SMFS: The Curse of Niyang Rapik Press Conference

I arrived at Eng Wah Suntec to see a string of crowd hanging around the box-office. Most of the crowd were teenage girls and some arrived with their boyfriends, making them stick out like a sore thumb.

The individual interviews were scheduled at 3pm, but due to traffic conditions, the cast and crew of The Curse of Niyang Rapik arrived a little late. I came into the press conference room, caught the eye of one of the cast, smiled and then quietly sat down with my Caramel Frappe from Starbucks. I quickly learnt that they were still having the mini press conference with winners from a Berita Harian (BH) competition.

I surveyed the table; Shahiezy Sam, Kamal Adli, Ahmad Idham and Awal Ashaari all looked tired but they managed to keep their smiles for the fans. You could see that the trio of actors – Shahiezy, Kamal and Awal – was the freshest face in Malaysian cinema. All three were tall, handsome and had a distinct character, not to mention that they are all still in their twenties and single – to the fans, at least.

Who can resist Awal Ashaari’s charming personality?

Kamal Adli looking cool while the interview takes place.

Ahmad Idham being interview by SMFS Journalist Nurul ‘Ain.

Shahiezy, dressed in a t-shirt and jeans combo with a gray leather jacket, would probably blend well with the crowd at Orchard Road together with his black wayfarer sunglasses. Kamal, the youngest of the trio at 24 years old, looked trendy with his colourful high-cut sneakers while Awal, probably the most sought after by the fans, was dressed for a concert complete with a checkered shirt and black vest. Ahmad Idham, Malaysia’s top film director, arrived in a casual combo looking smart and ‘abang-abang’ as usual. He was all smiles and ready to release his third horror film in Singapore.

Shahiezy Sam thinking hard about ‘Ain’s questions.

When asked what was the inspiration for The Curse of Niyang Rapik, Ahmad Idham simply said the location brought the story alive. “I go fishing at Kenyir once every four months, just to relax and be cut off from the hectic city life. So the last time I went there, I said to myself – I want to make a film here.”

Malaysians are all too familiar with Puaka Niyang Rapik, a hit TV3 horror series produced by Ahmad Idham as well. So it comes as no surprise that The Curse of Niyang Rapik would follow closely to the genre of thriller, adventure and horror. By my standards, The Curse of Niyang Rapik is the best horror film Metrowealth has ever produced, even better than Santau and Jangan Pandang Belakang.

From left: Isnor, Shahiezy, Awal, Me, Ain, Ahmad Idham, Kamal and Saiful.

I’ll let you guys YouTube the trailer for now, and oogle and the pictures which I know some of you might want to kill me for. I think I may already need a bodyguard, don’t you think?

Look out for a review from the SMFS Journalists tomorrow and a new SMFS column by yours truly next week on Monday.

The Curse of Niyang Rapik is released on 13 May 2010.

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SMFS: Purnama 2 Finale (17 October 2009)

A week has passed and so did Purnama 2. From rushing for the completion of my Rikyu essay to spending an hour on make up, the Saturday of 17 October was certainly a night to remember. Apart from the rumours running around like wildfire and failed red carpet glamour, Purnama was a huge success.

The Singapore Malay Film Society (SMFS) team arrived early to set up and prepare the necessary items needed for the night. We had a registration table at the 5th level of The Cathay, complete with flowers courtesy of Liz Fleur, programme booklets, tickets and of course, the pretty ladies of SMFS to serve the guests. Reception went pretty well, I must say. 120 seats were filled up, including the guests SMFS invited. We had the honour of hosting Purnama 2 to the J.A. Halim family, Cikgu Yusnor Ef, judges Lim Yu Beng and Sanif Olek. Even Singapore Director Tan Pin Pin dropped by to watch the screenings!

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One of the guests signing the guest book.

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Even Mr X-Factor Effandi Mohamed came! Read about Effandi’s adventure as a visual effects artist at Dneg here.

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This is not staged, I was genuinely ushering the guests over to the other door.

