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.


SMFS: Santau Media Conference

Stepping into Eng Wah Suntec, little was made known of the presence of 5 individuals who were responsible for the making of a box-office hit across the causeway. No red carpets, no paparazzi – just roaring laughter of students clad in school uniforms.

The main cast and crew of Santau (Whispers of the Devil) drove all the way from Kuala Lumpur to attend the premiere and media conference held at Eng Wah Suntec last Monday evening. Neither of them showed any signs of fatigue, or restlessness. In fact, they looked more than ready to answer queries by the young journalists of Obor from Berita Harian. Zul Handy Black, who plays the character of Man, even sang for the young crowd upon finding out his past musical career.

Ain interviewing Zul Handy Black

Meeting the cast – Esma Daniel (Halim), Putri Mardiana (Nina) and Zul (Man) – was a fruitful experience for me. Though I may not be an avid follower of Malaysian drama serials, I could recognize their faces having seen them on television. Esma, widely known as a television actor rather than a film actor, appeared to be a little bit nervous despite his attempts in making jokes to break the tension in the audience. Putri, who prefers to be called Nina (her nickname, not the character in Santau), was more relaxed and calm.

Esma Daniel looking all excited.

I must admit, I was a bit skeptical of Santau, after bad experiences with Jangan Pandang Belakang, Congkak, Jangan Tegur and Jangan Pandang Belakang Congkak – all by the Metrowealth International Group (MIG). I thought it was going to be “just another Malay horror flick”. That was when producer David Teo begs to differ. “Santau is not ‘just another horror flick’! By the end of the movie, you will cry. It will make a husband love his wife more and a boyfriend treat his girlfriend better. This film has soul!” – something of which you will be able to find out when you watch the movie for yourself.

Putri Mardiana looking sleek with her fedora and charming personality.

One thing I didn’t look forward to was listening to the stories the cast and crew went through during shooting. The tales of spirits lingering around the location, being hidden in the toilet and Esma being ‘possessed’ in front of the camera – they were all surreal to me. I refused to believe them – just so I could make it home alone without constantly looking behind my back. (Haha get it? Jangan pandang belakang!) Yet, knowing where my ancestral roots are, I have to admit their stories are as real as this blog entry. My grandfather was a medicine man, and he did have his fair share of friends from the other world. I wouldn’t be surprised if what happened to them on set were true.

Anyways, the part when Esma was possessed onscreen? Yeah they put it up. I wouldn’t spoil it for you but if one of the scenes look real enough, then that’s the one.

Mr MIG Davi Teo and myself

Moving on, I was more interested in the director, Azhari Zain, actually. Having been trained in film in an Australian university, he was very fluent in English, to my surprise. However, Zack, as he prefers to be known as, was even more shocked when David Teo approached him to direct Santau. After all, he was one of the newer directors in the Malaysian film scene. I must admit, though, he did carry a weight on his shoulders as the director. Horror flicks from Malaysian are infamous with the whole I-am-possessed-help-me themes. And I was a little bit skeptical before I attended the press conference. Upon hearing his background and his fluency in English, I was a little bit more hopeful.

The director himself.

Wrapping up, David Teo mentioned that reporters in Malaysia loved the film – even the worst critics gave their best comments. I am doubtful, even more so after saying, “In ten years time, Santau will be the best film Malaysia has ever produced!”

From left: Nina, Azhari Zain and David Teo

We shall see, aye?

SMFS Crew (from left): Art, Me, Kartini, Yassar, Saiful and Isnor

Films, Love, Musings, SMFS

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!


One of the guests signing the guest book.


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


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!


Pretty plaques for the awardees!


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


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.


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.


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


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.


Yazid aka Farid came down for Purnama 2 as well!


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


Awardees with Cikgu Yusnor Ef.


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.



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.


Pretty Purnama 2 programme booklets!


Posing/Cam-whoring while briefing.


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


Audience! Spot Sarah, Nani and Izzati!


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.


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.



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 or

Hope to see you there!

Films, Love, Musings, SMFS, Uncategorized

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.


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.


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…


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?


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!


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.


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.


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.


Group photo!


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.


Dato’ Aziz Sattar and his wife


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.


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?

Films, Love, SMFS

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!


I love this shot.


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


A good way to punish students.




Scenes like these makes me wanna go back to school.


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….

Films, Musings, SMFS

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.



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.