HOW often do you see local films push boundaries of filmmaking? When Ion Furjanic (real name Michael Furjanic) set out to make a short called Lalu, he made it extremely clear to everyone involved that this was purely an experiment, and that’s exactly what he’s delivered.
Running at approximately 8 minutes, Lalu tells the story of three friends — Q, Mel and Nesh — who are on a road trip. Their car stalls halfway through the trip and they find themselves beside a lake, in unknown territory. Annoyed and thirsty, Q decides to quench his thirst at the lake, but what he sees across the lake flips the table. Thus begins a race between three friends to save their lives.
Through these three characters, Ion reflects upon Malaysian city culture. Heavily inspired by Kuala Lumpur folk and their urban lifestyle, much of Lalu comprises fast-paced action and unfiltered conversation.
The film presents an interesting range of performances from a diverse ensemble comprising established actor Pekin Ibrahim (Juvana, Mat Moto, Villa Nabila), star-in-the-making Iedil Putra (Terbaik Dari Langit, Migrasi) and first-timer Deanna Ibrahim.
Lalu succeeds most as a visual experience. Its thin plot won’t satisfy a thirst for resonant stories, but on Ion’s hands the premise is one for experimentation.
The surreal and hypnotising short showcases many fascinating editing techniques. Time bending is a prominent element, and as such many scenes feature slowed down, sped up or warped time. But Lalu also boasts sound design from Ion himself, who has built an internationally-recognised career on his ability as a composer and audio magician. Displaying what he can do with a medium like film, one notable instance provided a musical twist to the sound of a steel rod falling.
It’s an overwhelming trip for the senses as Lalu‘s three characters strike through the rough terrain surrounding a disused dam. However, Ion does play a lot on this new project — even a shot of water filling up a bottle is elongated and dramatized.
Ion though was adamant that this project is about having fun, trying new ideas, and pushing the audio visual experience of film. In truth, his approach to film may not be the cure for audiences in need of quality storytelling, but it is nevertheless a dedicated exercise in self-expression.
Through Lalu, Ion hopes to inspire more local filmmakers to stray away from the standard and explore ideas that are out of box. And most importantly, they need to express themselves. “This film is madness!” he exclaimed at the premiere last Wednesday. It definitely looks like it is.