Happy to be Wrong – 24:32

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In this Buzz of the Week, Fikri Jermadi admits he was wrong about a particular short film.

On a personal level, I believe proving ourselves wrong to be the best way to know new things. It’s pleasant to be right, of course, but that satisfaction is a sugarcoated affirmation that does little by way of expanding our knowledge. I acknowledge this because ’24:32′, directed by Amzar Razali, is a film that proved me wrong.

It first came to my attention some years ago in one of scriptwriting classes I taught at the Faculty of Film, Theatre and Animation, Universiti Teknologi MARA. Amzar was a student of mine at the time. The process in that subject allowed my students to submit multiple drafts before a final version is fleshed out by that semester’s end. As I write this, what I recall was his submission of a very verbal script. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, but overemphasis on the dialogue disregards the visual potential of a film in telling a story effectively.

466878571This is even more important to consider for short films. Ideally speaking, the spoken word should be balanced with unspoken images. With limited duration further restricting the amount of dialogue realistically allowed, the efficiency and universality of visual storytelling should not be underestimated.

The plotting of a story can also be incredibly challenging. Films are artificial in many aspects, and none more so than how the story is arranged and delivered. This creation of a believable reality, a verisimilitude that the audience can get behind, is the key to a more meaningful experience.

One of the easiest ways to do this is through repetition. A line of dialogue is delivered more than once, or a particular item can be seen again to enhance its sentimentality. Yet repetition is also a common method through which the film’s artificiality is exposed, with many filmmakers shoehorning illogical twists and dei ex machina to conveniently tie up loose ends.

I talk about all this and more in many of my classes. Whether it is picked up by the students is probably a different story.

Screen shot 2016-02-08 at 9.39.56 PMSome years later, I came across the final version of ’24:32′. What I saw was a fine piece of work. The story of a man lost in his search for love is clearly told. The technical quality was good, and I was impressed with scenes shot inside the mosque. The acting was also fairly natural, not the most common of things to be found in a student film. I chalk this up to Amzar’s quality as a director.

That’s not to say that it’s the complete film. There are still elements of convenient (ir)regular happenstance, but it did not detract too much from the overall experience. The sound (not often an area of emphasis for students) was also competent at creating a believable diegetic.

I don’t know how much of my feedback Amzar had taken on board, but here’s the litmus test: did I enjoy it? Ultimately, yes. I didn’t think a religiously-themed film would do that. Much of my experience with such efforts have been insufferable to say the least, but here the story has a fairly natural flow I didn’t spot in the script all those years ago.

Often times we speak of a film’s script based on the finished product (and vice versa), but while these pages map out the film’s production, that magical world inside the director’s head is not one easily transplanted unto the blank screen. From such acorns do oaks grow, and I am very happy to see this particular seed planted and cared for with great care, making for a fulfilling end product.

I am incredibly happy to have been proven wrong by Amzar Razali.

The short film can be seen here, and you can check out its making too.

Featured image credit: Wallpapers Craft

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