta Azad Khan - Wayang
2. Shuhaimi Baba - 1957 Hati Malaya
3. Ahmad Idham - Congkak
4. Mamat Khalid - KMBM
5. Osman Ali - Anak Halal

Best Actor:

1. Afdlin Shauki - Sepi
2. Adlin Aman Ramlie - Susuk
3. Rosyam Nor - KMBM
4. Eman Manan - Wayang
5. Farid Kamil - Anak Halal

Best Actress:

1. Maya Karin - Anak Halal
2. Erra Fazira - Anak
3. Fazura - Kayangan
4. Nasha Aziz - Otai
5. Vanidah Imran - Akhirat

Best Screenplay:

1. Wayang - Hatta Azad Khan
2. KMBM - Mamat Khalid
3. Sepi - Ara & Mira Mustaffa
4. Anak Halal - Osman Ali
5. Cuci - Hans Isaac

Best Story:

1. Wayang - Hatta Azad Khan
2. KMBM - Mamat Khalid
3. Sepi - Ara & Mira Mustaffa
4. Anak Halal - Osman Ali
5. Pensil - M.Subash

Best Cinematography:

1. Evolusi KL Drift - Raja Mukhriz Raja Ahmad Kamarudin
2. Sepi - Mohd Nor Kassim
3. Susuk - Daven Raghaven
4. Kayangan - Raja Mukhriz
5. Anak Halal - Khalid Zakaria

Best Editor:

1. 1957 Hati Malaya - Nik Haslinda Nik Hussain / Kamarudin Abu
2. Wayang - Hafiz Kamaruzaman
3. Congkak - Ahmad Mustadha
4. KMBM - Raja Affandi Raja Jamaludin
5. Sepi - Johan Bahar

Best Original Score:

1. Wayang - Hafiz Askiak
2. KMBM - Ahmad Badaruddin
3. Susuk - Hardesh Singh
4. Anak Halal - Nurzaidi Abdul Rahman
5. 1957 Hati Malaya - Sharon Paul


Best Art Direction:

1. 1957 Hati Malaya - Aida Fitri Buyong / Kamarul Nizam Abd Rahman
2. KMBM - Nazrul Ashraff
3. Susuk - Kek Ting Lam
4. Johnny Bikin Filem - Dr. Anuar Nor Arai
5. Anak Halal - Irwanmazwan Ibrahim

Best Child Actor:

1. Erynne Erynna - Congkak
2. Amrul Hisham - Anak
3. Mohd Asrah Akis - Wayang
4. Mohd Asrah Afif - Wayang
5. Erin Malek - Congkak

Pengarah Harapan (Hopeful Director? or Director with most hope?):

1. Hans Isaac - Cuci
2. M.Subash - Pensil
3. Mohd Latif Zami - Dunia Baru The Movie
4. Syamsul Yusof - Evolusi KL Drift
5. Barney Lee - Anak

So Hati Malaya will still win the most awards with Anak Halal being its only serious competitor. However, Grand Brilliance might push all out to make sure its Sepi wins more than just a couple that night. We shall see. Rank outsiders - Wayang and KMBM.

THE SWORDFISH, THEN THE CONCUBINE

If you guys happened to give the Film Festival Malaysia a miss (like about 23 million people will be), why not take a drive (I know, I know fuel prices are sick. But hey when you have to travel you just have to) down to Singapore for the Arts Festival there.
And if you do, give my friend's play a look see. The Swordfish, Then The Concubine, written by Kee Thuan Chye, will be staged from the 6th to 10th August at the Drama Center.

The location of the Drama Centre Theatre is:
100 Victoria Street
National Library Building
Level 3 (Drama Centre Theatre)
Singapore 188064

The Swordfish, Then The Concubine is Kee's take on the old Malay fable of Singapura Di Langgar Todak. Am not quite sure which fable the concubine part comes from but from the synopsis, it might be from the legend of Mahsuri from the island of Langkawi...but I could be wrong.
Kee Thuan Chye - true blue Malaysian playwright
Nevertheless, I am sure, one can read between the lines from Kee's play. Whilst the Singaporeans may think the play has relevance to their current political society, Malaysians too can read many things into it. Trust me, you will never be treated to anything mediocre from Mr Kee.
You can also see Kee in the upcoming second season of TV2 series Bilik No 13 episode entitled Peti.
Will I be going? I'm trying to. I don't feel like attending FFM 21, so if I skip that, I may be able to check out Kee's play either on the 9th or on its final night on the 10th.

