Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A glimpse #1

VOLUPTAS ~ "What you don't need, you don't keep."

An upcoming, independent feature film directed by Sanif Olek.
Story by Sanif Olek & Hady A Hamid. A reeljuice production.

Release date: TBC.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Screening updates.

AMEEN will screen as part of Sinema Showoff! Curator’s Picks (Season 2010).
Date: Tuesday, Dec 21,
Screening time: 7.15pm sharp.
Venue: Sinema Old School, 11B Mount Sophia, Singapore 228466

Admission is Free. Tickets are available online or at the door on a first come first serve basis.

Screening will be followed by Q&A. Media links here and here.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Making films.

I have been asked this question many times from many Singaporean filmmakers who are just starting out, don't have the 'connections' or rich parents. Or others who wonder why I'm slogging on making films when I can just remain doing fun television programmes. I wish I have the perfect answer, below are extracted from the latest one I posted on Imran Ajmain's Facebook post. I've attempted to respond the best I could.

The Question.
How do young Malay people interested in film and video find out about doing something?
What kind of projects that you see happening elsewhere could we emulate for the SG scene for indie movie-makers?
Because of censorship & funding, and just about the lack of scarcity for content, Indonesian film-makers burst into a straight-to-DVD frenzy, and going strong til today. Can this happen in SG?

My response.
You NEED to COMMUNICATE your STORY to your audience. Tell them WHAT YOUR STORY IS ALL ABOUT. If you YOURSELF are able to tell your story in ONE LINE effectively, you have managed to engage your audience 80% to your story.

For example, you must be able to tell "My story is about Jack who wants to go up the hill to fetch Jill a pail of water", not "My story is about Jack's frustration going up the hill to find water for Jill". We already know it's frustrating to go up the hill, on top of that to carry a pail of water. We WANT to know HOW Jack manage to fetch that water for Jill.

What is so unique about your film?
Ask yourself these questions - why would you want to watch another half-past six MATRIX when Hollywood has done it perfectly? Why would you want to watch another Godfather when the one done by Francis Ford Coppola is considered the TOP 5 best film of ALL TIME in the world. Why would you want to watch another INFERNAL AFFAIRS when even the one remade by Martin Scorsese (The Departed) is considered inferior to the original done by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak in Hong Kong?

I feel that "wannabe" film story tellers are so fearful of how people would react to their work. Or how their film would look like. I've mentioned this and I'll mention this again. STORY is king, and I believe this applies to to making music/poetry as well. When your CONTENT is good and effective, people will be drawn to it NATURALLY lah.

Technology CANNOT assist you when your storytelling is zero. Good example of impressive films with flawed storytelling - Spiderman lll, X-Men lll, 90% of Michael Bay's films, Gangs Of New York, Matrix lll, etc...

I observe that a lot of people are worried more about technique and style than CONTENT. Technical gimmick and eye candy CANNOT hide flawed storytelling. Your HDSLRs and REDs can come later, much later, after your STORY.

You want to be innovative? Fine. Go to film school or at least study the fundamentals about structure. Quentin Tarantino learnt about linear storytelling so that later he could start breaking some rules.

The late P Ramlee (father of Malay cinema) said, "Seni itu adalah kerja Tuhan maka lakukan dengan bersungguh-sungguh dan penuh keikhlasan" (Art is God's gift, thus practice it wisely with sincerity).

Yes the only way to get your film noticed is film festivals. Don't get disappointed if the first film festival you sent your film to gets rejected. Different film festivals have their own niche and target audience. One of the reasons your film gets rejected could be the theme in your film is not suitable for the film festival, or that the film festival's programmer is simply NOT into your film, not that your film might be bad. Otherwise EAT HUMBLE PIE and make another one, and another one, to improve on your storytelling.

Oh, your family and best friends are not exactly the best people to judge your work.

For my views on censorship, kindly read this article. On government film funding, check the Singapore Film Commission's website (which you can google/bing/yahoo).

I'm still self-funding my films. Either my stories are engaging that many of my collaborators may have volunteered themselves to see that it gets made (and I'm truely humbled), or they are too nice to tell me my stories suck (which I'll be upset as they're not being honest)! Either ways I still love them - after all this industry is about constructive criticism, no?

Just do it, the rest shall fall into place.
On that note, this film, Ramuan Rahasia, is seeking funds to complete.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Rumah Kita "Our House"

These "Rumah Kita' video advertorials were part of the Community Matters Public Education Media for Community Leader's Forum FPE 2010 by MENDAKI. 9 videos were screened. Participants were encouraged to engage effectively on self-reliant and empowerment following the video screening. Videos are conceptualised and co-produced by MENDAKI/CLF and Cokelat.

Presented here are the 2 videos I directed.

"Air dicincang tidak akan putus"

"Juru Gambar"

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Postscript: JALAN lll (final episode)

This last episode of the third season of JALAN was telecast on Nov 24 @2030hr on MediaCorp's Suria channel, Singapore.

The topic of the day was, "Who is the Malay person?" Tough one.

I enjoyed doing this scene so much I decided to use this as a special teaser for the episode.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

End credits 101.

Dear Majesty,

One of the things I've learnt with that film school diploma, subsequently a media & communications degree, was that credits are only given when one actually DOES SOMETHING for/in a production.

Nonetheless YOUR name HAS been included at the end credits in the first place, your majesty. And NONE of your subordinates would dare to overlook that. Oh no.

