Four films submitted by aspiring film-makers from Curtin University of Technology, Sarawak Malaysia (Curtin Sarawak) for Detik-detik MH, Malaysia Airlines’ Short Film Competition, have been shortlisted among the top 13 finalists.
The film production crews comprised Belinda Yip Chien Jiun, Julia Chong Yee Ling and Wong Sie June and Jason Wong for Sekampung Sehati, Rachel Kedung Bulan, Law Siaw Wen and Lu Shan for Berani Hati, Yang Zi, Noora Ibrahim Zahir and Njiiri Eric Maina for Memories, and Ting Mei Mei, Wong Tien Tien and Esther Choo Tuong Wee for Share.
Film & Television lecturer Rama Venkatasawmy, who supervised and produced all four films, hailed it as the greatest achievement by Curtin Sarawak’s BA Mass Communication students in a national film competition to date. Also involved in the production process was Film & Television technical officer Juliana Yong, who acted as producer for all four films.
“Our students had until this point won an award in Radio Television Malaysia (RTM)’s Anugerah Filem Pendek in 2007, and two finalist awards in RTM’s Program Karyawan Muda national film competition last year. However, to have four films shortlisted for the finals in a single competition is beyond our wildest dreams,” declared Rama.
“We have had a very consistent track record so far in that every student film we have entered in national film competitions have ended up in the finals. All these achievements reaffirm the very high standard of filmmaking expertise in Curtin Sarawak’s Department of Media, Culture and Communication. Naturally, we are elated with our latest achievement and really looking forward to the final results on May 24,” he added.
Rama said the achievements give added impetus to the Department of Media, Culture and Communication to keep striving for even wider recognition for its students and Curtin Sarawak. Not ones to rest on their laurels, other Film & Television students are already working on yet another film competition, according to Rama.
All four shortlisted films from Curtin Sarawak are available online for viewing and voting on the Detik-detik MH website. The People’s Choice Award will go to the film with the highest number of votes from the public. Voters are entitled one vote per day throughout the 2-week voting period from 1 to 14 May 2010. To cast your vote for your favourite Curtin Sarawak films, log on to the website.
The grand prize winners will receive Malaysia Airlines economy class return tickets to any destination of their choice in accordance with Malaysia Airlines’ flight network. Furthermore, their winning film will be showcased on Malaysia Airlines’ in-flight entertainment system.
The first and second runner-ups will win economy class ASEAN Passes, and economy class return tickets to any ASEAN destination, on Malaysia Airlines’ flight network respectively.
The top three entries will be judged by a panel of judges comprising MAS Senior General Manager for Communications Indira Nair, CEO of TMI Malaysia George Aveling, filmmakers Tan Chui Mui and Liew Seng Tat, and film producer Bahir Yeusuff.
Inspired by the rising popularity of short films, Detik-detik MH aims to provide a platform for young creative talents at tertiary institutions in the country to express their personal interpretations of Malaysian Hospitality on film. The competition is open to both local and foreign students currently enrolled at any Malaysian-based university or college.
According to the Detik-detik MH blog, after a month of receiving a total of 68 entries from all over Malaysia, the panel of judges sat down to pick the best of the best amongst the entries, which they described as ‘a slew of interesting, funny, heart-warming – and sometimes strange – entries’. Selecting the finalists proved a most difficult decision it seemed, with each judge supporting his or her favourite film, resulting in a list of 13 finalists instead of 10.
The blog went on to state that this was testament to the talent available in Malaysia, and that Malaysia Airlines was honoured to be able to provide opportunities to nurture and grow students’ potential.
In congratulating the students and staff involved, Curtin Sarawak Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Kerr said, “Having four films enter the finals is indeed great news for Curtin Sarawak. Congratulations to all the participating students, producers Rama Venkatasawmy and Juliana Yong, head of the Department of Mass Communication Mawi Taip and the Dean of the School of Business Shamsul Kamariah Abdullah. Everyone put in a great effort. Let us keep our fingers crossed for a really fantastic outcome when the final results are announced.”
Working in five groups of three, the students were required to develop scripts and produce short films according to the competition’s theme of ‘Malaysian Hospitality’. They were encouraged to be as creative as possible as their entries were to be judged on the originality/freshness of ideas and story style; the quality of cinematography techniques; and the clarity of translation, presentation of storyline and emotional nuances in relation to the theme.
Second-year BA Mass Communication student and Berani Hati director Rachel Kedung Bulan commented that making Berani Hati gave her the chance to express her personal thoughts on Malaysian hospitality, as well as what it means to be Malaysian and why she is proud to be a Malaysian.
Berani Hati depicts the daily life of a Malaysians from a foreign visitor’s point of view. Justin, a Canadian boy, is invited by his Malaysian friend Oliver to his house during a vacation. In Oliver’s home, Justin experiences the Malaysian culture in a strange way such as the ‘annoying’ newspaper guy, squatting toilets, shouting in the house and special food like chicken feet and fish head curry to eating with his hands. Despite all the strange events that happen during his stay at Oliver’s, Justin discovers true Malaysian Hospitality through the warmth and love from Oliver’s family.
Director of Sekampung Sehati, final year BA Mass Communication student Belinda Yip, said that as it was the first time she and her teammates Jason Wong and Julia Chong were participating in a national film competition, and being very passionate about filmmaking, they were naturally excited throughout the whole process. Sekampung Sehati is a heart-warming story about a Malay couple invited by their son to fly to Kuala Lumpur for the very first time and the couple does not know what to bring for their trip.
Share meanwhile is fundamentally about sharing and friendship. The two schoolchildren in the film, each from a very different background (Fang is from a rich family while Yang is from a poor family), do not need explanations nor reasons to share whatever they might possess with each other – not only food but also love and friendship; this is essentially what Malaysian Hospitality is all about.
Director Ting Mei Mei commented that it was a memorable experience for all on the Share production crew, especially since they were working with children for the first time.
“It was an honour for me to participate in the competition, and while shooting, I had the opportunity to experience Malaysian hospitality even more,” said Yang Zi, final year BA Mass Communication student from China and director of Memories.
In Memories, the various momentos from Malaysia that Koi keeps in her room generates certain memories of her time in the country and the amazing hospitality she received while living here as a student.
For more information on Curtin Sarawak’s Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication course, visit www.curtin.edu.my, or call its Student Recruitment Department at +60 85 443 939.