Watching the films, as usual, gave me chills over my spine – in a good way that is. Everytime I watch a local film production, I say to myself, “Heck this is awesome!” If you were sitting next to me in the cinema, you’d probably notice my mouth drooling over the film. Like literally, because jaw just drops each time I watch something that transfixed my eyes. In Malay terms, my mulut selalu ternganga. I’ll post a review of the films in another entry, because I just have too many things about them. OH and I watched Shingoporu Monogatari for the second time! And I met Hafidz again! Hee hee!

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Pretty plaques for the awardees!

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Among those present – Lim Yu Beng, Rafaat Hamzah and Cikgu Yusnor Ef

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If Amalia Yunus were start a whole new series of children show, I want to be part of it! She’s a really bubbly character and her love for children led her to winning the Most Promising Director Award.

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Special Mention Awardees: Ghazi Al-Qudcy (left) and Ezzam Rahman (right). But hey, they’re no stranger to local film screenings man! Read more about them here.

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Special Mention Awardee: Hafidz Senor. If you haven’t read my interview with Hafidz, then read it here.

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Wan citing his reasons for choosing a Chinese actor to play the part of a Japanese soldier, when at the same time, using English and Australian actors to play the part of British and Australian soldiers respectively.

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Yazid aka Farid came down for Purnama 2 as well!

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Isnor giving away the token of appreciation to Cikgu Yusnor Ef.

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Awardees with Cikgu Yusnor Ef.

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A film screening is not complete without a photo-taking session!

For a film festival that is only in its second year run, Purnama 2 is certainly a motivation for us to continue our efforts in bringing back Malay films to the silver screens. Our efforts may be small, but we’ll get to our dreams someday. For now, it is important that we have faith in our community to produce more films, be it short or feature films, so that we can say Malay films in Singapore still exist.

Insyallah.

SMFS: Purnama 2 Day I Screenings

So Purnama is baaaaaccckkkkk!!!!!

The Singapore Malay Film Society (SMFS) had its annual short-film festival last Thursday, and Purnama 2 is set to be even better than last year’s Purnama! This year, SMFS is holding a three-day screening to showcase talents from our Malay community on 8, 12 and 17 October 2009. Here are some snippets of the first screening held last Thursday at the Substation.

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Pretty Purnama 2 programme booklets!

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Posing/Cam-whoring while briefing.

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Pretty, right? Done by yours truly, sponsored by Linda!

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Audience! Spot Sarah, Nani and Izzati!

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The QnA Session led by our curator, Ghazi Al-Qudcy. Catch Ghazi’s directorial debut on Suria’s Sewa on Monday Nights and 9.30pm.

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Filmmakers, actors and funnymen. Second from the right, Hafiz Huzaifah, the director of Stress Management. A funny Mat instructional film that led me questioning the Mat culture.

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Crew!!

I’ll leave you all begging for more, so in the mean time, come down to the Substation today at 7.30pm for the round two of the screenings!

Tickets for the finals cum awards screening on 17 October 2009, 1930 hrs, can be purchased at the Substation today, or reserved via email to shamsydar@smfs.sg or roslinda@smfs.sg.

Hope to see you there!

SMFS: KL Trippin’ with the Oldies

Do not be fooled by the title of this post. When I say ‘oldies’, I meant veterans, not the old young people I went with. Last month, a few of us from the Singapore Malay Film Society (SMFS) went on a road trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Our main objective of crossing the Causeway for the weekend was to meet up with the veterans of Studio Jalan Ampas – Dato’ Aziz Sattar and Tan Sri Jins Shamsudin – to find out the 5Ws and 1H of working with the greatest Malay entertainer ever, the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee. We also wanted to know how it was like being in the Singapore film industry in its heyday.

Now I know many of you are mourning over the death of Michael Jackson. I am sad too, but even sadder that I did not get to live in the era P.Ramlee’s music. It seems that talented people leave the world even before they are done with their dream.

Oh well, the good die young, aye?

Anyways, on the first day, the five of us caught up with Anwardi Jamil, and his producer friend, Tom Ali, at Lotus, a 1-mintute walk from our PNB Darby Park Aparment. We talked about the film industry in Malaysia and Singapore, as well as how we can further improve the linkage between the two countries’ film industry. It’s not everyday that you get to meet industry insiders who have done large scale production for television and the big screen – well, at least for me. Since I was with the abang-abang of SMFS, they were not as jakun as I was. Or perhaps they were hiding the jakunness inside.