Did I miss anything, or could there be a fine print in any of those film school texts that say when a project is good/successful, everybody takes credit - or in your majesty's case, to be acknowledged with queen-like grace?

Subsequently, could you banning me from your castle's gates be another one of your majesty's vendetta against those who does the unthinkable - in my case making that mistake of crowding your name in that single page end credit with mine? But I remembered we collaborated and did put those ideas together, turning the programme to what it was, didn't we?

THAT series went on to become the NUMBER ONE magazine show in the network's HISTORY and it apparently set a BENCHMARK for future shows of that genre ...or so I was told.

Whoah, I would never have dared to take your majesty's crown, the seats would be too high for me to come down and mingle with my fellow peasants.

My humble peasant apologies if my fellow peasants missed your royal majesty's majestic name in the credits and chose to acknowledge us, the peasants instead. After all, end credits go too fast, don't they?

Perhaps in future, we can linger on your majesty's name for 3-5 mins, instead of 3-5 secs in a single credit page. But that would eat into the duration for the programme's ACTUAL content. Would it comfort you if the fonts are made bigger to compensate the too-short duration?

The peasants humbly await to be enlightened. Majulah (Melayu) Singapura!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My viewpoint on local film regulation/censorship.

[reproduced from SINdie]
"We continue with a series of responses from local filmmakers on the current regulation and/or censorship system in Singapore. This is an ongoing project initiated by a group of students from LASALLE. Discussions and exchange of views are encouraged between members of the public and arts practitioners on the regulatory issue of films in Singapore. View our previous interviews here.

We find out what local filmmaker, Sanif Olek has to say:

1. During the process of making a film, have you ever felt restricted by any regulatory boundaries set by MDA? If yes, in what ways?
Telling stories is an intuitive, instinctive process. I let my stories flow. My work in television trains me a lot about restrictions. Nevertheless, I don't see restrictions as limitations. There are other ways of telling your stories and communicating your ideas effectively. But if one needs to shoot a scene of someone "licking" ice-cream, I'm afraid there are no other ways of presenting someone "licking" the ice-cream, are there?

2. If for artistic purposes, would you make a film which you know might attract censors or cuts but still continue to do it anyway? Why?
I want to tell my stories effectively and avoid sensationalism for the sake of being sensational. I shoot something because there is something that I want to communicate. You can't fool the audience if your film is not sincere. I don't shoot a film on purpose to attract negativity. I think the panel in the censors are getting smarter. There are 6877000000 people in the world who wants to see your film, with or without censors.

3. In the Arts Community Position Paper, it is suggested that regulation should be implemented in place of censorship, as the former involves objective classification that is not politically-motivated. What is your view?
Can you rephrase your question, please? This question is too cheem for my heartland intellect lah.

4. Two of MDA’s guiding principles behind its regulatory work are to uphold community values and to safeguard national and public interest. What is your view?
State whatever they like. Yes we can find all of these in their mission statement.
However, I do agree that Singapore is multiracial and race and religion are very delicate issues. Some adult individuals are mentally-deranged when it comes to these things and still need the government to look after them. *not insulting the intellectually-handicapped here - please stick to context*

5. Have you participated in any discussion programmes or feedback consultations with regards to content regulation initiated by MDA? Would you participate in future? Why?
Was invited but most of the time didn't go because 1. invited at the last minute or 2. couldn't be bothered as most of the time these panels treat these discussions like primary school social class (?) sessions. I got bills to pay (don't we all..?), and that's very important for struggling artistes like myself. Yes would love to come.

6. What do you have to say about the censoring/banning of content in films screened in local theatres which are still obtainable on the Internet?
There's so much the MDA or any censorship bodies can do but ultimately I think PARENTS are still responsible to what their kids watch on the internet. Technology is so advance these days for the parent to utilise to regulate what they want their children to watch.
Thank you SINdie.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

An invitation to celebrate LOVE.

You are invited.

Sanif Olekʼs LOVE Trilogy kicks off the new Sinema Export!. The LOVE trilogy, comprising of the short films LOST SOLE, À LA FOLIE and AMEEN, have won numerous awards and screened at numerous international film festivals. Director will be in attendance with selected cast. The Q&A session will be moderated by Nicholas Chee, Managing Director – Sinema.

Sinema Export! is a new event programme that will screen award-winning and acclaimed selection of local films. All sessions will be followed by a Q&A session.

Sinema Export! Sanif Olekʼs LOVE Trilogy
Tuesday, 12 October 2010, 8pm
Sinema Old School
Admission is FREE, entry by tickets which can be booked from

The films in Sanif Olekʼs LOVE Trilogy have been independently produced by reeljuice.

1. LOST SOLE | Bawean, Malay, Hokkien | 17mins | PG
Synopsis: Hj Sabtu discovers to his dismay that his slippers have gone missing after Friday noon solat at Kampung Glam. How far can he go without his sole? The search for his slippers leads to self-discovery.

~~~Awards & Selected Screenings~~~
Best Film on Religion, Int'l Festival of Short Films on Culture 2008, Jaipur
Best Narrative Film, Rahmat Int'l Shortfilm Festival 2008, Tabriz, Iran
Hawaii International Film Festival, USA
Tehran International Shortfilm Festival, Iran
Open Cinema Festival 2007, St Petersburg, Russia
Rhode Island International Film Festival 2006, USA
Montreal World Film Festival 2006, Canada
New York Museum of Modern Art 2006, USA
San Francisco Int’l Asian American Film Festival, USA
Emirates Film Festival, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Indianapolis International Film Festival, USA
Vancouver Singapore Film Festival, Canada

2. À LA FOLIE (LIKE CRAZY) | English, Malay | 12mins | M18
Synopsis: Set on Serangoon Road in Singapore's "Little India" quarter, the mythical characters of Sinta, Arjuna and Rawana from the classic Ramayana text are reincarnated in this present-day postmodern, rock-and-roll remix.

