A scene from Singaporean-Thai independent film, Pop Aye, directed by Kirsten Tan. KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 24 — The second Malaysia International Film Festival (Miffest) begins tomorrow with a selection of over 20 independent films from around the region.
More impressive is the huge emphasis on female directors, making up almost half the films selected for the festival.
“This year has so many good films by female directors and we are immensely proud to have a female-focused festival,” said Miffest chairman Joanne Goh.
“If you’re a film lover, this is one of the rare moments to watch these acclaimed independent films.”
There will also be a Female Film-makers in Focus talk where directors Shin Su-won, Roya Sadat, Tan Chui Mui and Kamila Andini will discuss the challenges of being a film-maker in Asia — a rather timely notion following Hollywood’s #MeToo and #TimesUp movements to end sexual misconduct in the industry and include more diversity.
“There aren’t enough female directors in Asia for sure but also, we have to consider the fact that there are more limitations and restrictions for women in the industry compared to men and inequality needs to be addressed,” Goh chipped in.
Reflective of this year’s women-oriented festival, the lifetime achievement award at the second Malaysia Golden Global Awards which runs alongside Miffest will be awarded to veteran Hong Kong director Ann Hui.
The 71-year-old film director is known as one of the leading figures of Hong Kong’s New Wave film movement. She is known for her films The Secret and Boat People.
Here are 10 films to catch by female directors at the upcoming festival.
1. Love Education by Sylvia Chang
This year’s opening film by actress-turned-director Chang is a multi-generational Chinese-Taiwanese drama about the relationship of a mother, daughter and step-grandmother who are caught in a conflict over relocating the family patriarch’s grave.
2. Year Without Summer by Tan Chui Mui
Tan’s second feature film tells the story of rock singer Azman who returns to his village to become a fisherman. The Malaysian movie is a meditative tale about memory, the sea and friendship.
3.By the Time It Gets Dark by Anocha Suwichakornpong
This 2016 Thai drama by the Columbia University-educated Suwichakornpong weaves together the stories of a film director, her muse, a job-hopping waitress, an actor and actress whose lives are interconnected.
4. Pop Aye by Kirsten Tan
Elephant lovers, you wouldn’t want to miss this heart-warming Singaporean-Thai film about a disillusioned architect who meets his long-lost childhood companion elephant, Pop Aye, while in Bangkok. He then takes Pop Aye back to the village where they grew up. Tan’s film made it to Sundance’s official selection last year.
5. Angels Wear White by Vivian Qu
When two young girls are sexually assaulted in a seedy motel by a high-ranking district commissioner, issues of class, social injustice and victim blaming are brought to light in this modern noir.
6. Glass Garden by Shin Su-won
One of the most prominent South Korean female film-makers, Shin’s whimsical film opened at last year’s Busan International Film Festival. The film is centred around PhD student Jae-yeon who has the rare gift of communicating with Nature.
7. The White Girl by Jenny Suen
Set in Hong Kong’s last fishing village, Suen worked with renowned cinematographer Christopher Doyle (co-director and co-writer) on the story of a photosensitive girl who is branded as a ghost and her overbearing father who shields her from the truth about her mother.
8. The Seen and Unseen by Kamila Andini
Indonesian film-maker Kamila Andini is best known for her debut film The Mirror Never Lies. Set in Bali, The Seen and Unseen is about a 10-year-old girl whose twin brother falls ill and starts losing his senses one by one. To cope with her impending loss, she seeks solace in a fantasy world of dance.
9. A Letter to the President by Roya Sadat
When Soraya is imprisoned after killing her abusive husband by accident, she writes a strong letter to the president for help and in the process, provides viewers a glimpse into state-sanctioned misogyny. A Letter to the President was selected as the Afghan entry for the 90th Academy Awards’ Best Foreign Language and Sadat is Afghanistan’s first female film-maker to emerge in the post-Taliban era.
10. Radiance by Naomi Kawase
The winner of Cannes’ Prize of the Ecumenical Jury is a sunlit film about a blind photographer who falls in love with an audio description film writer for the visually impaired.
Miffest runs from tomorrow until March 2. The films will be screened at TGV Suria KLCC, tickets are priced at RM16. Visit ticketcharge.com.my or call 03-9222 8811 to purchase.
The Female Film-makers in Focus session takes place on March 2, 11am at TGV Suria KLCC Hall 11. Contact Penny at 012-525 2212 or Carmen at 012-629 4018 for details.