After lunch with Anwardi Jamil and Tom Ali, we headed back to our apartment for our midday prayers. Anwardi Jamil met us again and drove us to Finas (Perbadanan Kemajuan Filem Nasional Malaysia), the equivelent of Singapore Film Commision (SFC). Over at Finas, we explored the grounds and talked to a few people we met along the way.

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Isnor (Founder) and Suffian (Co-Founder) pointing at P. Ramlee and Jins Shamsudin’s identity cards

One of them is Isazaly Isa, an Apple Certified Trainer who conducts workshops at Finas. He is also an editor by profession. Surprise surprise, this young man is a Singaporean! Perhaps the most significant of his works is for Harman Hassan’s Road to Mecca (2008) as an Executive Producer. Read Isazaly’ Isa’s techie blog here.

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Isazaly Isa showing us around the Soundmix Studio

Bumping into Isazaly at Finas was a blessing. Why do you ask? Because we got a guided tour around the new Dolby Digital Soundmix Studio in Finas! Now for you filmmaking noobs newbies, this is where you the post-production for audio is done! There’s a foley studio – a studio where you get the sound effects done. I really cannnot say what I saw in words because…

I WAS TOO JAKUN AND I HAVE NO IDEA OF HOW THE SYSTEM WORKS!

So I’m a newbie like you too. Bak kata pepatah Tok Isnor kiter, biar pandai, jangan pandai-pandai  (don’t act clever). So I shall leave you guys, my beloved readers, to google ‘foley studio’ and let Wikipedia do the talking, aight?

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FINAS Foley Studio – Art trying to do something

We proceeded back to our apartment to rest and wash up since Anwardi Jamil decided to bring us out for a night of fun after dinner. Being the only girl of the entourage, I was scared for my life was hoping for entertainment that I could enjoy too. And I did enjoy myself!

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All of us with Hasnul and his friend.

We met up with Hasnul Rahmat, another Singaporean who shifted over to the other side of the Causeway to pursue their love for the arts. Since its an open secret, I’ll tell you anyways. I’ve had a crush on this fella since forever, so naturally, I was super excited to meet Hasnul. Thankfully, I’m not one of those who cry and faint upon seeing their celebrity crushes.

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Hasnul and myself

We talked about film, history and film history. It was certainly an eye opener, having a conversation with Hasnul. I may have gotten the rejection letter by NTU Communication Studies, curse you dean of admissions! but I realised I can still do films even as I’m doing History! Pfft! Who needs a degree to do films?

So the night ended early cause we were scheduled to meet Tan Sri Jins Shamsudin at 10am the next morning. I was scared, excited, nervous – feelings all jumbled up together. And thanks to Isnor, who said it was already 9.45am when I woke up at 8am and asked for the time.

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One of the many old film cameras at Tan Sri Jins Shamsudin’s office

We talked for an hour and a half before exploring his storerooms where he had props from old movies, some of them include the old film camera above, as well as props from the movie Ali Setan. It was fun listening to his stories, it felt like listening to a grandfather telling stories of the war.

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Group photo!

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Tan Sri Jins Shamsudin and myself

The same afternoon, we headed back to our apartment cause we scheduled with Dato’ Aziz Sattar  to meet us there. We thought it be good to have the meeting away from the public eyes, but Dato’ thought otherwise. He wanted to eat thosai from Lotus, the 24 hour coffee shop near our apartment, so we headed there instead. The old man told us jokes, some of which reminded me of the Bujang Lapok series he acted with P. Ramlee and S. Shamsudin. A wonderful character to talk to, Dato’ Aziz Sattar is.

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Dato’ Aziz Sattar and his wife

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Group photo again!

So the remnants of our trip was shopping and Carl’s Junior. I totally forgot to eat Subway. Nonetheless, it was a good meal. And of course, we dropped by Pustaka Peringatan P. Ramlee before departure off at Pasar Rakyat. Oh and this was P. Ramlee’s house, by the way.

