Gallery Yasmin at Tamarind Square

Yesterday, I read with interest the announcement that Yasmin Ahmad’s award-winning film, Sepet will be on YouTube from May 30 for just one-week’s limited viewing.

Yasmin at Tamarind Square, a gallery dedicated to
Yasmin Ahmad within the BookXcess bookstore
I know that the film, Sepet, is considered by many to be the most beloved of Malaysian films and quickly shared this info with my friends and contact groups.

Filmmaker, Yasmin (1958 – 2009), earned a reputation for her films that dealt with important themes and sensitive issues of faith, diversity, and a sense of belonging in Malaysia, a Muslim majority nation with a multi-cultural community.

She was also famous for her unforgettable Petronas festive commercials with scripts that conveyed poignant and powerful messages.

What then is sepet?

A collection of film posters with a
photo of Yasmin's prayer mat below
In this context, it is a Malay word which refers to Chinese slit eyes (mata sepet).

Directed by Yasmin Ahmad, Sepet is a Malaysian film set in Ipoh which tells a tale of teenage love that blooms between Chinese boy and a Malay girl and explores the simplicity and complexity of relationships.

Even though this film was released in 2004, the issues it addresses are still relevant today.

At the 27th Creteil International Women’s Film Festival in France, Sepet won the Le Grand Prix du Jury award and was honoured by the Best Asian Film award at the 18th Tokyo International Film Festival.

This limited time viewing of Sepet not only promises to be enjoyable, but it also invites viewers to post questions about the film, its production, the story, or any other details for discussion in the Comments section in YouTube.

These questions will then be answered by members of the cast and production team.

Yasmin's rolled-up prayer mat next
to her prayer robe or telekung
Among others who will answer questions are lead actress, Sharifah Amani, lead actor, Ng Choo Seong, Linus Chung, Tan Meiling, Zehan, David Lok and producer Abang Odeng, as well as Yasmin’s sister, Datin Orked Ahmad.

When I shared the info about this opportunity to watch Sepet (again!) with my friends, they replied with positive comments, three of which I wish to quote here.

Putri Zanina said: “Thank you Peggy. I remember seeing Sepet those days and felt how different it was from other local films.

It took a while to get used to Yasmin’s film-making style, but once we got absorbed into the story, we began to appreciate it.”

Magdeline said: “I saw the movie last year. Very good one.”

Swee Gim said: “Thanks Peggy. Yes, we watched it some time back and was deeply moved. Worth watching again.”

Art installation entitled, Sepet on-air
We stayed with Swee Gim and her husband in their cosy apartment in Cyberjaya in early January to attend a wedding in Kuala Lumpur.

This dear couple were also guests at the same wedding, so it was convenient for us to go to the solemnization and dinner banquet.

They were also excellent hosts who, among other things, showed me Putrajaya by night and introduced me to destinations in Cyberjaya including BookXcess, the nation’s biggest bookstore and the first 24-hour bookstore in Tamarind Square.

Yasmin's mobile-phones
While the first BookXcess in Johor Baru was yet to officially open its doors in Sunway Big Box, I was delighted to explore and experience this outlet in Tamarind Square.

Here, I discovered the gallery dedicated to Yasmin Ahmad that showcased interesting artefacts that gave me a glimpse of the personal life and work of our popular Malaysian filmmaker.

The sign simply read: Yasmin at Tamarind Square and next to it, a collage of Yasmin’s film posters confirmed that this was a gallery dedicated to the filmmaker.

Below this collection of film posters, a photograph of Yasmin’s prayer mat and prayer robe or telekung, reminded us that even with her busy work schedule, Yasmin did not neglect her daily prayer obligations.

In a separate display, her rolled-up prayer mat was arranged next to her telekung.

A number of Yasmin's reading spectacles
From an art installation set within a glass case, I saw pages of the original script of Sepet that were artfully suspended in the showcase.

In another display of old newspaper cuttings and magazine features, I read a plaque with this inscription, quoted here for your easy reference:

“The tributes came pouring in only after she passed away. When she was alive and did Rabun, Yasim kena tembak from certain parties.

She went on to make Sepet. Kena lagi.

She didn’t give up and made Gubra.

Kena tembak so badly most people thought that she’d give up.

Tapi Yasmin kept striving and made Mukhsin. Kena juga.

Yasmin was an egg-lover!
Then Yasmin made Muallaf which during her lifetime, could only be screened in Singapore and Indonesia, everywhere except Malaysia.

(Note: The religious department ambushed her during the filming of Muallaf in Ipoh and hauled her up for questioning).

She kena hentam kow kow in all sorts of media.

Yet Yasmin kept good form and continued to make Talentime – which is based on the Kampung Medan incident.

For insights into how badly she kena tembak, see pages 34, 49 & 192 of Yasmin How You Know?

When she died, Yasmin was finalizing the production of Wasurenegusa (Forget-Me-Not) an epic film she wrote about her beloved mother, Mak Inom, set in her ancestral village in Japan and Go Thaddeus Go, her film script about the strappingly handsome young Singaporean triathlete who suddenly collapsed and died running the good race.”

A display of her film awards
The book, Yasmin How You Know? is a compilation of anecdotes by Orked Ahmad and Jovian Lee Lit Hong on Yasmin’s life from her student days to various stages of her life, right up to her passing.

The exhibits in this gallery included Yasmin’s personal items like her mobile-phones, her reading spectacles and even her favourite food – eggs!

The label on this display of eggs in an egg-tray with a medicine prescription read: Yasmin, an egg-lover “Banyak choles-telur

Another display featured Yasmin’s collection of lotions. The caption read: “As she applied cream to the corns on her toes, Yasmin would grin at us and say, Sweet Corn.”

In the display of the awards won by her films, I read the inscription which said: “Yasmin’s films won numerous awards. When asked why she made movies, Yasmin would reply: For Mak and Abah. And to lepak with friends.”

Among them, I saw the Best Asian Film award from the 18th Tokyo International Film Festival for Sepet.

The inscription on this plaque is quoted [above] for your easy reference.
So don’t miss the opportunity to catch the award-winning film, Sepet on YouTube this week and appreciate afresh, the courage and creativity of Yasmin Ahmad. 

Happy Watching!

No comments:

Post a Comment