Hans Issac’s “Cuci”

By Benjamin McKay The directorial debut by leading actor Hans Isaac is more impressive than I had anticipated. For all of its syrupy Malaysia Boleh sentiments, “Cuci” is in fact a fairly well constructed entertainment. One of the pleasures of the film is that it takes the tired cliché of the ubiquitous KL skyline establishing […]

KSFM’s “Malaysian Shorts”

By Benjamin McKay Monday evening’s screening of recent Malaysian short films largely confirmed the talent and richness to be found in the work of some of our leading independent filmmakers. Organised by Kelab Seni Filem Malaysia and hosted by the irrepressibly witty Amir Muhammad, these screenings are now firmly a part of the local film […]

Tembak: Mark Tan’s “Jarum Halus”

By Benjamin McKay For a debut feature film, Mark Tan’s “Jarum Halus” proves to be both bold and audacious. With mainstream ambitions and craftily manipulated indie edginess, this present day Malaysian version of Shakespeare’s “Othello” is bound to have the pundits’ tongues wagging. In so many ways, this film should not work but even with […]

Success At First Bloom

By Benjamin McKay It takes great skill to make a film about the emotional and material deprivation of young children without resorting to either sentimentality or sermonizing. How, instead, do you make an empathetic, realistic and non-preachy film about the plight of children in need and still manage to fully engage with your audience? Can, […]

Strange Bedfellows

By Benjamin McKay Two very varied feature films opened recently, the first two parts of a planned trilogy on love by acclaimed indie filmmaker James Lee. James has had a productive career, to date, and critical analysis of his work has often focused on stylistic comparisons with Taiwanese New Wave stalwarts like Tsai Ming-Liang (who, […]

Tembak: Wed 9 – Wed 16, May 2007

By Kakiseni Opera Pinocchio Sat 12, May 2007 Once upon a time there was an old carpenter, Geppetto, who wanted a son. A fairy heard the man’s wish, and – as Geppetto lay asleep – granted the gift of life to a wooden puppet. This was how Pinocchio was born. However, the fairy neglected one […]

Telltale Lovebites

By Benjamin McKay It has been an important year for independent Malaysian cinema. Triumph on the international festival circuit, success with releases on the screens of major cinemas, both here and overseas – it is cause for celebration that we end the year with another landmark feature. You’ve heard this by now: made with the […]


By Benjamin McKay It would take a very hard-hearted person to not admire the gumption of Khairil M Bahar, who produced, wrote, directed and edited his feature film debut, Ciplak, with the paltry sum of RM10,000 – and managed to get it released in Golden Screen Cinemas, one of the nation’s leading chains. He is […]

Shining Through The Rain

By Benjamin McKay Some filmmakers use film as a tool to tell narratives and build worlds. Other filmmakers, a rare few, inhabit film as if it were already a tangible world – a world in need only of some simple shaping and orchestration to produce fine semblances of life. Ho Yuhang’s Sanctuary (2004), a simple […]

Race and Place

By Benjamin McKay One should applaud the release of another Malaysian independent feature on local screens – on that count, therefore, you can add the sound of my two hands, clapping. In his debut feature film, Arivind Abraham’s S’kali (Malaysia, 2006; in English and Malay; Perantauan Pictures) explores the uneasy terrain inhabited by a group […]

Hiking Out of Ipoh

By Benjamin McKay Coming of age stories, especially those that take us on a physical journey, can be problematic films to craft well – the narratives are often loaded with detail, and when resolutions are sought there is a tendency to mire them under the weight of sentimentality. Goodbye Boys (Malaysia, 2006; English with Malay […]

Silencing the Lambs

By Benjamin McKay The media here of late have been reporting and commenting upon a number of issues to do with perceived moral shortcomings and the manner in which those perceived shortcomings are addressed by the moral guardians of the nation. Indeed the media has in some cases decided to act as a moral guardian […]

Imaginary Homeland

By Benjamin McKay “Sometimes I wonder if you guys realise how hard it is for the rest of us to live here. It’s like being in love with someone who doesn’t love you back.” – Alan in Gubra In Yasmin Ahmad’s Malaysia, it appears possible for a Chinese Malaysian man to give a Malay woman […]

The Mild Mild West

By Benjamin McKay In a lovely article for the British press, Annie Proulx, the author of the short story that the Oscar-nominated film Brokeback Mountain is based upon, had this to say in an uncharacteristically bitter, but amusingly succinct rant: “We should have known conservative heffalump academy voters would have rather different ideas of what […]