~~~Award & Selected Screenings~~~
Best Short Film, 4th Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival 2009, Indonesia
27th San Francisco Int’l Asian American Film Festival (USA, World Premiere)
25th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (USA)
32nd New York Asian American Int’l Film Festival (USA)
32nd Montreal World Film Festival (Canada)
5th Singapore Short Film Festival
29th Hawaii Int’l Film Festival (USA)
11th Jakarta International Film Festival (Indonesia)

3. AMEEN | Malay, Arabic | 14mins | NC16
Synopsis: Johan is infatuated with Yati and Sharifa, two girls from the Islamic Madrasah school. What exactly does Johan have up his sleeves in order to get the girlsʼ attention?"

AMEEN آمين is defined as a supplication or prayer asking for God’s help. “O Allah, respond to (or answer) what we have said”. (Source: Islamic –

~~~ International Film Festivals ~~~
26th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival 2010, USA (World premiere)
34th Montreal World Film Festival 2010, Canada
30th Hawaii International Film Festival 2010, USA

Thank you, Sinema + Singapore Polytechnic + Singapore Malay Film Society.

*UPDATE* Read the screening review here.

Monday, September 20, 2010

AMEEN premieres in Singapore

The film, AMEEN, finally premieres in Singapore.
Date: September 28 2010.
Event: Sinema Showoff!
Time: 7.30pm

Admission is free by tickets.

AMEEN is an official selection @
26th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (USA, World Premiere, 2010)
34th Montreal World Film Festival (Canada, 2010)
30th Hawaii International Film Festival (USA, 2010)

Director’s Statement
As a child, I attended six years of Islamic madrasah school while concurrently attending secular education at a public primary school. Subsequently, I attended secondary education at a Methodist missionary school.

With this diverse education, I feel blessed that I had the privilege not many boys at that age could experience. I remember that in all these institutions, a consistent education persisted – to love a fellow human being and accept one another unconditionally. Nevertheless I often pondered if sexuality and spiritually can co-exist while watching the lovely Ustazahs (female Islamic teacher) preach from the Quran and listening to the melodic hymns during weekly chapel services.

NOTE: The LOVE Trilogy of LOST SOLE, À LA FOLIE (LIKE CRAZY) & AMEEN will be screened at a Special Session on Tuesday, 12 October.

Friday, August 27, 2010

International screenings in September 2010

Event: 34th Montreal World Film Festival ❛le Festival des Films du Monde❜
Date: September 2, 3
Link to website here.

Event: 3rd Vancouver Singapore Film Festival
Date: September 17
Link to website here.

Thank you so much for the love and support.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

An icing on the cake.

Just sharing...
The drama, "1988...Segaris Sinar", about the lives of seven bosom friends who grew up together in an orphanage, received two thumbs up from the Committee as it was a good example of creative story-telling. The MPAC lauded the producer’s efforts to incorporate history into the drama as it looked at how the orphanage, which was set in the 80s, shaped the children’s upbringing and their individual perspectives that subsequently impacted the decisions and choices they made as adults. The drama was found to be well-produced, with good chemistry between the actors and smooth transitions between scenes and plots. In addition, the drama conveyed good moral values such as standing up for oneself and maintained a high standard of Bahasa Melayu.
The Malay Programmes Advisory Committee (MPAC) report, 2008/2010.

1988... Segaris Sinar "Constellations" was conceptualised by reeljuice. A production of Shortman Films, the drama series was directed by Sanif Olek.

Thank you for the love and support. Keep watching television :)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Politically correct

Nationality: Singaporean
Ethnicity: Baweanese-Malay
Religious affiliation: Islam
Full-time National Service: (1989)1991-1993|1st Company|1st Commando Battalion|SAF

I'm shocked and angered upon reading this article. I'm shocked how an individual can be so naive about jihad. More importantly am angered because another blacksheep has jeopardised my freedom as a Singaporean. How much more marginalised do we have to be? Would my family and friends be subjected to further scrutiny because of this?

Don’t let my pictures fool you. I was one of only two Malay boys enlisted to the exclusive 1st Commando Battalion unit that year among hundreds of Malays my age. It has been that way annually eversince, last I heard. Why this (under)representation? Read your politics.

Islam and all other religions are meant to be a spiritual aslyum to all human beings, not to be used as a weapon against one another. All religions are good in their own way. Please do not let Muhammad Fadil Abdul Hamid's case affect your judgement on the rest of Muslims.

Majulah Singapura!

*1989 ratio of Malay to non-Malay recruits 1:150.
1993 ratio of Malay to non-Malays during ORD 1:60.
Both of us ORD together, bodies intact.
