3 Comedies and a slice of An Exceptional Life: Four international award-winning filmmakers take the creative approach to raising awareness of Malaysia’s radioactive issues. How does one get Malaysia talking about radioactive issues affecting a town they’ve never heard of? By making them laugh.
At least, that’s the plan of four leading Malaysian independent filmmakers.
Concerned about the potential dangers exposed by a rare earth processing plant near her hometown of Sungai Ular in Pahang, filmmaker Tan Chui Mui got together with three of her colleagues: Liew Seng Tat, Woo Ming Jin and Yeo Joon Han – to make a series of short films, aimed at raising awareness of this issue. They call their project “Survival Guide untuk Kampong Radioaktif.”
Avoiding a didactic or preachy approach, the filmmakers decided to use humour and gentle emotion as their storytelling tools instead. They feel that the rare earth issue has become clouded by strong emotions and divided Malaysians into two extreme groups: one fervently in favour of the plant and the other fiercely opposing it. More important, a third, and very large, group exists – Malaysians who know nothing about any of this.
The four filmmakers’ loyalty is to the safety and well-being of Malaysians and they believe rational discussion, understanding and empathy are keys to resolving the matter. The aim of the Kampong Radioaktif initiative is not to change the minds of either supporters or critics of the rare earth plant, but to encourage nationwide discussion of the issue so that eventually, as a people, we will arrive at the truth and decide if the benefits of having a rare earth plant in Malaysia are worth the risks to the substantial population living in its vicinity.
Gebeng, where the rare earth plant is located, is an industrial area unknown to most of us. However, it is surrounded by 700,000 Malaysians who have lived there all their lives and call the 30-kilometre radius around Gebeng home: Malaysians, just like us, but perhaps also Malaysians who may not be as vocal or well-informed. The least we can do is lend them our voice, so that their lives are given the same amount of protection as ours.
Liew Seng Tat, Woo Ming Jin and Yeo Joon Han’s comedies are set in an exaggerated worst-case scenario of a kampung contaminated by radioactivity, while Tan Chui Mui’s film is a touching documentary about a pregnant woman working at the old Bukit Merah rare earth processing plant, which subsequently and quietly closed down. Written and shot over a period of 3 months, the films reflect the individual personalities and styles of the filmmakers while collectively exploring the themes of acceptance, integrity, solidarity and abandonment – themes that the filmmakers feel underscore the rare earth plant issue.
Jom tengok wayang!
Wayang Pondok @ PusatRakyatLB
24th November 2011, 8.00 pm- 10.00 pm.
Pusat Rakyat Loyarburok, 3-4, 4th Floor, Jalan Bangsar Utama 3, Bangsar Utama, 59000 KL
Facebook event page: http://www.facebook.com/events/226431287423528/
Here’s the film schedule this Thursday:
#Love Dish (5 min) by Woo Ming Jin
“Don’t Worry, Be Hungry.”
#Welcome to Kampong Radioaktif (14 min) by LiewSeng Tat
“(capitalist+profited+corrupted policy makers)=(mutants+you+me)”
#Orang Minyak XX (10 min) by Yeo Joon Han
“Which of the following is not real? (a) Virgins (b) Heroes (c) Orang Minyak (d) All of the above.”
#Lai Kwan’s Love (9 min) by Tan Chui Mui
“How much are you willing to give away for your love one?”
See ya there!