Sunday, May 10, 2009

SMFS - Singapore Malay Film Society - the legitimate heirs to the Jalan Ampas legacy

The Malaysian film industry has a historical link to the film industry that began in Jalan Ampas in the early 50s. From the Golden Era of the MFP and Cathay Keris productions, the remnants of that 'industry' came to Kuala Lumpur to work with the newly opened merdeka Studios. It was here that the Malay film industry of Malaysia was reborn.

The Malay film industry in Singapore was left in tatters and subsequently died.

Years have passed. Decades. And now we see a new generation of filmmakers from Singapore that are making headlines around the world = they include Jack Neo and Eric Khoo. But these filmmakers have no link to Jalan Ampas.

Now, a group of youngsters - all short filmmakers - and all of them Malays - are trying to make their presence known in Singapore. Not only amongst the Malay population of the island Republic, but also regionally and internationally through festivals.

They have grouped together and called themselves SMFS - Singapore Malay Film Society.
They are young, talented and dedicated to their craft.

I met them a couple of days ago, trying to understand their mission, vision and their aspirations. Being a filmmaker in Singapore is not a fantastic career to pursue, more so if you are Malay.

Jobs are few and far between - and mostly from Suria channel and with some funding assistance from MDA. So most of them still keep their day jobs, whilst pursuing their dream as filmmakers.

As for Singapore Malay feature films, it doesn't yet exist. However, I was informed by the society's founding president, Isnor Dzulkarnain, that there are two Malay feature films in development with Malays at the helm - one a commercial endeavour whilst the other one a brave attempt at full feature film meant for festivals overseas.

Founding members of the fledgling SMFS
Do visit their website at

The website is professionally maintained as is the management of the society - unlike many of the associations that blanket our own film industry.

On their website, you be able to view some of the short films the group members have made. And believe me, these guys have talent.

After talking with them, and understanding their goals, I believe that these young Malay filmmakers are the legitimate heirs to the Jalan Ampas legacy. They are pursuing a very focused and idealistic goal - to create a a voice for Malay filmmakers in Singapore - the birthplace of Malay films.

This is a voice I have been waiting for a long time. And the content that they create is vastly different from that being produced over here.

To tell you the truth, I enjoyed my conversation with them - they are intelligent, respectful and very independent-minded. What came out of their mouths make more sense than many of the Drs and Associate Professors and the many so called film intellectuals in our film industry.

I hope to bring them to Kuala Lumpur, to allow them to exchange ideas and share their experiences with us in Malaysia. If it happens, I will definitely mention it in my blog.

Right now they are planning an event that will seal their legitimate claim to be Jalan Ampas's true heirs. I will detail the event if and when it happens.


muteaudio said...

Do tell me if they're up here in KL.

Sanif Olek said...

dear Mr Anwardi,
Thank you so much for meeting us in Singapore and acknowledging us in your blog! So many interesting things are happening. Kita boleh!