Monday, March 03, 2008

Encounter With Yasmin

For some vague reasons, I thought Yasmin is a man. It probably started by my having a male ex-schoolmate name Jasmin, and the fact that Disney’s Aladdin has a princess character by the same name. So I derived that the name is applicable to both genders. But still, these premises do not warrant my expectation that Yasmin Ahmad is a woman.

Hence, I think that there is another possible factor that influenced my expectation. It is my previous perception that the film industry is either filled up only by male directors or only male directors make good movies. And obviously I am proven wrong.

After watching her movie Gubra and listening to her about her inspiration, experiences, and challenges in filmmaking, I conclude that Yasmin Ahmad is intelligent, self-aware, humorous, out-going, and articulate. In fact I think she is one of the few publicly known Malaysian woman that is smart and attractive. Perhaps I am attracted to her smartness, thus the ‘attractive’.

She won many international awards in the industry for her works. Many countries in the east and west recognize her talents and works. But ironically, it is her own country that does not celebrate her gifts. The authorities in Malaysia criticize her works as being insensitive and controversial.

During the dialogue session, she was accommodating and approachable. She is not hesitant to share her experience, techniques, and inspiration with us. For eg. there is a scene in Gubra where the main character Orked found out about her husband’s extramarital affair. Her husband tries to convince Orked from leaving by telling her that his affair partner is just a ‘piece of meat’, ‘stupid’, ‘nothing’ to him. Orked counter-proposed that she will stay only if her husband says these exact discriminatory remarks to the woman in front of her. Apparently that is Yasmin’s personal bitter experience. She is very frank, courageous, and open to admit that she is not ‘angelic’, and, to her, no one is. Hence, the inclusion of such bitterness and negative elements in her works make the movies ‘real’.

Other times she told us that she loves to include good/happy possibilities in her movies. I find that there are many positive inter-racial relationships in her works. In Gubra, one notices the harmonious relations between people from different ethnicity.

Yasmin believes that despite that no one is angelic, yet every human has something good and common. And she aspires to bring out this commonality to the screen, trying to prevent human from “throwing bombs on one another lesser”. And I think that’s the most unique distinction in her works, although I’m aware of the disagreeable social and religious implications embedded in her works.

When asked how long does she takes to write a script, she replied that she takes about 5 to 7 days. And she doesn’t spend much time to think too much about her script because the more she thinks, the more difficult the script will be. Such existential persona was made most obvious when she interestingly said that movies are made from the heart, not the brain.

The dialogue lasted for about an hour. Peter asked her for a photo shot after that. Yasmin was not hesitant at all. In fact she enjoys taking photos so much so that she wittily call herself a ‘photo whore’.

Since young, my ambition is to be a filmmaker but the odds of being a successful filmmaker in Malaysia is just insignificant. Yet meeting Yasmin re-opens, enriches, and enlarges my imagination. If ever I became a successful filmmaker one day, I’ll name her as my inspiration.

1 comment:

Wira said...

Hi Bro.
Are u still interested to go for the screening at Ms Yasmin's office? If you are, then please email your number to (we already know your full name).