Thursday, April 28, 2005

'Love Letter'

Originally uploaded by yasmin the storyteller.
Don't forget. Be here by 8pm, please.

Dinner will be served, inshaallah. Those who said they'd come but don't turn up will be refused a place the next time they apply.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Storytellers Club 'Love Fest'. Any takers?

Originally uploaded by yasmin the storyteller.
Slight change of plans.

Instead of working up (or down) my personal list of favourite films, I, otherwise known as "da Boss", would like to propose a Love Fest.

In other words, we work up (or down, as the case may very well be) my list of all-time favourite LOVE stories instead.

The next screening should be, not this Friday, but the next, inshaallah.

Please go through the list below and cast your choice now. The first 25 to do so will automatically earn their place at the next screening.

Type on folks!

Satyajit Ray's "Charulata"
Neil Jordan's "Mona Lisa"
Raj Kapoor's "Bobby"
Billy Wilder's "The Apartment"
Charlie Chaplin's "City Lights"
Pedro Almodovar's "Talk To Her"
Satyajit Ray's "Apu Sansar"
Norman Jewison's "Moonstruck"
Naoto Takenaka's "Quiet Days of Firemen"
Tony Scott/Tarantino's "True Romance"
Mira Nair's "Monsoon Wedding"
Shohei Imamura's "Unagi"
Peter Chan Ho-San's "Tien Mi Mi"
James L.Brooks's "As Good As It Gets"
Franco Zeffirelli's "Romeo and Juliet"
Shunji Iwai's "Love Letter"
James Cameron's "Titanic"
Zhang Yimou's "The Road Home"
Woody Allen's "Annie Hall"
Jerry Zucker's "Ghost"
Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"
Ang Lee's "Sense and Sensibility"
Merchant-Ivory's "A Room With A View"
Anthony Minghella's "The English Patient"
Paul Thomas Anderson's "Punch Drunk Love"
Wes Anderson's "Rushmore"
Penek Ratanaruang's "Monrak Transistor"

The first film to be shown at The Storytellers Club Love Fest will be the one most chosen in this poll.

(Il Presidente and Cik Bendahari please help me keep count, ok?)

Monday, April 18, 2005

Love never dies.

Someone suggested today that I shouldn't make 'Gubra'.

That it would mortalise a perfectly healthy modern day myth.

That it would explain too much a phenomenon that has become a haunting, thought-provoking mystery.

And finally, that I should move on and make other stories about other things and other people.

Pablo Picasso, my favourite painter and sculptor of all time, once said, "To finish a painting would be to rob it of its soul."

Now I'm confused. Sepet's run at the cinemas is long over, but the film itself continues to breathe. People are still discussing the ending. I've never seen anything like this happen to any local film before.

Everywhere I go, I am accosted by total strangers, from all races, all age groups; some curious, some moved, some even a little angry.

The questions are the same:

"What actually happened at the end?" "Did he, or didn't he?" "Who answered the phone?"

Which begs the question: If I made 'Gubra', would I be robbing 'Sepet' of its soul?

Or does Love never die?

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Sessi Appresiasi Sarsi.

Tu dia! Si Adam bukan main kangkang lagi. This, kawan-kawan, is what one might call, "A picture you can smell."

Today, 24 hours later, much has happened. Everyone is haunted by different scenes from the quietly powerful 'Daremo Shiranai'.

Early in the morning, Seng Tat sms'd me from a train, saying that he couldn't help looking out for a dirty looking boy with a pink suitcase.

Ted keeps remembering little Yuki's red shoes that went pip-squeak when she walked; Aliya remembers the older kids slipping Yuki's cold foot into one of them before closing that suitcase.

Me, I often fantasise about playing a game with them: "Let's clean this house in the next hour and then treat ourselves to lashings of ice-cream." And with one click of my fingers, the kids and I race each other down to that convenient store Akira frequented.

And I've already promised Seng Tat that I'd share some of my Apollo Chocos (Yuki's favourite), the next time we meet.

Now, when was the last time a film stayed with you like that?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

'Daremo Shiranai' - 8pm, tonight

Jangan lupa dan jangan lambat, tuan-tuan dan puan-puan, cewek-cewek dan cowok-cowok, chaps and chapesses, ladies and gentlemen.

See you all tonight, inshaallah, at the screening of 'Nobody Knows' (Daremo Shiranai), Yasmin Ahmad's pick of the best film of 2004 by far, from anywhere around the world.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

'B E R K E M B A N'

Originally uploaded by yasmin the storyteller.

That cheeky bugger Zulfly emailed this to me today. The mole and its placing was accurately observed, and the face does have a look of me, but... WHEREFORTH ART MY TITS?!