Double Afdlin Burger

By Ruhayat X Don’t say I never do anything for you, ducklings. Sebagai khidmat sosial dari aku, here’s a quick and simple test to see if these two movies – Afdlin Shauki’s double whammy Buli Balik and Baik Punya Cilok – are must-see events untuk dipenselkan dalam kalendar kau: Katak. Well? Adakah sepatah perkataan tu […]

Not In The Mood

By Jerome Kugan I have nothing against the Chinese. After all, I myself am half chink. But every now and then, I think of how the Chinese community in Malaysia (as do other races in their own way) default to their 5,000-year-old continuous history’s worth of identity so self-assuredly when asked what it means to […]

Majukanlah Rock Untuk Negara

By Nur Hanim Khairuddin Meski menyorot sekelumit dari sejarah sosio-hiburan silam yang berkecamuk dan tercerai-cerai, Rock membawa kita kembali menjengah keberadaan ‘pop culture’ dan ‘pesta muda-mudi’ di dekad 80an. Penuh nostalgia, padat dengan lagak dan imej realistik disulami beberapa babak kelakar, Mamat Khalid memaparkan secebis sahsiah dan siasah popular (asalnya sub-kultural jua) pemuda Melayu generasi […]

Konfrontasi: With Ourselves

By Chuah Siew Eng “If you would understand anything, observe its beginning and its development.” The significance of history, succinctly explained by Aristotle, comes too late for me and generations of schoolchildren for whom history is a jumble of meaningless dates and past happenings with little impact on our everyday lives. Little did we know […]

Trust Me

By Ray Langenbach (Ir)reversible Déjà vu I used to spend weekend mornings in Singapore with a friend, Lee Weng Choy, watching formulaic Hollywood flicks. Seeing the same actors appear in film after film left us with an eerie sense of déjà vu. One day following two hours of the usual fare, we devised a game. […]

Who’s Shitting in My Backyard?

By Erick Chiew Bravery in Broga I stay in Puchong. Some time back, I was asked to sign a petition protesting the building of an incinerator nearby. I asked the person holding the petition form, “How do you know the incinerator is bad?” She said it’s because her boss said so. I asked her again, […]

Seluar Pendek Cina

By Ruhayat X Di taman permainan kau boleh kutip lebih banyak honesty daripada di mimbar dan pulpit. Selalunya orang paling hampir dengan diri sebenar mereka waktu tengah bermain or enjoying themselves, dan keeping up appearances langsung hilang dari kamus. It was in that spirit that I enjoyed tayangan filem-filem pendek dalam A Company of Shorts […]

Too Many Apples, Not Enough Oranges

By Benjamin McKay The head of jury for the 50th Asia Pacific Film Festival, Datuk Johan Jaaffar of Malaysia, in his remarks at the Closing Awards Night, likened the mammoth task of sifting through the 27 films submitted for competition as having “too many apples to compare with oranges.” Indeed the films submitted at this […]

Unsur-unsur Seram dan Semiotik

By Isham Rais Menonton filem ini seperti membaca buku. Kita perlu mengetahui nahu dan hukum-hukum filem untuk menikmati bentuk seni ini dengan lebih mendalam. Dalam masa yang sama tanpa mengetahui hukum dan nahu­nahu filem kita juga boleh menjadi penonton dan membaca apa yang sanggup kita lihat dan dapat difahami. Malah rasa saya inilah cara terbanyak […]

Whose Film Is It Anyway?

By Benjamin McKay The Fifth Asian Film Symposium and Inaugural Forum on Asian Cinema took place at Singapore’s Substation from 9-18 Sep 2005 and a number of Malaysian filmmakers crossed the Causeway to join their Southeast Asian colleagues in a rigorous and engaging attempt to answer some key questions about the state of filmmaking in […]

Girls Who Dig Balls

By Chuah Siew Eng Gol & Gincu is like an extended 3R episode. The girl-power slant is to be expected, as the screenplay came from Rafidah Abdullah, co-host and occasional writer for the hip TV-zine with a focus on empowering young women. Featuring kick-ass young girls who also kick balls (ahem!), Gol & Gincu is […]

