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Friday, July 17, 2015

Conversation with the family of Yasmin Ahmad

Today is Hari Raya Aidilfitri (Eid al-Fitr), and most of our brethren in the country are celebrating.

Aside from being a public holiday, Hari Raya is about seeking forgiveness from family and friends.

These beautiful values of familial love, friendship, forgiveness and compassion are reflected very much from the films of the late filmmaker Yasmin Ahmad.

Last week, for a documentary that Ming Jin's directing (I'm executive producing), we had the pleasure of interviewing Yasmin's parents, Pak Atan and Mak Inom, and sister, Orked. (yup, she's the namesake of the protagonist in the "Orked trilogy")

From our conversations, we could see that Yasmin had inherited her parents' intellectual capacity and sense of justice. In fact, Yasmin would usually show rough cuts of her films to her parents, highly valuing their feedback.

This was an anecdote from Mak Inom: One night, when Yasmin was showing her a rough cut of an ad, she thought certain lines of the dialogue were unnecessary, so she told Yasmin about it. Yasmin immediately made a phone call to the editor to cut off the lines.

There were also stories of Yasmin supporting her siblings and nephews' education, helping lots of up-and-coming filmmakers kickstart their careers. The importance of her role (and also her films' roles) in the Malaysian New Wave during the early 2000s cannot be understated. In truth, I have written quite a few times about Yasmin Ahmad in this blog, for example my fondness for Mukhsin, someone's amusing (but nihilistic) idea for an alternative SEPET ending, and my own thoughts when she passed away.

Since her passing, she had remained a towering figure in Malaysian cinema, her influence is most palpable when it comes to TV commercials. Many of the festive ads had been heartwarming explorations of racial unity, familial love, nostalgia and the beautiful simplicity of everyday Malaysian life.

Here are some of the commercials that Yasmin Ahmad did. Her ads, along with MUKHSIN, are my favourite from her oeuvre.

This morning, we discussed Yasmin Ahmad and her cinema with her sister Orked and parents, Pak Atan and Mak Inom. It was...
Posted by Edmund Yeo on Friday, July 10, 2015