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