THAI cinephiles are in for a treat until this Sunday. S-Express, a collaborative venture between Southeast Asian film initiatives, is currently screening films from select new filmmakers around the region at this year’s Thai Short Film and Video Festival. It’s only the first stop on the S-Express tour as Indonesia and Myanmar are next in line to screen them.
Among the entities which make up S-Express include Malaysia’s Next New Wave, Thailand’s Thai Film Archive, Indonesia’s Minikino, Singapore’s Substation, Myanmar’s Wathan Film Festival and several others across Southeast Asia. The programme aims to expose Southeast Asian movie-goers to films from their neighbours, on top of providing an opportunity for filmmakers to have their works travel.
There are four programmes in this year’s edition: one each for Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia and Malaysia. Curated by filmmaker and NNW founder Tan Chui Mui, the Malaysian programme in particular comprises eight short films by various young filmmakers.
In the mix we spot Safwan Salleh (Chalie) who will be presenting a four-minute film titled Night Without Light, while Chloe Yap Mun Ee (Three-week Film Experiment) brings back her intimate short film (?)’s Gaze and Nadira Ilana (Big Stories Bongkud-Namaus) puts forward her 2015 short Old Souls which stars theatre actor Ho Lee Ching. Also look out for Qistina Ruslan‘s animated short, Aurelie’s Garden. Other local filmmakers highlighted in the Malaysian programme include Chan Teik Quan, Aiman Aliff, Shobaan Pillay and Aw See Wee.
Here are all the Malaysian films featured as part of S-Express and their director’s statements.
S-Express: Malaysian Programme
Night Without Light by Safwan Salleh (4 minutes)
This film is an experimental video about economical and social issues affecting the lives of Malaysia’s working class. The film revolves around people who work to make Cara cakes at midnight, accompanied by friends. They like living their own life at night without facing up to a reality increasingly tainted by evil.
Spotlight by Chan Teik Quan (6 minutes)
Two friends try to open up to each other and talk about their insecurities.
(?)’s Gaze by Chloe Yap Mun Ee (5 minutes)
An attempt to create a fair and intimate examination on the implications of gender roles and identity in a relationship. In order to understand the meaning of masculinity and femininity, dominance and submission, objectification, trust, and love; we tried letting go of all reservations and allowing ourselves to truly be vulnerable with each other and hopefully in the process even forget the camera.
Rubik by Aiman Aliff (7 minutes)
A group of war child that wanted to play and enjoying life through their innocent eyes just like any other normal children even when they already know that they are living in a world where toys and innocence of children are prohibited. They have only one toy to play and that is a Rubik’s cube. They face an extreme lesson after their teacher discover that they have being hiding the Rubik’s cube behind his back.
Aurelie’s Garden by Qistina Ruslan (6 minutes)
Aurélie, a small town florist struggles to find meaning in her monotonous routine. While she spends her days bringing joy to others with her extravagant floral arrangements filled with color and whimsy, she fails to see the beauty in them. Only to find that one day her flowers take her to a whole new world, where she chances on a journey that leads to self discovery, new friends, and a realization that we all play a part in the world.
Diari Kuala Lumpur by Shobaan Pillay (15 minutes)
Deepak is a struggling filmmaker with dreams of making his own feature film someday. His love life is a mess and longtime girlfriend; Nithya calls their relationship off as he is not willing to give up his passion. Nithya is getting married soon, but they somehow decided to meet up in private for one last time before her marriage. An existential romance ensues.
Old Souls by Nadira Ilana (10 minutes)
Su Yee receives a dinner invitation from a secret admirer. She takes a chance but it is an impossible reunion. Raj claims to be a reincarnation of her high school sweetheart.
Highway by Aw See Wee (13 minutes)
A college boy picks his mother up for a wedding banquet in downtown Kuala Lumpur. In the car ride jammed with typical highway traffic and accidental AC breakdown, they are stuck in a confined space and conversation, stinging each other with clashing values and overbearing love.