GUESS WHICH MOVIE WILL BE VOTED BEST FILM?

A little leak came trickling to my ears recently. It seems, that during the pre-judging discussion between the organisers and the jury panel for the Best Film award, someone told them that the criteria for Best Film should be a film that has strong patriotic and cultural themes. Hmmmm....imagine the statement being made to the voters of the American Oscar awards - you guys must vote a movie that has strong patriotic themes - damn, if this had happened the last three movies that won Best Film - Dreamgirls, The Departed and No Country For Old Men would never have had a chance.
Now, surprisingly in this week's Filem Festival Malaysia (Part 21), there is one film that fits the criteria to a T. Only one. 1957: Hati Malaya directed by Shuhaimi Baba.
Now, would this box office failure garner the Best Film award? I'm sure it will. The only movies that could give it a run for its money are Sepi and Anak Halal. However, both films do not comply with the 'organisers' request that the Best Film must have a patriotic theme - obvious or otherwise.
Heck, in my opinion, all these films shouldn't win the Best Film award because the best film isn't even participating....because it was shot digitally and was in Mandarin.
On the other hand, there is a movie that none of us has seen - Wayang, a college financed movie directed by Dr Hatta Azad Khan, that may be in with a shout. The script had won a past screenplay competition organised by Finas.
So, as the organisers mull over the awards - how could they not give the Best Film to Hati Malaya - a movie that revolves around our efforts to win our national independance? Don't care lah if it is lousy - it has a great patriotic theme. And it costs a bundle too. It MUST win!
Or why not give the award to Wayang - a culturally safe movie, directed by a former Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka officio from a script that has won a Finas organised script competition (so maybe the screenplay award is a foregone conclusion) and since this movie is one that is financed by a college and has yet to be screened (a win would definitely give the movie a boost at the box office).
Furthermore, I won't even imply that the Finas DG is related to someone in the production of Hati Malaya. That would be hitting under the belt. I'm sure that has not bearing at all on the results.
I mean imagine the same kind of accusation be leveled at it as when my movie Ah Lok Kafe won an award for Best Child actor. It became a controversy because the person presiding over the Jury (even though he abstained) was accused of bias (his sin was that he also acted in the same movie).
He duly resigned from the Presidency of the Association of Film Producers due to this incident.
You see, the local film industry can be very petty. The powers that be can't see forest for the trees. And for most times too, we are all living in denial. We don't believe that we are so far behind in terms of cinematic achievement and quality as compared to our neighbours.
And the hype about going global, breaking into the global market, is just hype.
So, here again we celebrate another festival, another year of dishing out awards to movies that won't even make a dent at major world festivals, and another year of mendabik dada and claim that we have arrived. Arghhhhhhh!
Anyway, here is my prediction:
Best Film: 1957 Hati Malaya
Best Director: Shuhaimi Baba
Best Screenplay: Wayang (guessing)
Best New Director: Hans Isaac
Best Actor: Someone from Sepi
Best Actress: Someone from Sepi
Best Cinematography: Congkak
Best Supporting Actress: Someone from Hati Malaya
Best Supporting Actor: Someone from Wayang (guessing here)
Best Editing: Impak Maksima
Best Art Direction: Hati Malaya
Best Child Actor: Ezrynne for Congkak
Jury Award: Hati Malaya for best patriotic theme film
Akhirat for best film to touch on a social issue (AIDS)
Duyung for best film to utilise CG and best box office performance for 2007

Sunday, August 3, 2008

JAKARTA JAKARTA JAKARTA

The camera assistant takes care of the camera and no one else.
I just came back from Jakarta. A little business and lots golf. Four days three nights.
When I was there, I managed to drop by a friend's movie production set (A Malaysian invested-movie) entitled Teman Untuk Selamanya. Amongst the stars were Pierre Andre and Julia Ziegler.