Too Many Awards, Not Enough Movies

By Kakiseni Paparazzi Talk about efficiency. For the entire first half of the 18th Malaysian Film Festival 2005 (FFM18) awards ceremony on Sun 17, July 2005, winners were ushered off the stage as soon as their awards were firmly in hand. We were thus thankfully spared of boring acceptance speeches. But truth be told, we […]

The Taming of Ning

By Benjamin McKay Subtitles not required A friend here in KL recently suggested to me that my view of Malaysia might be a little askew. For over two years now I have immersed myself in a study of your old Malay movies from the 1950s and 1960s as part of my doctoral dissertation. She suggested […]

Tun Mamat Naik Lif

By Isham Rais Tidak berapa lama dahulu saya telah diundang oleh geng Kakiseni untuk merewang ke Kampung Pinang di Taman Medan, Petaling Jaya Utara. Saya telah agak biasa dengan kawasan ini. Pada pilihanraya yang lepas beberapa anak-anak muda dari kawasan ini telah datang untuk menyertai kumpulan teater jalanan Universiti Bangsar Utama (UBU). Anak-anak muda dari […]

Kerajaan Merah

By Al-Mustaqeem Sir Ridley Scott! Dan kita membayangkan sebuah filem epik yang cemerlang seninya, dengan gerak kamera yang memukau; semburat darah, ceraian anggota-anggota tubuh manusia, kekasaran manusia, yang, anehnya, menghasilkan sinematografi yang indah; koreografi gerak yang cukup kemas untuk memaku penonton; perincian dalam prop dan kostum; dan, hampir pasti, kisah yang menarik. Kingdom of Heaven, […]

Brave New Whirl

By Pete Teo James Lee is working on my music video. So I might not be the best person to review The Beautiful Washing Machine. However, the Kakiseni editor insisted that I am – supposedly because I’d appointed James after seeing the film and thus my analysis would be informed by the right kind of […]

The Girl Who Cries “Huh?”

By Chuah Siew Eng At the first instalment of Shorts for 2005 (it is presented at Help Institute three times a year by Kelab Seni Filem), a friend said she needed to go to film school before she could understand any of the short films. For example, Kit Ong’s 1,3,5, is as obscure as its […]

The Lost Hero

By Zedeck Siew On July 12, 2004, a conspicuous but largely unnoticed full-page advertisement ran in the New Straits Times. It was titled: ‘A Gift to the Nation’, and touted a certain Mansor bin Puteh, ‘Malaysia’s Storyteller’. The black and white ad reproduced, right under the title, Mansor’s Columbia University student card. When I meet […]

Arts Worldwide | 2

By The Special Bunch This monthly column brings you news of arts happenings around the world. We called it ‘Cool Stuff last month. This month we are trying out ‘Arts Worldwide’.  Let us know what you think. Long and Uncut by Amir Muhammad The longest feature film ever made might just be Evolution of a […]

Eyes Wide Open

By Alfian Sa’at Sepet: to possess single eyelids, or used pejoratively, slit-eyed. The condition of being slit-eyed sometimes goes beyond its physical designations to enforce racial stereotypes. The sepet person is associated with certain personality traits: either a shifty inscrutability (you can’t read the person’s eyes), or handicapped by narrow-­mindedness (surely someone with eyes like […]

Polis & Negro

By Amir Muhammad Tahun 2005, tibalah masanya untuk episod ketiga daripada rentetan layar lebar Gerak Khas, yang dimulakan pada tahun 2001 dan disusuli pada 2002. Walaupun jarak antara episod kedua dan ketiga tidaklah sejauh jarak antara The Godfather Part II dan The Godfather Part III (16 tahun) namun banyak juga yang telah berlaku di persada […]

There’s A Kind of Hush

By Khoo Gaik Cheng Ho Yuhang’s Sanctuary, which had garnered a Special Mention at last year’s Pusan International Film Festival, distinguishes itself from mainstream cinema in many ways: minimal dialogue, slow pace and almost humdrum nature, seeming lack of suspense and seeming absence of narrative drive. ‘Seeming’ is the keyword here as it is all […]

Elastic Reality

By Sharaad Kuttan Nicely shot, simply told, Chemman Chaalai, is a must see for all those interested in the many directions that Malaysian ‘indie’ films are taking. Billed as a “Malaysian Indian Story” this movie is simple but badly paced, beautiful but lacking emotional or psychological depth. The rather po-faced protagonist’s struggle for education and […]