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Last stop: Pustaka Peringatan P. Ramlee

That’s all from us at the Singapore Malay Film Society! Till we meet on a new adventure again, aye?

Sang Pemimpi: A Sequel to Laskar Pelangi

I used to hate Indonesian films. Yes, hate is a strong word, but I really did. That was until I watched Laskar Pelangi and fell in love.

I fell in love with Gunnar Nimpuno’s cinematography, Riri Riza’s direction and the cute little boys from Laskar Pelangi. Now, they’re shooting the sequel to Laskar Pelangi – Sang Pemimpi.

One of my students, Dhimas, recommended me to read the books instead of watching the films. My first love is books, so I shall hunt Andrea Hirata’s series tomorrow at Johor and read them before the release of Sang Mimpi. I know it might cause harm to my review of the film, but essentially, a filmmaker – even an amateur – must read to widen her knowledge.

Here are some of the shots I got off Sang Mimpi’s Facebook fan page. Oh and they just started shooting two days ago!

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I love this shot.

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Guru yang kelihatan amat garang. I cannot be that kind of teacher.

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A good way to punish students.

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Priceless.

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Scenes like these makes me wanna go back to school.

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He kinda looks like Dato’ Rahim Razali. Fierce.

The release date is 17 December 2009, well, in Indonesia that is. To the crew of Sang Mimpi, please tell Riri Riza that I am a big fan and I wanna catch the premeire of the film although I am far away in Singapore.

I might as well fly off to the premeire for a short getaway, eh? Hmmm….

Film Review: Laskar Pelangi

I’ve been wanting to watch this film since forever, but unfortunately, our local cinemas decided not to screen it over a longer period of time. So when I was shopping at Geylang (Joo Chiat) two weeks ago, I was quite surprised to see the VCD at Muzika Records! I grabbed one copy, took out a 10 dollar note and immediately paid without any second thoughts.

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Synopsis:

A small school in the countryside is on the verge of being shut down when enrollment falls due to the emergence of a rival school in the area. Without a complete class of ten students, the school would have to face its fate. Fortunately, the last student arrives at the eleventh hour, hence allowing the school to continue operations.

Nevertheless, the school faces all sorts of problems as time goes on. The students live in poverty, making use of whatever nature allows them to study. When the school faces a shortage of funds and students insist on participating in the local carnival, the class puts up a  performance in a way arts critics would applaud.

What I like about Laskar Pelangi is the subtlties and impactful dialogues that will forever be etched in your mind. When asked why she does not want to accept a marriage proposal from a rich businessman, Ibu Muslimah simply said, “Mimpiku bukan untuk menjadi isteri saudagar, mimpiku ialah untuk menjadi guru!” The English translation would simply mean “My dream is not to be a businessman’s wife, my dream is to be an educator!”

Apart from that, the class has a plethora of characters just like any class would have. I couldn’t quite catch the character’s names though. One boy has a superb ability of mental calculations and knows a lot about world events because he saves his daily pocket money to purchase newspapers to read. Another goes around the neighbourhood with a broken down radio that needs to be shaken up before used. He loves singing and dancing and anything related to the arts. And of course, there’s the misfit – a boy who’s stuck in the middle and just goes with the flow of his peers.

This is a truly inspiring film – because it has made think about my current status of being a substitute teacher. Perhaps, when I’ve gotten bored of filmmaking in the future, I’d probably come back to teaching. As for now, I’m happy where I am.

A Date with Ezzam and Ghazi

When I first met Ezzam and Ghazi at The Substation for First Take: March, I knew they spelled trouble. Trouble in a sense that the ‘date’ we would have will turn out kecoh (rowdy) but fun. Meet Ezzam Rahman and Ghazi Al-Qudcy, possibly Singapore’s most provocative filmmakers.

Ezzam Rahman (left) and Ghazi Al-Qudcy (right)

Ezzam Rahman (left) and Ghazi Al-Qudcy (right)

Before meeting them, I thought they’re names sounded familiar. At the back of my head, I knew I’ve watched one of their films, but I just didn’t know the title. Then I was a given a DVD with their works – lo and behold – Ghazi was the director for Hidden Treasures! The film was one of the judges’ favourite in the 8 Minutes Muslim Youth Filmmaking Competition, but sadly was not chosen for the finals. It was a little bit awkward for me to interview another fellow competitor, but as Ghazi would say, “In this industry, you learn from each other. No one’s your competition. We’re all working for the same goal.”