The Commandos adhere to SAF safety regulations at all times ;)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Spotted during "Bulan Bahasa Melayu 2010"

Spotted @ Boon Lay Bus Interchange, Singapore, during "Bulan Bahasa Melayu 2010"

Which Malay universe does the copywriter for this fancy Malay tagline come from?

Maaf, saya tidak faham lah.
(click on photo to magnify)

Friday, June 18, 2010

A moving letter in support of Ramuan Rahasia.

I'd like to share this which came to my inbox a few days ago. Gestures such as this pushes me on to keep going in this journey.

Dear Sanif

My name is SX and I recently came across news articles about you making our country's first Malay language feature film in 4 decades. As a young Chinese Singaporean who is just about to learn to make sense of his place in this society, I began to realise the importance of reconciling the Malay roots of this country. Your film is very important not only to the Malay community but the rest of Singapore too, who are in a process of questioning and creating our identity, faced with rapid globalisation and the influx of immigrants into our country.

I recently graduated from school, reading Communication Studies in university and was thus exposed to the history of our film industry, which had a vibrant and thriving Malay film industry, something which my parents said they fondly remember. Your Malay-language film may not be similar to films from the Cathay-Keris period but it will bring back sentiments of the older days.

As such, I would like to support by pledging a sum of $50 to support your film. As a fresh graduate, I don't have much resources to offer but the gesture my little amount would be a great honour and opportunity for me to do something meaningful for the film community and for Singapore. Do let me know how I can transfer the money to you.

All the best to the making of Ramuan Rahasa!

A gesture with a big heart. I am moved and truly humbled. Thank you SX, you have given me another reason why I NEED to complete this film.

[NOTE: Ramuan Rahasia needs S$350K to shoot & post-production]

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Radio interview @ Bfm 89.9 [Kuala Lumpur]

Bfm (Business 89.9fm) is based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Listen to the interview here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Ramuan Rahasia article in Utusan Malaysia

Read all about it here, published originally by Malaysia's Utusan Malaysia "Malaysian Courier" on May 19 2010. Utusan Malaysia is the number one selling Malay-language daily in Malaysia.

Tidak mahu berhenti berharap


BIARPUN masih baru dalam bidang pengarahan filem, hakikatnya pengalaman yang diraih lebih sedekad dalam bidang penerbitan televisyen di Singapura tidak boleh dipertikaikan.

Bukan sekadar dikenali dalam dunia televisyen tetapi, Sanif Olek juga cemerlang sebagai pengarah filem pendek.

Buktinya, tiga filem pendeknya yang dirangkumkan dalam trilogi LOVE iaitu Lost Sole, A La Folie dan Ameen kesemuanya sudah menjelajah dunia serta menerima pelbagai pengiktirafan dan mendapat pujian ramai pihak.

Berbekalkan pengalamannya itulah, akhirnya Sanif memberanikan diri untuk mengorak langkah sebagai pengarah filem cereka pula.

Menggunakan judul Ramuan Rahasia, Sanif meletakkan harapan yang cukup tinggi untuk filem cereka pertama yang diterbitkan oleh syarikatnya, Reeljuice itu apabila ditayangkan.

Sementelah, Ramuan Rahasia juga merupakan filem Melayu dari Singapura yang pertama selepas empat dekad republik itu tidak menghasilkan filem Melayu selepas era Cathay Keris dan Shaw Brothers.

Memang Sanif atau nama sebenarnya Mohamad Sanif Olek mahu melihat filemnya itu mencapai kejayaan yang mampu meletakkan kembali nama Singapura di peta perfileman nusantara khususnya.

Malah, dia begitu optimis dengan jalan ceritanya yang begitu kemelayuan dan mampu menarik perhatian ramai untuk menontonnya kelak.

Namun, sinar yang diharap akan terus menerangi jalannya itu nampaknya semakin ditelan kabus apabila penggambaran filem tersebut kini tergendala seketika.

Semuanya kerana faktor kewangan yang membantutkan seketika proses penggambaran yang kini sudah pun siap 65 peratus.

"Bukan mahu mendabik dada tetapi saya begitu yakin dan percaya dengan kemampuan filem ini yang dapat pergi jauh.

"Malah, saya juga berazam untuk membawa filem ini ke serata dunia menerusi festival filem antarabangsa yang pernah saya sertai sebelum ini.

"Kerana itu, saya mahu mencari dan menemui mana-mana pihak yang sudi untuk membantu saya dari segi dana bagi meneruskan projek filem ini," katanya penuh jujur dalam satu pertemuan bersama Hits di ibu negara, baru-baru ini.

Demi cinta dan minatnya yang begitu mendalam terhadap filem, Sanif langsung tidak lokek untuk mengeluarkan dana dari poket sendiri iaitu $350,000 dolar Singapura (RM850,000) untuk menyiapkan sebahagian filem itu.

Jika semua berjalan lancar dan ada pihak yang sudi menaja serta membiayai projek filem Ramuan Rahasia dalam waktu terdekat ini, Sanif akan meneruskan penggambaran filem tersebut dengan secepat mungkin.

"Apa yang saya lakukan ini bukan untuk diri saya sendiri tetapi juga untuk mengembalikan semula kegemilangan industri perfileman Melayu Singapura.