But seriously though, I think it's awfully sweet of him to have done this. You know you're old when people start making caricatures of you. I'm just relieved that mine isn't too grotesque.

The portrait Zulfly drew shows me directing, of course, but the question is, which film? Because frankly, I'm still not decided which of the three I'll shoot first - 'Gubra', 'Kapur', or 'Bunian'.

And by the way, alhamdulillah I've received offers of financing for all three.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Let the records show.

It was the night of the 8th of April, 2005. And it was, in fact, the 3rd gathering of The Storytellers Club.

We screened Satyajit Ray's 'Pather Panchali' at our first gathering, and last week, at our 2nd, it was Miike Takeshi's 'The Bird People In China'.

This time around, we had nasi lemak, followed by a screening of 'Rabun', and then a discussion.

It was good. The questions were stimulating. Allah has blessed us with a cheerful and thoughtful bunch of new friends. May this last for a long, long time.

Oh, and by the way, someone please bring a digital camera to this Friday's screening, so I can publish that gathering in here, too. Inshaallah, we'll be playing Koreeda Hirokazu's heartbreakingly beautiful 'Daremo Shiranai' ('Nobody Knows').

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Rabid about 'Rabun'.

This Friday's screening of my first film 'Rabun' has solicited a much bigger audience than I anticipated.

Apart from those who applied here, there will also be Dr Wan Zawawi (musician extraordinaire and anthropologist), Gareth Richards (film appreciation lecturer at University Malaya), Seng Tat (young genius and gold award winner of last year's Malaysian Video Awards short film competition), our very own smashPop (cute darling who did the spoof of my 'Sepet' poster), and Jaja whose computer is down.

In short, we're bursting at the seams.

But you know what? With Il Presidente's kind permission, I'm going to allow it. And people can just lepak around the floor. Let's find out exactly how many bodies our theatrette can take, once and for all.

For those who are new to The Storyteller, 'Rabun' was my first feature-length film. It was the gold award winner for the Best ASEAN Feature Film at the 8th Malaysian Video Awards in 2003. It has also been selected for four international film festivals, including being chosen for competition at the Torino International Film Festival 2003 in Italy.

It's worthwhile noting that out of every ten people who have seen both 'Sepet' and 'Rabun', anywhere in the world, two prefer 'Rabun' and defend their choice quite fiercely.

Which one do I, the writer and director of both, prefer? Why not make your guess and say why, in less than 20 words. The winning entry shall be presented, inshaallah, with an original copy of 'Sepet' dvd, signed by Jason, Orked, and I.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

An excerpt from a write-up on 'Sepet' at the 48th San Francisco International Film Festival.

chicken king
Originally uploaded by yasmin the storyteller.
"In her second film, Yasmin Ahmad tells a story of interracial teenage love, between Chinese Jason, a peddler of pirated videos, and Orked, a Malay schoolgirl who likes Hong Kong movies.

"Sepet" is Malay for "single eyelid", but pejoratively, it means "slit eyes." From this provocative title, the film penetrates stereotypes of race and narrative, to explore the complexities of a multiracial society that has institutionalized the superiority of the Malay race.

The film's opening moves from Sam Hui's yearning Cantopop song to Jason reading Indian poet Tagore's work in Chinese translation to his Peranakan (mixed Malay-Chinese descendant) mother, concisely framing the multi-Asian strands of Malaysian society and the film -- tradition and modernity, the Malay-Chinese-Indian pyramid, the purity and impurity of culture -- all set within a classic maternal metaphor.

In this context, Ahmad's gentle and engaging tale of doomed love assumes both political and personal dimensions.

In its own subtle way, it stands as a signal work, both of the new Malaysian independent cinema, and as a heartfelt plea for tolerance." - Roger Garcia

Saturday, April 02, 2005

The night FINAS was robbed.

Yesterday morning, I went to FINAS because I was invited to be part of the panel for an appreciation session of Yuhang's "Sanctuary". Yuhang himself came, of course, as did U-Wei Haji Shaari, and a host of journalists, cameramen, tv crew, producers, film critics, and students.

The morning went by interestingly enough, and "Sanctuary" was for me even better and more powerful the second time around.

The walls of FINAS were, as always, lined with rows upon rows of glass-framed posters of films they had had some involvement in. But what shocked me was that the "Sepet" poster that was up was not the lovingly-crafted movie poster you see above, but the smaller, poorly-printed, vcd-promotion version that is up at video stores all around town.

When I asked them to explain this outrageously unfair misrepresentation of my humble little film, they apologised profusely and explained that, for the first time in FINAS's history, someone had crept into their building one night, unscrewed the glass frame of our poster, and stolen the poster itself!

Now, I know we must never condone any act of crime, but... this one made me happy somehow.