In this ad by Yayasan Chow Kit, directed by Victor Manggunio, and produced by Adrian Lai, life in prison is told through an oddly cheerful and enthusiastic prisoner as he goes about his daily activities.
Despite his circumstances, the prisoner is seen to be enjoying all the aspects of life in incarceration. As he excitedly answers questions in class, smiles as his teeth falls from receiving a punch, create beautiful wood carving pieces and eats the insect found in the food served, he seems to be the happiest man in prison.
In the end, it is revealed that he actually was. As the ad nears its end, he is seen being escorted by the prison guards when he suddenly rebels and tries to escape from the guards. However, it is revealed that it was his release that he was rebelling against.
Despite the horrible conditions of a prison, it has been shown through the prisoner that it is still undeniably better than the life which he lived.
The ad illustrates the lack of basic human rights which stateless people live in through the happiness and gratitude of the prisoner.
With the education, healthcare and a job, all the necessities which he lacked access to prior, he has made a home out of his prison cell.
Beautifully executed, the ad creatively directed by James Yap with cinematography work by Jordan Chiam, sheds light on the unbearable and unimaginable life stateless people live without dehumanizing the vulnerable population.
Public Service Announcements (PSA) and awareness videos are often tear-jerkers, excessively using people as tools of emotional exploitation, tapping into other’s sense of guilt and sympathy to drive change.
Therefore, the creative team behind the ad decided to not do exactly that.
”I don’t think anyone wants to spend their precious time watching a film or ad only to be guilt-tripped into doing something anymore. It’s a predictable formula.” Said Jaz Lee, the head of the creative group.
To make its point for such a pressing issue, the ad aimed to capture the attention of the people. Yet, they considered it an important but forgotten responsibility to also remind the masses of the humanity of the people in need, beyond just sobering pictures bordering on schadenfreude. “We made the choice to not play it safe and do something that’s entirely different and never been seen before,”
The video was not an easy task, especially for the production house as they struggled to find a prison that would allow them to shoot in. However, they pulled through.
“We shot half the film at the Malaysia Prison Museum in Melaka and the other half, we built the entire set for it which I hope you can’t tell from watching the film” says Lee while laughing.
The creative team expressed their gratitude for Dr. Hartini Zainudin from Yayasan Chow Kit for believing in the team, by championing such a brave and lateral idea in order to bring forward change.
A common misconception many have is that the stateless population are foreigners, however that cannot be further from the truth. Also known as invisible people, legally, stateless people, by definition, are those who are not recognized as citizens of any country.
Majority of stateless people are born in Malaysia or have at least one Malaysian parent. The only group of stateless people whom are not Malaysian are Rohingyan refugees who are not recognized as citizens of Myanmar.
Stateless people stem from an ongoing problem, rooted in poverty which lasts throughout generations.
“Marriage of parents are not recognized so children are considered born out of wedlock. Generations of people are born without having their birth registered. Abandoned children, it goes on and on.” Explains Jaz.
However, there is hope for change with the new government as they have sought help from the people of Yayasan Chow Kit.
“The new government has asked for us to present our recommendations for policy change on childhood statelessness and list our definition of the different categories of statelessness and why should they be protected and why their rights should be upheld,” says Dr. Hartini, Yayasan Chow Kit.
At the start of the ad, he is greeted with kindness through a smile, and at the end he is seen to have bonded with his fellow inmates, it tells us of the kindness we ought to offer them. It is odd and unfortunate that we live in a world where we have to be reminded of a stranger’s humanity, but this ad reminds us how undeniably human they are.
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Creative Agency: Leo Burnett Malaysia
Head of AV & Digital Content: Jennifer Hendroff
Creative Director: James Yap
Creative Group Head: Jaz Lee
Production House: Passion Pictures Digital Sdn Bhd
Film Director: Victor Manggunio
Executive Producer: Adrian Lai
Director of Photography: Jordan Chiam
Producer: Bernie Koh
Line Producers: Mun Yee & Felicia Choi
Audio House: The Rec Room Sdn Bhd
Music Composer: Tatsuro Miller
Sound Engineer: Thoo Jhen Ken
Producer: Kim Siew
Featured Image is from Leo Burnett/Passion Pictures