"Saya menerbitkan dan mengarahkan filem ini juga bukan kerana faktor kenegaraan tetapi atas nama kesatuan Melayu Nusantara.

"Bagi saya, budaya Melayu memang sesuatu yang cukup unik dan apabila ditonjolkan dalam medium filem, ia mampu menarik perhatian ramai khususnya masyarakat dunia untuk menontonnya.

"Setidak-tidaknya, kita memiliki sesuatu yang mampu membuka mata mereka dalam menonjolkan keunikan budaya Melayu itu sendiri," tuturnya penuh merendah diri yang turut menulis lakon layar Ramuan Rahasia bersama temannya, Gene Sha Rudyn.

Pada pertemuan itu, Sanif sempat mempertontonkan sedutan filem Ramuan Rahasia kepada Hits dan apa yang boleh dikatakan, ia cukup mengagumkan.

Bukan sengaja memuji melangit, tetapi melihat hasil kerja Sanif menerusi filem itu memang sewajarnya dipuji.

Ramuan Rahasia bukan sekadar terletak kepada kekuatan jalan ceritanya yang mengetengahkan tentang kasih sayang, cinta dan kekeluargaan.

Tetapi, ia juga cemerlang dari aspek teknikal khususnya sinematografi yang dipersembahkan dengan cukup indah.

Menyambung bicara, Sanif tidak mahu audiens menonton Ramuan Rahasia sebagai tontonan untuk hiburan semata-mata.

Sebaliknya, dia mahu penonton menyelami intipati filem tersebut yang dapat menghubungkan diri mereka dengan perjalanan cerita itu.

"Filem ini sememangnya begitu tebal dengan jiwa Melayunya dari segala aspek dan kerana itu, saya mengetengahkan masakan sambal goreng sebagai subjek utama Ramuan Rahasia.

"Memang sengaja saya pilih sambal goreng kerana ia begitu dekat dengan masyarakat Melayu dan uniknya, berlainan negara, berbeza jugalah cara masakannya.

"Sambal goreng dijadikan sebagai metafora dalam filem ini dalam menyatukan kembali hubungan antara seorang ayah dan anak selepas perginya orang yang tersayang dalam hidup mereka," cerita graduan Jabatan Filem, Bunyi dan Video, Politeknik Ngee Ann di Singapura pada tahun 1996 ini lagi.

Selain itu juga, Sanif menyelitkan beberapa buah lagu klasik popular di kalangan masyarakat Melayu seperti Si Jali Jali, Pesan Kakek dan Sayang Di Sayang bagi memperindahkan lagi filem Ramuan Rahasia.

Mengambil makanan sebagai tema dalam sesebuah filem, hakikatnya bukanlah sesuatu yang asing kerana sebelum ini pun ada pembikin filem antarabangsa yang sudah berbuat demikian.

Antaranya adalah filem Eat Drink Man Woman arahan Ang Lee, Chocolat (Lasse Hallström), Babette's Feast (Gabriel Axel) dan Like Water For Chocolate (Alfonso Arau).

Filem Ramuan Rahasia dimantapkan lagi barisan pelakonnya yang bukan calang-calang dan kerana itu jugalah, Sanif begitu teruja sekali gus berbangga mengarahkan filem ini.

Menerajui filem ini ialah seniman handalan tanah air, Datuk Rahim Razali yang memainkan watak Pak Harun.

Selain itu, beberapa nama hebat dari Singapura yang turut menerajui filem tersebut ialah Aidli 'Alin' Mosbit yang memegang watak sebagai Murni, Rafaat Hamzah (Rosli) dan Keagan Kang (Dave).

Malah, aktor kacak popular, Aaron Aziz juga berlakon dalam filem ini sebagai pelakon pembantu.

Sambil menghela nafas panjang, dia tidak pernah menyangka filem pertamanya itu dibintangi oleh barisan pelakon hebat dan mantap terutama sekali Rahim.

"Tidak pernah saya menyangka untuk seorang aktor ternama seperti Rahim mahu berlakon dalam filem arahan pengarah baru seperti saya.

"Rahim memberitahu saya, dia tertarik untuk berlakon dalam filem ini adalah kerana skrip dan jalan ceritanya.

"Saya cukup hormat dan menggemari lakonan serta hasil karyanya sejak dari filem Abang lagi. Dia sendiri sebelum ini ada menghubungi saya bertanyakan tentang perkembangan filem ini.

"Saya cuma berkata kepadanya kalau sudah ada bajet yang mencukupi, penggambaran akan diteruskan dan dia akan sabar menanti untuk melunaskan tanggungjawabnya," jelas Sanif yang turut memilih Australia sebagai lokasi filem ini selain Singapura.

Thank you Shazryn for the wonderful article.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ramuan Rahasia in The Star

Read all about it here, published originally by Malaysia's The Star on April 28 2010. The Star is the leading English-language tabloid format newspaper in Malaysia. This article is also published in Sinema Malaysia.

Sanif side up

This director is fast gaining attention as the man who’s giving Singapore its first Malay feature film in almost four decades.

HE is an award-winning freelance television director and producer with over 10 years’ experience working in Singapore. Sanif Olek, however, is also a filmmaker at heart and the work he has done outside of the mainstream in Singapore has his countrymen and international film festivals rather excited.

Sanif has only three short films under his belt – Lost Sole, A La Folie and Ameen – known collectively as the Love Trilogy. Even though it is a small, sporadic body of work (the three films were made over a period of five years), his stories have a unique voice and point of view that put the Singaporean on the fast track to becoming a filmmaker to look out for.

His upcoming project may be his most notable yet. Not only is it his first feature-length film, Ramuan Rahasia (The Secret Ingredient) –which is still in the works – is significantly the first Malay-language feature to emerge from the island republic after almost 40 years.

