Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The truth about Malaysian independent movies

First off, Happy New Year! I didn't have the chance to wish you guys that as I was busy finishing up my movie analyses research work for my lecturer. The movies I had to analyze were all Malaysian movies and some of them are very, very good. The movies, I mean. Among the notable ones are:


  1. The Big Durian directed by Amir Muhammad
  2. Apa Khabar Orang Kampung (Village People Radio Show) directed by Amir Muhammad
  3. Flower in the Pocket directed by Liew Seng Tat
  4. Rain Dogs directed by Ho Yuhang
  5. Buli by Afdlin Shauki
Some of the above movies can be bought here. The first four movies in the above list are independent movies, meaning that they were not shown in the cinemas. There were some public screenings but the turnout wasn't big due to lack of publicity. Apa Khabar Orang Kampung (Village People Radio Show) was banned in the country due to "misleading information" in the film. Still, it was pretty informative and I'm glad that I had the chance to watch it.

Even the horrific Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam (about a female vampire) was laudable and had valuable messages to convey to its audience. I pretty much stay away from horror movies so I left this one for last. I didn't want to have sleepless nights! In order for me to complete my work, I need to get my beauty sleep so I'll feel refreshed. So when I watched the movie, I averted my eyes whenever the vampire appeared. Man, she's downright frightening! Blue skin, long black unruly hair and worst of all, her bloodshot eyes! I wouldn't watch it for free.  And I couldn't understand how a beautiful young woman (played by actress Maya Karin) could turn into something so frightful after she was murdered.

Buli was hilarious!  I don't always watch Malay movies unless they were comedies because I feel they are some of the best comedies I've ever seen and Buli is no exception.  The actors were brilliant, especially Ako Mustapha and the jokes genuinely funny.  Okay, some were overdone but that's only minor.  Buli is about Nordin who has really low self-esteem and is very conscious of his weight.  He doesn't have many friends as he's been bullied since he was young.  What's worse is that his old bully, Roy, is back to torture him during their working days.  Roy has made Nordin's life a living hell ever since they were children right up until their university days.  It sure is hard for Nordin to evade Roy.

Local movies, especially independent ones, don't get as much hype as foreign ones.  Why?  Well, some are not that good that they are terribly boring and might not make any sense.  But that's what the director's trying to do.  He or she had a reason for making their movies so complex.  These are usually the independent filmmakers who produce their own films.  They made movies which seriously discuss current issues that have to do with politics, the economy and society.  Themes that are way too serious and too troublesome for the typical movie-goer who only wants to be entertained as they have paid around RM10 for a movie ticket.  Go on Wednesdays where it's only RM6!  :D

So after watching my ten given movies over and over again and then analysing them, I had an entirely different opinion of the local film industry and its budding filmmakers.  Some of the movies may not contain high quality special effects.  The camera may be handheld.  The budget for the film may be low.  But they did what they had to do.  They only wanted to make movies to express their thoughts and ideas regarding life and other serious issues that should be discussed.  They wanted to inform and educate viewers.

Therefore, give these movies a chance.  For once, skip the mindless Transformers and cliched Hollywood movies (though some of these Hollywood ones appeal to me too!) and spend some time getting to know local movies, current issues and most importantly, yourself.


  1. I love the small independent movies, they have some of the best stories. Thanks for such an informative look at Malaysian cinema!

  2. Hazra: Thanks for reading my long-winded post. You're right - some of them do contain the best stories. Stories which we wouldn't normally see in mainstream movies. :)

  3. Hello,

    You can see Amir Muhammad in Paris (Centre Pompidou) for The Big Durian and Malaysian Gods :

    Good Blog ;) and Viva ! Malaysian indepedent movies !


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