Director: Nik Amir Mustapha
Life in the city isn’t easy. Depression, isolation have all emerged as a result of rapid urbanisation. The film revolves around a depressed Akil (Redza Minhat) who contemplates suicide. Deciding to end it all, he employs the services of a professional ‘hit’ company to do the deed. But, after putting out a contract on himself, he meets Zara (Cristina Suzanne Stockstill) and starts to have second thoughts. Kil, a play on the word ‘kill’ and ‘Akil’ began as a passion project. Nik Amir Mustapha embarked on it with a group of friends. Even after the film was completed, it took about a year before it was picked up by Grand Brilliance. KIL received seven nominations at Anugerah Skrin, winning four including best picture. At the 26th Malaysian Film Festival winning five out of 11 nominations. In true Indie form, the film adopts an artistic approach, playing on subtleties and creative direction. The film was pretty impactful as it addressed the kind of loneliness that many individuals feel in today’s fast-paced, urban world.
Nasi Lemak 2.0 (2011)
The controversial Namewee goes against political correctness in this film, amplifying the various stereotypes that we are accustomed to. It, however, goes against his typical ‘in your face’ reputation and instead turns into a ‘that’s we love about Malaysia’ outing. The film stars Namewee as a young chef who in search of creating the perfect Nasi Lemak, goes on a road trip with Xiao K (Karen Kong) around the country. In the process he comes to learn much about Malaysian society. The comedy is filled with innuendo that could be offensive but is portrayed here in the most hilarious manner. The film presents an all-star cast that includes Dato’ David Arumugam, Afdlin Shauki and Adibah Noor. There are also numerous cameos from various Malaysian.
Puteri Gunung Ledang (2004)
Director: Saw Teong Hin
The epic film is based upon the local myth that tells of the mystical princess who lives atop the mysterious Mount Ledang. The movie may differ slightly from the legend we learnt as children but its remains as enigmatic. Here, the princess is Gusti Putra Raden Adjeng Retro Dumilah (Tiara Jacquelina) from Majapahit who seeks refuge on the mountain after spurning a marriage proposal from the powerful Sultan Mahmud (Adlin Amin Ramli) of prosperous Malacca. Unimpressed by his pomp and grandeur, the princess finds herself drawn instead to the warrior Hang Tuah (M. Nasir). But always loyal to the Sultan, the warrior steps aside for his ruler. To test the Sultan, the princess sets some quite arduous conditions, in a bid to discover the lengths he would go to satisfy his ego in marrying her. These include the hearts of mosquitoes and a cup of blood from the young prince, the Sultan’s only son. In doing so she challenges the Sultan to question his intentions for wanting to marry her. The film shot entirely in Malaysia speaks of a different era, one of legends and mysticism. The film which was made on a whopping US$4 mil budget, a record at the time.
Director: Yasmin Ahmad
The tragic tale received much critical acclaim and propelled Yasmin Ahmad’s status as a flimmaker, addressing the undercurrent racial conflict in our seemingly harmonious nation. Through the love story between Jason (Ng Choo Seong), who sells pirated VCDs and the dutiful schoolgirl Orked (Sharifah) we address the stereotypes and ethnic divide that exists in our country. Despite being somewhat melodramatic, the film, shot entirely in Ipoh, appealed to cinema goers locally as well as internationally. It was named Best Asian Film at the 18th Tokyo International Film Festival and best film at 27th Créteil International Women’s Film Festival in France. The 18th Malaysian Film Festival held a year later proved to be quite an intense one, showcasing the two directions in which Malaysian cinema was moving – the big budget Puteri Gunung Ledang vs the indie Sepet. In the end Sepet prevailed including best director, best film, best original screenplay, most promising actor and most promising actress.
Spinning Gasing (2000)
Director: Teck Tan
Back when indie films were rare in Malaysia, a film, released only on VCD, due to censorship, burst onto the scene, striking a chord with young urban Malaysians who were part of a new generation, a product of the rapid development the nation had undergone at the time. The film revolves around Harry Lee (Craig Fong), an aspiring musician who returns to Malaysia after spending many years abroad, to a typical Asian father who labels him a failure. Determined to prove himself, Harry forms a band that includes his childhood friends Yati (Ellie Surianty) and Ariff (Edwin Sumun). But when they run into financial troubles, the band flees the city to avoid loan sharks. They wind up in the conservative East Coast where they are forced to confront issues to do with race and religion and ultimately ask the question, “who am I?” As the flamboyant Ariff exclaims while changing into more ‘appropriate’ attire, “this is the East Coast, people here are more conservative what…” The global Harry who has always disassociated himself from all things Malaysian starts to find his place here. Yati, the modern, Malay girl, also starts to embark on some soul-searching. The film resonated with a young audience who like the film’s protagonists were on a quest for their identity.