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Ezzam Rahman (above), 28 years old, does not have any formal training on filmmaking. Instead, he holds a Diploma in Fine Arts from LaSelle College of the Arts. Trained as a scupltor, he tends to make films that questions the audience, “I don’t like messages being sent across so directly. I like a little bit of roundabouts before my audience gets what I want to say.”

Ghazi Al-Qudcy, on the other, took a longer education path to get to where he is now. Currently, the 25-year-old is an undergraduate at NTU’s Arts and Media Design Faculty. A former student at Republic Polytechnic, Ghazi began his filmmaking journey there while going through his three-year diploma course in New Media. “When you’re in a school like RP, you should make use of their facilities and equipments to make your films. You can’t say you’ve got no money cause you have the logistics,” this is one tip I will use for life. Somehow when Ghazi said that, I regret not joining Film Society back in MJC. Imagine the equipments I can exploit… (evil laughter).

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Anyways, some of their works include Demam Jantan (part of the All for a Guy series), Hidden Treasures, Blk 46, just to name a few. The duo has been hailed by local filmmakers like Tan Pin Pin and Royston Tan as The Next Big Thing in the local film industry because of their numerous works in various film festivals here. Amongst the film festivals that Ezzam and Ghazi have participated in are Fly by Night and the Panasonic Digital Film Fiesta. “We joined these competitions just because we needed money, seriously. We were lusting after the cash prize just so we can pay off our phone bills and go karaoke,” said Ghazi lightheartedly.

Nevertheless, the mini film competitions they participated in were the ones that shot them to fame. Their first short film, Demam Jantan, was the judges’ favourite in the first Fly by Night despite not winning any awards. The short was chosen to represent Singapore at various international film festivals like Thailand’s 3rd First Frame Festival and Indonesia’s 4th Q! Film Festival. Although both are accidental filmmakers, the duo has made over 25 short films in five years. Now we’re all asking them, how about a feature film?!

Ezzam said, “Short films are like sketches for your actual painting. So just wait for us, ya?”

First Take: March Edition

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Synopsis:

A forgotten station: a social condition. Once grand, the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station now fades away in the eyes of Singaporean society. But it remains significant to a ‘community’ of diverse individuals, linked by a common fact that their life stories would each be incomplete without the existence of the Station, and also by their shared desire to preserve their own ways of life in this shared space between Singapore and Malaysia. Platform 1932 is a visual journey that unravels the issues of time and progression, pride and acceptance, modernization and legacy through the medley of individual stories. These interwoven memories tell how the station has managed to survive modernization, and more critically, continue to play an understated role in the relationship between two countries.

The SMFS team of journalists managed to attend our monthly dose of local films earlier in March, with First Takes at The Substation. Last month, we had the honour of having two short films directed by our fellow Malay filmmakers screened – Uncleboy by Jannah Monjiat and Platform 1932 by Nawwar Syahirah.

Elrica Tanu (left) and Nawwar Syahirah (right), the scriptwriter and the director respectively.

Elrica Tanu (left) and Nawwar Syahirah (right), the scriptwriter and the director respectively.

Watching Platform 1932, one can definitely say it brings back memories, be it good or bad ones. The nostalgic feel to the 24-minute documentary is one of the factors that makes it a must-watch for all. “Nostalgia was one of elements I wanted to include in Platform 1932 because I use to take the train from the Tanjong Pagar station to balik kampung (go back to the village).” As an audience, I could definitely sense the love Nawwar had for this station.

Tanjong Pagar Railway Station

Tanjong Pagar Railway Station

Being one of the many Singaporeans who are ignorant of the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, I was intrigued by the many sights and sounds of the old dame that were captured by the documentary. The only part of the train station that I used to frequent with my dad was the food stalls. Considering that the food at the old dame is one of the reasons patrons frequent the railway station, a few of the audience at The Substation asked Nawwar why the hawker stalls are not the main focus of her documenary. “I wanted to shift the focus of the station. The food there is already popular, why focus on the food when the essence of the station is its people and the train itself?”