In an interview in Kuala Lumpur recently, Sanif recounted his forays into filmmaking. “After graduating from Ngee Ann Polytechnic in 1996, I went straight into television, working in a production house for two years before going on to freelance TV production. Back in the mid-1990s, there was no proper structure if you wanted to go into film (in Singapore). You had people like Eric Khoo whom I consider to be a pioneer in independent filmmaking but for the rest of us, it’s pretty much like being in limbo. So it took me 10 years to do my first short film,” recalled the 40-year-old.

Sanif, however, wasn’t just bidding his time before he could break out and make his own films. Being in the TV industry for as long as he has made Sanif aware of the kind of stories that were being told on a regular basis on mainstream television and how much he wanted to tell his own.

“Ten years as a producer and director doing commercial television gave me a good grounding because I could see what I really wanted to do – to tell stories ... preferably real stories. And that’s what I couldn’t do in television but I did in my short films,” he said.

The language of love

For his first short film, Lost Sole, Sanif looked inwardly for inspiration and remembered what happened to his father who had walked home barefoot from prayers after his slippers were stolen.

“I was eight then and I still remember clearly the day my dad came home without his slippers and my mum asked him what had happened. He told her they got stolen while he was praying. And she said: ‘So why didn’t you steal someone else’s?’ And my dad was like, ‘Look, I’m going there to pray, to redeem myself. So what’s the point if I end up stealing?’” Sanif laughed.

Spirituality and love are the main themes behind all of Sanif’s short films but so are language and identity. Sanif, of Boyanese heritage, wrote Lost Sole with characters speaking either Boyanese Malay or Hokkien. (The Boyanese hailed from Pulau Bawean, or Boyan, an island north of Surabaya, Indonesia, in the Java Sea.)

“Bahasa Melayu Baku is the medium used in Singapore. My ethnicity is Boyanese and I just found that using Bahasa Boyan was more expressive than Bahasa Baku. I also didn’t use Mandarin (another main medium) but Hokkien instead,” Sanif explained.

Besides language, there is also a restriction on the portrayal of religion in film and television in Singapore. Such constraints were just some of the hindrances that Sanif faced working in the mainstream. The other was a strict adherence to structure.

“Coming from a commercial background, everything was very structured. When I made my second short film (A La Folie), I had a concept but no script. I got two of my actor friends together and we shot it in two nights in Little India, Serangoon Road,” he said.

With a mix of abandon and creative desire, Sanif and crew whipped up a story based on the classic Hindu text The Ramayana and produced a story on “revenge, reconciliation and love”.

“The are many facets of love ... love of family, spouse, religion, etc, but in the English language it’s just known as love,” said Sanif.

With his third short Ameen, Sanif focused on “spiritual love” and the perception people have of each other.

“The inspiration behind this short is based on some of my ‘colourful’ friends. Some of them have tattoos and some have been in jail but are now reformed. But they still find it difficult to get a job or get married. So what I’m trying to say is ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ and really, who are we to judge people simply because they have tattoos.”

By employing such universal themes as love in his films, Sanif has proven that his stories can cross borders, cultures and languages. His short films have travelled international film fests in Hawaii, San Francisco and New York in the United States, St Petersburg (Russia), Montreal (Canada) and Tehran (Iran).

A La Folie won best short film at the 2009 Jogja-Netpac Asian Film Festival, Indonesia, and Lost Sole was bestowed best film on religion at the 2008 International Festival of Short Films on Culture, Jaipur (India), and best narrative film at the 2008 Rahmat International Short Film Festival, Tabriz (Iran).

More importantly though, this local boy has struck a chord with his audiences at home who can relate to his stories. And Sanif also recognises the fact that growing up and working in the Singaporean TV industry has helped shape the filmmaker he is today.

He is, however, finding it difficult to get Ramuan Rahasia off the ground. One of the main problems he faces is funding (at the time of the interview, Sanif said he had secured about 65% of the financing) and the other is the film’s commercial viability.

The film centres around an elderly, wheelchair-bound man, played by veteran Malaysian actor Datuk Rahim Razali, who lives a lonely existence tended to only by a maid. The old man complains about the maid’s cooking and tries to get rid of her but it is through the maid and the food she cooks that she reconciles the old man and his son.

