[message posted by ambient_noise on May 2, 2003]

A good friend once told me, "When the government calls our society a
'multiracial' one, that is in itself a racist statement." Racist, perhaps
not because the government delineates the citizenry according to ethnicity but because that truism was only ever intended to convey a tourist-brochure picture of a melting-pot society. Indeed, too often are minority views (in Malaysia as well as Singapore) subsumed under the hegemony of the ethnic majority. Swirling beneath politically correct surfaces are strong undercurrents of ethnic resentment, prejudices and misconceptions. For the sake of harmony, unity and social order, we should all just shut up, put on a happy face and treat those issues are non-existent.

Not anymore.

Amir Muhammad explodes the myth of a multiracial society and makes us
confront what we've known all along: 'harmony' is merely an excuse for not bothering to listen to what others are saying. The Big Durian uses the
incident of Pvt Adam's amok with an M16 in Chow Kit, 1987 as a starting
point to examine the issues of race, religion, the ISA, neo-feudalism and,
most worryingly, bad 80's pop music. Imbued with Amir's characteristic
humour, wit and candour, this film doesn't play with kid gloves but invites
you to bust it open with a parang and deal with what you find within.

But why should anyone here give a damn about it?

Because it is the first truly Malaysian movie.

Everyone in this movie is uniquely, identifiably Malaysian. 'Malaysia -
truly Asia'? Bollocks. There is not a hint of political correctness in here.
This is how Malaysians (at least KLites) talk, and what they talk about.
They speak in Cantonese, Hokkien, Malay, English or East Malaysian dialects. They speculate, they gossip, they recollect, they opine. One person who made the strongest impression on me was political scientist, Dr Farish Noor. Speaking in mellifluous Malay, his words were strident and provocative. My favourite quote of this Fest comes from him:

Budaya politik kita ni langsung tidak bertamadun. (Our political culture is
absolutely uncivilised).

If I have just one complaint, it is that those unfamiliar with Malaysian's
socio-political landscape may find the deluge of names, places and events
overwhelming. Amir, after all, made the film for his people, for Malaysians.
If we feel it doesn't pander to outsiders, then that's our problem.

The Big Durian is a film that sticks in the memory. It raises questions. It
persuades us that, in a multiethnic society, perhaps what's needed is not
tolerance but dialogue. Dialogue, without fear or fervour but with the
understanding that we are all in this together, and no-one should get left
behind or cast aside.

And Amir, if you're reading this, SCREW YOU for singing Modern Talking's
Brother Louie! Now I can't get it out of my head.

[message posted by lam_par on May 1, 2003]

Nice Film.
It'd be more interesting to study the coincidence in Ops Spectrum and Ops Lalang.

Was there a conspiracy between PAP and UMNO to use fear to shore up their political position?

as the director mentioned, one of the take homes of the docu is 'speculation'.

i love the light hearted 'Lat' style of caricature when he took the cameras across KL.

[message posted by silky on May 25, 2003]

Enjoyed catching the screening of THE BIG DURIAN & his other shorts at Goethe this afternoon and was really impressed with Amir Muhammad. Besides showcasing the political situation in Malaysia both past & present, he also fielded questions admirably with an honesty which caused the host to comment "perhaps you shouldn't talk about your films so much" or some such.
It was wonderful to see the Malaysians speaking in their Cantonese, Malay and other dialects in the film. In addition, it was precious how the sarcasm and criticism of the post-colonial political system came through in the film...would even pay to watch it again. Thanks, Amir. (Was nice meeting you finally)

Anybody know where one can get to see LIPS TO LIPS?

[message posted by Wind10 on May 25, 2003]

It is a meaningful afternoon with the Amir's short films and The Big Durian. The actors and actresses are very impresive.
It is really nice to meet up with Amir and wish to see more your works in the near future. Thank you to those who brought the awarness of this film and the information of screening so that I didn't miss such a good film at the end.

[message posted by waco on May 25, 2003]

Yesterday afternoon with the Amir Screenings - and a great time was had. He is an intelligent film maker. Questions were answered with poise. Thanks to SFS for this.

[x] close