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Another reason Platform 1932 stands out from other documentaries is the portrayal of the people who make the station come alive as well as the extensive research done. Among my favourite interviewees are the KTM Fan Club boys, Haziq and Saiful. These young men find it interesting to explore the tracks and the railway as the antique technology gives them a breath of fresh air away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Seriously though, I never knew the existence of the KTM Fan Club in Singapore! I thought it was merely a Facebook group that wants to relive nostalgia, but they truly have their own website.

KTM Fans: Haziq and Saiful

KTM Fans: Haziq and Saiful

Hearing stories from the railway operators opened my eyes further. The ‘old-schoolness’ of the way things are operated changed my perspective on the evolution of technology. While Singaporeans are unhappy with the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) and its lack of space, others are pretty much with the KTM train. Sure, the MRT is fast and practical for a small country like Singapore, but we need to understand why bigger countries like our neighbour uses the train. It may be slow, but the comfort is far from the packed bullet train where even seats are limited.

After watching Platform 1932, I question my ability to make documentaries. It may look easy, but the road gets tough along the way. When asked what was the hardest part of producing Platform 1932, Nawwar said, “Extensive research takes a good amount of time and the audio-visual script will always change along the way.” Looks like I have a long way to go, eh?

Catch the next First Take: April Edition here.

Platform 1932 was Nawwar’s final-year project for NTU’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication.

Photos credit to Nawwar Syahirah.

SMFS: Genggam Shooting

Over the long Chinese New Year weekend some time last month, I managed to catch a sneak peek into the behind-the-scenes of Genggam.

So you must be wondering – what the hell is Sham talking about, Genggam? Genggam bara biar sampai jadi arang?

No. Genggam is the first ever official short film under the Sinema Incubator Programme produced by Singapore Malay Film Society (SMFS) and Rezzaruction Pictures. Genggam (Fist) is directed by SMFS’ very own founder, Isnor Dzulkarnain Jaafar. I was cordially invited to the last few days of shooting, which started sometime near September last year, to witness some of the chaos and excitement going around the shooting location.


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Genggam Official Poster

Speaking of which, I got a shock of my life when I arrived at the (top secret) shooting location. A boxing ring was the last thing I had in mind, but thankfully, I was comfortable in my sneakers and technically it was more of a martial arts training facility. The temperature was scorching hot and I was stupidly wearing black and with layers. But hey, that’s the fun and rigour of making a film!

Ok. Back to Genggam.

On the first day of shooting for that weekend, I chanced upon Ashmi, Netty and Cik Kamin doing one of the scenes when I arrived, and I must say I am impressed by the director of photography. Although I couldn’t see quite well through the small monitor supposedly for the director, especially from where I was standing, I could see that Ghufran (the Ghufran I’m referring to here is Ghufran Jasni, not Darul Ghufran Mosque) seems to know what he was doing.

One of the scenes in Genggam.
One of the scenes in Genggam.

Later in the day, I managed to talk to Cik Kamin who plays one of the antagonists in Genggam. A real-life silat guru, Cik Kamin believes that silat should be revived by our own race and not others. Having international students from as far as France studying the martial art of silat with him, Cik Kamin is naturally disappointed with the local community for neglecting silat in favour of other forms martial arts like taekwando.

“The traditional form of silat is increasingly being abandoned by the young generation. Combat silat is now more popular because many fear the symbolism behind traditional silat. As the saying goes, people fear the unknown,” Cik Kamin commented.

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Cik Kamin and myself.

Cik Kamin went on explaining the symbolism of the keris (dagger) in silat, “It is not about killing your opponent with the keris, but to gently slice the skin of your opponent with the tip of the keris which has been dipped in poison.”

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A very glam photo of Cik Kamin.

