WATCH: James Lee's 2007 TV film BERNAFAS DALAM LUMPUR


A few days ago, Malaysian independent film pioneer James Lee (and also producer of my last short film FLOATING SUN :D ) uploaded his entire 2007 TV movie BERNAFAS DALAM LUMPUR (English title: BREATHING IN MUD) online.

I remember catching this on TV the day it was aired seven years ago. The film starred numerous actors whom I have collaborated with a few months earlier in the TV films I produced, KURUS (English title: DAYS OF THE TURQUOISE SKY): Nam Ron, Mislina Mustaffa, Mohammad Hariry, Azman Hassan etc.

It tells the story of a man, Meor (Hariry) long thought to be dead, returning to his wife (Mislina), who has now remarried his best friend Din (Nam Ron).

Yes, like KURUS, this was a TV movie commissioned by NTV7. If this is online, I wonder whether it's possible for me to upload KURUS in its entirety as well?

Here's the film:




Actually, BERNAFAS DALAM LUMPUR was expanded from a short film of the same title that James made two years earlier. It was actually one of the first short films from him that I watched (during one of our first meetings, he was kind enough to lend me two DVDs, one of his film THE BEAUTIFUL WASHING MACHINE, the other was a short film compilation that included BERNAFAS DALAM LUMPUR, GOODBYE TO LOVE and SOMETIMES LOVE IS BEAUTIFUL, which you can all watch if you click the links, by the way)

So here's the short film!


And here's Richard Kuipers' review of BERNAFAS DALAM LUMPUR on Variety when the TV film was screened at the Bangkok Film Festival 2008. (coincidentally, KURUS was screened there as well that year and won a Special Jury award, the Bangkok Film Festival is sorely missed!)

A husband long thought dead returns to his remarried wife in “Breathing in Mud,” a well-scripted urban meller by busy Malaysian helmer James Lee. Gently composed and laced with incisive commentary on love, loyalty and redemption, this project commissioned by local broadcaster NTV7 is much more conventional than Lee’s long line of minimalist indie pics and deserves to be more widely seen at fests. Regional tube buyers should also take a look.

Believed to have fallen afoul of his criminal associates years ago, Meor (Mohammad Hariry) suddenly re-enters the life of wife Nina (Mislina Mustaffa), now married to Meor’s best friend, Din (Nam Ron). Each man has sired a child by Nina, and Din is thinking of leaving her for his sexy secretary. The thoughtful script establishes an initial air of fear before burrowing deep into Meor’s hopes and frailties to establish he wants only to put things right. Tricky topic in Malaysia of unintentional female bigamy is carefully handled, and the pic streams in effective thriller elements in the final reel when Meor’s old buddies come calling. Perfs are solid and the basic tech package gets the job done.