The film’s other stars include Aaron Aziz, Rafaat Hamzah, Aidli Mosbit and Keagan Kang.

It is indeed a hard sell for a film which features a wheelchair-bound geriatric, so what made Sanif want to make such a film?

“It’s quite common in Singapore for people to hire maids to look after their elderly parents. I wanted to tell a story about kasih sayang (love) and how to bring people together,” he noted.

The project has already received a lot of news coverage because of it being a Malay-language movie from Singapore after a near-40-year gap (the last, Satu Titik Di-Garisan by Cathay-Keris Film Production, appeared in 1973).

“I’ve kept the project under wraps and I don’t know how it got all over the news. It got a lot of people excited and they kept asking me when it’ll be done and initially, I tried to hide the fact that I didn’t have enough money to make the film. But after a while I got tired of it and told them, ‘I don’t have the money to make the film,’” smiled Sanif.

When asked whether he could get funding through the government, the director said: “Yes, you can through the Singapore Film Commission but its focus is to make commercial films. And there are guidelines that you have to follow once funding is approved. Doing a Malay film ... it simply hasn’t been tested in the Singapore market. There has been no Malay film for almost the last 40 years.

“I see this as a challenge though, and I’m convinced that a Malay film can make money. I have well-known actors from Malaysia and Singapore. I believe I have the right ingredients to make a commercial film.”

Thank you Rizal for the great write-up.

Ramuan Rahasia in Berita Harian

Read all about it here, published originally by Malaysia's Berita Harian on April 27 2010. Berita Harian is Malaysia's largest Malay newspaper - covering all of Peninsula Malaysia and Sabah & Sarawak in Borneo.

Sanif cari dana filem Ramuan Rahasia
Oleh Zaidi Mohamad

SANIF Olek atau nama sebenarnya Mohamad Sanif Olek memang terlalu asing di Malaysia. Bagaimanapun, di negara jiran yang juga tempat kelahirannya di Singapura, namanya tidak perlu lagi diperkenalkan. Sanif membina label namanya dalam pengarahan, penerbitan dan pencetus konsep kandungan TV di sana.

Tidak terbatas hanya untuk drama TV, lelaki berusia 40 tahun ini turut memberi variasi kepada penerbitan rancangan berbentuk majalah. Kerjasamanya dengan agensi serta produksi popular di Singapura juga mula mengukuhkan kelangsungan bakatnya.

Graduan sekolah filem Singapura, Jabatan Filem, Bunyi dan Video dari Politeknik Ngee Ann sekitar 1996 ini juga sudah mula berjinak-jinak menerbitkan filem pendek. Tiga karya trilogi cintanya berjudul Lost Sole, A La Folie dan Ameen antara bukti betapa dia mahu melampiaskan bakatnya terhadap medium filem.

Sanif juga bakal mencipta sejarah tersendiri dalam usaha mengembalikan kegemilangan filem Melayu di Jalan Ampas, Singapura termasuk pembabitan produksi Cathay Keris Films dan Shaw Brothers. Selepas lebih empat dekad, Sanif meletakkan harapan yang tinggi kepada buah tangan terbarunya sebuah filem cereka berjudul Ramuan Rahasia.

“Skrip dan konsep filem ini dihasilkan sejak 2001 lagi dan akibat masalah tertentu termasuk soal mencari dana dan penaja, penggambaran filem ini hanya direalisasikan sejak Februari tahun lalu. Bagaimanapun, usaha saya menamatkannya masih tersekat kerana kekurangan dana.

“Setakat ini boleh dikatakan baru 65 peratus siap dan selebihnya masih tergendala buat seketika. Tak saya nafikan memang sukar mencari penaja. Di Singapura sendiri, usaha mendapatkan penajaan sendiri berakhir dengan kekecewaan kerana ada yang masih belum yakin dengan komersial filem Melayu.

“Tetapi saya masih bersyukur media di sana termasuk masyarakat menghargai apa yang saya lakukan. Malah, saya berbangga Cathay Keris Films akan menjadi pengedar,” katanya dalam satu pertemuan di Kuala Lumpur baru-baru ini.
Menurut graduan ijazah sarjana muda bidang media dari University Murdoch, Perth, Australia ini lagi, dia masih mengalu-alukan kehadiran pihak penaja untuk memastikan apa yang dirancangnya membuahkan hasil. Sesiapa yang berminat untuk menyalurkan dana atau bekerjasama dengannya boleh e-melkan ke

“Saya tidak mahu inisiatif ini berakhir dengan kehampaan kerana terlalu lama saya menunggu untuk memastikan ia menjadi kenyataan. Sebelum ini bukan saya hanya mahu fokus kepada TV semata-mata, cuma ruang, peluang dan faktor masa itu agak mencemburui.

“Dengan pengalaman yang saya timba di TV termasuk menghasilkan filem pendek, ia menjadi azimat berguna untuk saya terus bermuhasabah diri. Kesilapan itu pasti ada dan ia menjadi suntikan semangat untuk saya terus belajar memperbaiki kelemahan yang ada dan kumpulkan semangat baru bagi menghasilkan filem pula,” katanya sambil memberitahu kos keseluruhan menghasilkan filem Ramuan Rahasia hampir mencecah RM1 juta.

Ditanya lanjut mengenai filem sulungnya yang berdurasi 90 minit itu, Sanif memberitahu ia menggunakan dwibahasa, Melayu dan Inggeris. Paling penting, Sanif mengangkat simbolik kepada makanan popular masyarakat Melayu iaitu sambal goreng di samping memainkan 10 lagu Melayu popular.