Filem Tempang ke Rotterdam

By Amir Muhammad Filem Independen lstilah ‘Filem independen’ diwujudkan di Amerika pada tahun 1980an untuk merujuk kepada filem yang tidak diusahakan atau ditaja oleh mana-mana studio besar di negara itu. Kemudian nama-nama seperti Spike Lee, Steven Soderbergh, Quentin Tarantino dan Michael Moore mula menjadi sebutan. Tapi sebelum istilah itu wujudpun, terdapat beberapa pembikin filem seperti […]

Malaysian Graffiti

By Kam Raslan Questionnaires were handed out at the door. Then the lights went down, a broken air-con rattled like an old movie projector and oxygen levels gradually dipped. For the next two hours we saw slices of Malaysiana, journeys through India and Australia, views on arranged marriages, Arab ancestry in Singapore and the search […]

Alice in Videoland

By Zedeck Siew On the 17th of September I was at Budaba for the Malaysian Video Awards. Having finally found a spot to stand where I wasn’t either moving aside or blocking someone’s view of podium and award recipient, I sat on a rail and finished a glass of melting ice with traces of gin. […]

You Talkin’ To Me?

By Pang Khee Teik Toh Hai Leong, a Singaporean film critic, is highly annoying, and not just because he is Singaporean. If you inadvertently acknowledge him, he will talk incessantly at you, not with you. Once, thinking he wouldn’t notice, I turned my back. He immediately ranted, “You young ones, don’t be so big shot. […]

Tumpang Glamour

By Fiona Lee It was with mixed feelings of pride and nostalgia that I attended three Malaysian film screenings at the 27th Asian-American International Film Festival in New York City. From July 16 to 24, New Yorkers had the opportunity to view a sampling of works by Malaysian independent filmmakers, which were showcased alongside other […]

Crouching Warrior, Hidden Princess

By Woo Ming Jin After months of hype and anticipation that reached the levels of a Paris Hilton video, I am finally going to watch Puteri Gunung Ledang! As an independent filmmaker, I had been enveloped with some sense of pride after hearing it had been selected to screen at the Venice International film festival, […]

Dari Kamar Cinta ke Medan Perang

By Khalid Jaafar Nah, akhirnya kita menyaksikan Troy dengan Brad Pitt sebagai Achilles. Puas hati? Saya mendengar ada yang mengatakan boleh tahan, tetapi ada juga yang terus terang kecewa. Kepuasan sebenarnya tidak mungkin dicapai dalam filem. Saya katakan mustahil. Ujiannya mudah. Mahukah anda melihat Troy sebanyak dua kali? Mungkin. Tetapi kali kedua, ketiga dan keempat? […]

Responsible Filmmaking 101

By Toni Kasim For over a decade, Pusat KOMAS (Komuniti Masyarakat), a non-governmental organisation producing social documentaries, has been training and empowering marginalised groups to do their own documenting. Sometimes they go so far as to lend video cameras to orang aslis, urban poors, or squatters who get evicted and forced into uninhabitable longhouses, to […]

Devil In a Kebaya

By Zan Azlee U-Wei has always made daring films that force spoon-fed Malaysian audience to think. Which is always a risk; although his films are critically acclaimed (his 1995 Kaki Bakar remains the only Malaysian film to have been screened at the Cannes Film Festival), none have ever been box-office successes. This ‘failure’ to make […]

Pendekar Bujang Gemuk

By Nizam Zakaria Seorang sutradara yang saya kenali, Yasmin Ahmad (alah, Yasmin yang buat iklan Petronas dan filem Rabun yang kena potong bagai nak rak kat TV3 tu ler!) telah menghantar SMS kepada saya sejurus selepas beliau selesai menonton tayangan perdana filem Buli. Min memberitahu kepada saya dengan bersungguh-sungguh bahawa inilah filem Bahasa Malaysia paling […]

Making Bahasa Indonesia Sexy

By Amir Muhammad We’ve all heard the joke about the Polish starlet who went to Hollywood and tried to get ahead by sleeping with a screenwriter. It’s no longer PC to identify a whole nationality with dumbness, but the underlying point about the essential powerlessness of the man or woman who writes for the screen […]

Mercilessly Mundane

By Antares In recent years, young filmmakers like Osman Ali, James Lee, Amir Muhammad, and a host of graduates from the Multimedia University and other institutions, have realized a long-held dream of many a Malaysian youth – to make their own movies on their own terms for a whole new audience, local as well as […]