Focus: Malaysia


Every year, Five Flavours brings a deeper insight into the cinematography of a selected country from South-East Asia. The sixth edition presents Focus: Malaysia.

Focus: Malaysia is one of the main sections of this year's Five Flavours. It is dedicated to the young generation of Malaysian filmmakers who are involved in the transformation of the Malaysian cinema and in their original, daring way present the reality of their country.

The core of the section is a selection of the films from one of the most promising directors of East Asia, Woo Ming Jin, announced by Variety magazine "a new, brilliant, striking voice of East Asian cinema". His films focus primarily on the relationship of nature and man. They portray the lives of ordinary Malaysians who live in the province, untouched by modernisation. Five Flavours includes in the programme his acclaimed "The Tiger Factory" (2010), presented in the prestigious The Directors' Fortnight section at Cannes Film Festival. The film, set in the community of migrants from Burma, brings a story of the teenage girl Ping Ping. The girl helps her aunt working on her farm and dreams about leaving for Japan. Ping Ping doesn't know that her aunt is also involved in the trafficking of children.


In turn, "The Elephant and the Sea" (2007) follows the lives of two individuals in the aftermath of a water borne disease that strikes their fishing village. With this film, Woo Ming Jin tells a story about human isolation in the modern world. A slow, ragged narrative style helps to move into a distant world where nothing brings hope for a change.

The title of another film, "The Woman on Fire Looks for Water" (2009), is a paraphrase of a Buddhist phrase interpreted as a sign of acceptance of the experienced fate. Once again, the director portrays people living in a distant province, coexisting and and struggling with nature. Woo Ming Jin subtly portrays love, difficult choices, the feeling of rejection which causes life-long grief and the process of forgiveness.

The latest feature from Woo Ming Jin, "Seru" (2011) shows a genre face of the director. The film is a slasher film produced in the convention of docu-horror. The director explains that with this title he wanted to make a film for my neighbours and friends who get bored watching his other films. A similar motivation was involved in the making of "The Days of Turquoise Sky" (2008) which is another proposal in the Focus: Malaysia programme.


Besides the retrospective of Woo Ming Jin's films, the Malaysian section includes the feature debut from Tan Chui Mui "Love Conquers All" (2006) which won her major awards at festivals in Pusan and Rotterdam. A young girl from the province moves to Kuala Lumpur. Despite having her boyfriend waiting at her at home, she gets involved in an affair. With time her new relationship turns into a deeper, fatal dependence. "Rain Dogs" (2006) from Ho Yuhang is another New Wave title in the programme. The film tells the story of 19-year-old Tung from a small town who travels to big and laud Kuala Lumpur after graduating from school. With its unusual atmosphere, it captivated the audiences at the major film festival worldwide.



Focus: Malaysia also presents two productions which recently has topped the Malaysian box-office: "Songlap" (2011) directed by Effendee Mazlan and Fariza Azlina and "Bunohan" (2011) by Dain Said. Both Effendee Mazlan and Dain Said are special guests attending Five Flavours.

"Songlap" invites to experience the feeling of the darkest sides of the Malaysian capital. It portrays the lives of two brothers involved in the illegal trafficking of children. After his best friend dies of a drug overdose, the younger brother Am tries to take on a quest for redemption by helping his pregnant sister.



A kick-boxer who escaped a deadly duel, a killer chasing after him and a corrupted businessman are the protagonists of "Bunohan". Three brothers who have become strangers to themselves meet in their home village to face their father's secrets and fight over the family lands.


Last but not least, the Malaysian programme includes the unique anthology film "15Malaysia" (2010) consisting of 15 short films made by 15 Malaysian independent filmmakers who comment on socio-political issues important in their country. Among the directors to present her vision on Malaysian society was Yasmin Ahmad. The director, who died suddenly in 2009, used to broach the issues like ethnic divisions and social inequality. Besides, Five Flavours presents also her last feature, "Talentime" (2009), which portrays talent show participants of different ethnicities.


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