I look forward to being back in Yamagata again, after a decade away. If I were a movie, I feel I should now be released as a 10-year anniversary commemorative edition, maybe in 3D.
The best thing about being on a film festival jury is that I get to watch films I would never otherwise see. The worst thing about being on a film festival jury is that sometimes the winner is simply the film “no one disliked” rather than what was (subjectively speaking of course) the one most worthy of recognition. I am still haunted by a particular jury decision, which didn’t award the main prize to a film that everyone else loved just because one of the jurors (not me!) couldn’t get over the fact that the lead actress, who played a rich woman, wore the same shirt in two very different scenes—the juror saw this as sloppy planning.
The only way to get a perfect film is to have the film made by perfect people. And the only way to get a perfect jury decision to get the jury composed of perfect people.
By the way, who was it who said that the only thing you need to know about prizes is that Mozart never won one?
Born in 1972, Amir Muhammad is a Malaysian writer, publisher, and occasional filmmaker. His films include The Big Durian (2003, YIDFF 2003 New Asian Currents Special Mention) and the two documentaries The Last Communist (2006) and Village People Radio Show (2007), which screened in the Berlin Film Festival but are banned in Malaysia. Since 2007 he has been more active as a book publisher running Matahari Books, with a focus on creative non-fiction, and Fixi with a focus on genre pulp fiction. He has written three books. He is currently preparing a hybrid film making use of YouTube and crowdsourcing called I’m Still Jewish.
MALAYSIA / 2009 / Tamil, English / Color / Blu-ray (SD) / 70 min
Director, Script, Producer: Amir Muhammad
Editing: MS Prem Nath
Production Company, Source: Da Huang Pictures
In 1998, popular Malaysian deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim was arrested, charged of sodomy, and sacked by prime minister Mahathir. The scandal sparked an unprecedented mass-based protest movement, Reformasi, over the next ten years. This documentary takes the form of visiting the locations where demonstrations and police clashes took place, and speaking to local people to see what has changed since. The filmmaker, a celebrated satirist, chooses ethnic Tamils as his interviewees (Tamils consist of 8% of the Malaysian population), using their minority social position to observe contemporary Malaysia’s muddy quagmire of politics—of course, with his trademark sense of humor.