Indeed, in line with Isnor’s objective of producing Genggam, silat needs to be revived or the art will also perish sooner or later, like the local filmmaking industry. Being the very first feature short film by SMFS, we are all expecting a lot from a small lot of people. Yet, the drive and motivation to relive the filmmaking industry to the yesteryears of Arwah Tan Sri P. Ramlee is still very strong. Says Suffian Zain, SMFS Co- Founder, “We are all in this together. It’s all or nothing.”

The next day, I caught up with Fatmah Abdul Halid, another one of the antagonists, yet again (I seem to love antagonists, eh?). An executive in a the IT industry by profession, Fatmah began practising silat in her teens. She later moved on to competitive silat where she represented Singapore in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games for several years, and finally achieving a Gold medal in the 2007 Womens’ Open.

Despite her background in silat, Fatmah claims it was difficult for her to repeat her success in front of the camera. Her first time in front of a camera meant that she had a lot to learn – especially with veterans like Rafaat Hamzah and Zamberi Abdul Patah around on set.

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A worn out but determined Fatmah.

“As a first time actress, there is no way for me not to be nervous. I had to visualise the scenes in my head over and over again. I cannot make any excuses for not being able to perform my best. My fighting and acting skills must be excellent for Genggam to be an impressive production,” says Fatmah.

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Suffian and the two commentators posing for a picture.

There is no way I can deny the togetherness and spirit to make Genggam a success, though. Despite running late from the planned schedule, and everyone looking tired from all the running about, the crew still managed to spare the other journalists and I some time to joke around. Shahida made sure we had our lunch and made us feel part of the production (although we were there only to kepo-kepo around).

Tuan Director and his fellow humble servants - I meant - crew.

Isnor giving the crew some words of wisdom.

I can’t release the synopsis just yet, but watch out for another entry nearing the release date of Genggam some time in May! I am really excited for the screening, in line with the first anniversary of SMFS.

To learn more about SMFS, click here, or join our Facebook group.

The Day I Met The Lady Behind Petronas Commercials

It’s every filmmaker’s dream to produce a film that touches hearts. Intentionally or not, films send across messages to the general audience. To me, a film has captivated hearts when it tells a story so personal yet universal values are still able to shine through. I was taught that the significance of good literature is the values it portrays.

Momsy and I managed to catch Yasmin Ahmad’s Muallaf last Saturday at The Picturehouse, and I’m proud to say that her fifth film is my first at the big screen. Sepet, Gubra and Mokhsin were either Eid specials on Suria or DVDs borrowed from others. Though it was difficult to part with the $20 I paid for the tickets since I just finished school and am currently job-hunting, Muallaf was worth more than the money I paid.

The story of two sisters who run to escape the wrath of their abusive father seems to be a cliche, but the twists and turns Yasmin Ahmad managed to handle kept the story alive. The faint scent of romance between Rohani and Brian seems all too familiar to me. A Muslim girl and a Chinese boy – I could feel my very own version of Sepet through Muallaf. Somehow, I wanted the person next to me to be him though it was really my mother’s shoulder that I was lying on.

My fascination with Muallaf, however, was the character Rohani. I cannot say more because I despise spoilers and I do know of friends who really want to watch Muallaf but have yet to do so. When the film I ended, I realised it was contemporary dakwah! Even my mother agreed to it. I promised myself to buy the DVD when it’s released so I can share it with my friends at Fityan Ghufran.

After the film, we went to the Q&A session with Yasmin Ahmad and the cast. Initially, I didn’t want to ask anything because I might sound too juvenile. I mean, this is Yasmin Ahmad we’re talking about! Right there, less than 10 meters in front of me was the director I am still in love with (metaphorically). Then after a few questions from the audience, none of them were asking the question I was dying to know. The question that ought to be asked to the director of every film made.

I slowly raised my hand and waited to be acknowledged, “What was your inspiration, Ms Yasmin?” I swear to God, my heart was pounding so loud that the entire lounge area could hear my heart thumping.

“I was inspired by the man I almost married,” she answered, then looking cautiously at her husband on her right before everyone roared with laughter. Yasmin Ahmad went on explaining how she felt that her relationship with the man ended on a good note, making sure I understood what she meant.

And I understood her perfectly.

Yasmin Ahmad renewed my faith in making films that comes from the heart, to touch other hearts. Thank you, Ms Yasmin.