Continuing the adventure, Fikri Jermadi concludes his write ups on selected films of KL 48 Hour Film Project 2015.
I have to admit whenever I hear the word Ortega, my thoughts immediately fly back to the late 1990s, when the mercurial playmaker Ariel Ortega was briefly living up to his billing as the latest ‘new Maradona’. The title ‘Osman Ortega Melawan Norma’, therefore, suggested that an argy-bargy of some sort is in the offing, without wouldn’t be completely out of character for Ariel himself (he was sent off in the 1998 World Cup for head butting the Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar). Here, however, Norma refers to the norm, and it is a story of a man fighting against the norms of society and culture in order to realise his dreams. By and large it is a functional film with a light hint of colours suggesting a bright outcome, but in my opinion Atta Indrawani Zaini is missing just that one plot point that would have helped with the reveal. Many regard this as the turning point, and this point in the film, which would have encapsulated Osman’s reasoning for taking a different path, was not noticeable to me. Had that been present, it would have made for a more complete narrative experience.
That’s something that ‘Mambang’ could be considered, even if its form of narrative was somewhat unconventional. Given that the KL 48 Hour Film Project consisted of filmmakers cracking their heads together for ideas to shoot and edit within two days, this story of filmmakers cracking their heads together for ideas to shoot and edit within the same time period is very meta, to say the least. Given its unconventionality, I didn’t know whether it was planned for to begin with (which would have been a stroke of genius) or a last-minute extrapolation of, “Guys, we have six hours left. We have to shoot something!” Either way, it made for an interesting story that was also surprisingly pleasant to watch. I didn’t know how it was going to turn out, but the fact that I was willing to find out meant that on many levels, this film is a success. I only wished I had come up with a similarly well-executed idea when I joined the competition years ago.
One idea that is different but not entirely alien was played out in Norman Effendi’s ‘Burglery’. The power of the film lies in the dialogue here. Again, the concept of two men waiting in a car invokes the spirit of a famous-filmmaker-who-shall-not-be-named-because-I-named-him-twice-already. Knowing Norman as I do on a personal basis, though, I would not be surprised if that is the original intention from the start. What we do get in the end is an enjoyable flick that relied as much on the chemistry of the actors as well as the filmmakers. The slight twist near the end, though, was not quite in keeping with the rest of the film, because it seemed a little too easy for comfort. I was all geared for a more intense moment of showdown, but the final scenes lacked a sizzle that was briefly noticeable in the film’s earlier parts.
We could flip that assessment for ‘A Different Angle’. The opening scenes of a bunch of young men and women wearing black mingling together in a crowd to the tunes of dance songs and rhythm was intriguing, but it threw me off a little. I didn’t quite know what to expect, and this state of affairs would continue until the middle part of the film. In that regard it’s plotting is similar to ‘Rintik Melankolik’, and again, the question of the reveal and its position in the story’s linearity should be considered as well. After I cottoned on, though, I find myself being more able to relate to the main characters’ dilemma, an important ingredient in any film. Being more invested allowed for the ending to affect me even more, and I remember thinking of the end as a particularly clever move on director Orista Primadewa’s part.
Considering the identity of the director of the winner of the competition itself, it’s clear I’m saving the official best for last. ‘Bingit’ starred Amerul Effendi and Azman Hassan, which is about as indie as indie gets in so many ways. It’s always a pleasure to see both actors biting down into meaty roles on screen. This being a short film competition, though, the limited time with which they (and director Megat Shahrizal, another mainstay of the short film scene) actually get to do the biting didn’t really bring out the full potential of the film. I can’t help but see it as part of a bigger film, one that has the biggest chance of being expanded into a longer form. It’s probably not such a big surprise, given the background of the people involved, but the fact remains that this is a great short film with strangely unfulfilled potential. Does that make sense? I know it’s not fair to castigate it for what it’s not, but I believe should the makers have some free time later on (if they ever do), then they may wish to cast a few more eyes in the direction of this film stored on their hard disk.
The fact remains, though, that making such films under such circumstances should not be underestimated. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: there are lots of films out there, and this list is merely a reflection of my personal opinion. I strongly encourage others to take the time and check out the potential hidden gems that may lay undiscovered in cyberspace should you not do it.
If anything, the KL 48 Hour Film Project confirms the grassroots filmmaking talent Malaysia has, and that is always great to see.
Featured image credit: Afriland Properties