It is basically an Indonesian movie for the Indonesian movie market directed by an Indonesian with Malaysian funds.
Pierre on a phone call break.
Pierre and Julia are just two of the artistes in a big cast.
From what I heard, the movie is inspired by the films of P. Ramlee - and therefore a contemporary version of Bujang Lapok.

Why would a Malaysian invest in a movie in Indonesia? Why not? The censors are less stifling. The creative urge can run rampant. The market is bigger (reports said 7 million viewers caught Ayat-Ayat Cinta). The cost is not much different - around RM1.5 to RM2 million, but with a better return of investment prospect. The artistes (actors and actresses) are more numerous and more talented and more professional. The actresses? More beautiful. The crew? More professional and hardworking - for example - the crew on this production I visited had 100 over professionals working on it (excluding the cast).
Maybe, the investors and producers of Malay movies should follow the lead of this producer and just forget of financing movies here. Maybe we should form a consortium with the top distributors in Indonesia - pool in about RM50 million to produce movies that we have been dreaming of and that we can't over here.
The bottomline is that making movies is business. And if you want to make movies with less risk (meaning making movies in Malaysia) you should really think about making movies in Indonesia.
Now back to Jakarta. To most Malaysian golfers, Jakarta is like a little heaven for them - great golf courses - too many to count (including those in Bogor, Bandung, Tangerang and Bumi Serpong).
The quaint durian blue tee-box in Rancamaya Golf Club course.
I have friends who would demand to include Bogor Raya golf course in their itinerary - why? Because the caddies are supposed to be beauties. Yeah so what? Heck, nearly every Jakarta golf course have a bevy of beauties as their caddies - but who needs beauties who can't tell you the lie of the course properly and help you in your game? I would rather win my bets against my friend with a knowledgeable and professional caddie rather than a beautiful one who only knows how to carry the wrong clubs.
Damai Indah Golf Club in Bumi Serpong, for example, has both. Pretty caddies who are actually good in their profession as caddies.
Colorful caddies from Damai Indah Bumi Serpong.
They read the greens properly and offer you good advice on the club selection along the fairways, and they are not bad for the eyes too.
But for Sunday golfers who couldn't care less, they should head to the courses in Jakarta where the caddies do not wear bras! Yup..really. The clubs only offer male caddies who don't wear bras. Hahaha.




EXCITING DAYS AHEAD....

August is gonna be one helluva month. In a few days time, RTM is gonna announce the nominees for various categories for this year's Anugerah Seri Angkasa (our local version of the Emmies). The announcement will be held at the One World hotel on Wednesday afternoon.
It is also the day my father turns 82. Yup, he was born August 6 1926. Is the date familiar? Well, many years ago, the Yanks dropped a bomb on Hiroshima. Killed thousands of innocent civilians in a blink of an eye. It expedited the end of a war that was going to end anyway.
Then on the 7th, there is a seminar that is part of the Malaysian Film Festival awards' calendar. It will be held at the National Art Gallery. The names mentioned are names I have not heard of.
The next day, another talk or seminar will be held at The Star auditorium - with a title that goes something like "Malay movies not going anywhere..." with panelists that include Adflin Shauki, Hans Isaac, Ida Nerina, Vanida Imran and David Teo - all very important people in the local film industry.
But on the same day, on Astro, you get to see the opening of the Beijing Olympics! Yes, the Olympics are back again.
Then on the 9th, the FFM 21 awards night where we are going to see Shuhaimi Baba's movie 1957: Hati Malaya being the undeserved winner of many awards.
My daughter's 17th birthday falls on the 19th and my eldest son's on the 25th. And my 25th wedding anniversary on the 28th August.
And of course the English Premiere League begins again this month - one more year of suffering for Liverpool fans once again under the so-called genius of Benitez.
All these happening with Ramadhan looming only 30 days away.