Antara lagu yang dimainkan ialah Si Jali-Jali, Sayang Di Sayang dan Pesan Kakek. Filem ini dilakonkan pelakon hebat Malaysia, Datuk Rahim Razali dan pelakon Singapura yang melebarkan sayapnya di Malaysia seperti Aaron Aziz Rafaat Hamzah, Aidli ‘Alin’ Mosbit dan Keagan Kang.

“Sebelum sambal goreng, saya berdepan dengan dilema sama ada mahu mengetengahkan nasi lemak yang popular di kalangan pelbagai lapisan masyarakat. Akhirnya sambal goreng juga yang bertuah kerana terpilih. Insya-Allah, selain Singapura, saya tengah berusaha untuk memastikan ia ditayangkan di Malaysia dan Indonesia.

“Filem ini sebenarnya menjadikan faktor makanan itu sebagai metafora atau perlambangan dalam mengungkap erti pahit manis dalam kehidupan. Ia juga akan memaparkan aspek unik dalam budaya dan warisan Melayu serta orang Muslim kepada dunia. Pertembungan pegangan budaya tradisi dan moden juga diperlihatkan,” katanya.

INFO: Sanif Olek
•Memulakan pengajiannya di sekolah filem Singapura, Jabatan Filem, Bunyi dan Video dari Politeknik Ngee Ann, Singapura pada 1993 dan tamat tiga tahun selepas itu.
•Masih solo.
•Sudah 15 tahun membabitkan diri dalam medium TV
•Hanya selepas 10 tahun di TV baru memberanikan diri untuk menghasilkan filem pendek
•Pernah merangkul beberapa anugerah sebagai pencipta kandungan dan pengarah TV contohnya Anugerah Siri Drama Terbaik dan Pengarah Terbaik untuk drama Segaris Sinar.
•Filem pendek Lost Sole ditayangkan di lebih 30 festival filem antarabangsa termasuk di Hawaii, San Fransisco, New York dan Tehran.
•Turut bergelar pengarah sambilan di Jabatan Filem dan Media, Politeknik Ngee Ann.
•Layari laman sesawang, untuk maklumat lanjut.

Thank you Zaidi for the wonderful article.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ramuan Rahasia article in Harian Metro

Read all about it here, published originally by Malaysia's Harian Metro on April 21 2010. Harian Metro is Malaysia's highest-circulating Malay-language newspaper, and is read largely by Malay urban dwellers.


NAMA Mohd Sanif Olek, 40, mungkin masih asing kepada kita. Bagaimanapun, di tanah kelahirannya di Singapura, Sanif antara karyawan seni yang aktif di belakang tabir dunia penerbitan drama, majalah dan iklan komersial. Tiga filem pendek terbitan dan arahannya, Lost Sole, A la folie dan Ameen pernah mendapat pengiktirafan antarabangsa.

Lulusan filem dari Jabatan Filem, Bunyi dan Video, Politeknik Ngee Ann, Singapura dan pemegang Ijazah Sarjana Muda Media dari Universiti Murdoch, Perth, Australia ini mempunyai cita-cita besar untuk mengembalikan kemasyhuran kegemilangan filem Melayu di Singapura.

Ia bukan sekadar omongan kosong kerana atas daya usaha sendiri, Sanif kini menerbitkan filem sulungnya berjudul Ramuan Rahasia. Ia filem yang mengetengahkan identiti diri orang Melayu dengan mengetengahkan sambal goreng yang menjadi makanan kegemaran harian masyarakat Melayu sebagai tema.

Filem itu lakonan Datuk Rahim Razali, Adlin Mosbit, Rafaat Hamzah, Keagan Kang, Aaron Aziz, Shah Iskandar, Asnida Daud, Marina Yusoff dan Nurul Aini.

Ramuan Rahasia adalah filem Melayu pertama selepas empat dekad sejak era kegemilangan Cathay Keris dan Shaw Brothers berakhir.

Meskipun kekurangan modal, Sanif berani terbitkan juga filem itu kerana seseorang perlu memulakan sesuatu.

Dalam pertemuan dengan Wartawan Hiburan Harian Metro, NOR AKMAR SAMUDIN, di Kuala Lumpur, baru-baru ini, Sanif dengan rendah hati beritahu dia mohon pembiayaan untuk menyiapkan Ramuan Rahasia. Ia baru 65 peratus siap dan masih perlukan dana.

Selama 15 tahun terbabit dalam bidang penerbitan, Sanif sudah menerima pelbagai anugerah di Singapura dan peringkat antarabangsa.

Antaranya, Pengarah Terbaik Drama Bersiri (1988, Segaris Sinar), Siri Info-ad Terbaik (Mentari, siri 1 & 2), Info-Majalah Terbaik/Siri Gayahidup (So Lazat), Pengarah Drama Terbaik (Kaki Borak), Siri Kebudayaan Terbaik (Semarak Budaya), Filem Pendek Terbaik (A la folie), Jogja-NETPAC Asian Filem Festival (Indonesia), Filem Terbaik Agama (Lost Sole), Festival Filem Pendek Kebudayaan (Jaipur, India), Filem Naratif Terbaik (Lost Sole) dan Festival Filem Pendek Antarabangsa Rahmat (Iran).

RAP: Kenapa selepas 40 tahun baru filem Melayu hidup semula di Singapura?

SANIF: Selepas berakhirnya era Cathay Keris dan Shaw Brothers di Singapura pada awal 1960-an, maka lenyaplah juga kegemilangan filem Melayu di pulau itu. Studio Jalan Ampas hanya jadi kenangan. Kini selepas 40 tahun berlalu sebagai seorang yang mencintai kesenian bangsa, saya terpanggil untuk menerbitkan filem Melayu dengan mengekalkan budaya dan adat resam orang Melayu Singapura.

Bukan senang hendak menerbitkan filem Melayu di Singapura kerana apabila saya berjumpa dengan pihak tertentu untuk mendapatkan sokongan mereka menganggap filem Melayu tiada nilai komersial. Mereka tidak tahu hendak melabelkan atau meletakkan filem Melayu itu dalam kategori apa dan di mana. Oleh itu saya perlu berusaha sendiri dengan mengumpul modal kerana tidak mahu jati diri orang Melayu Singapura turut terkubur sama.

Saya menerbitkan filem Ramuan Rahasia ini untuk memberi penghormatan kepada filem Melayu lama yang melahirkan pengarah filem legenda seperti Allahyarham Tan Sri P Ramlee, Hussin Haniff dan M Amin. Mereka ini banyak meninggalkan kenangan yang mengusik jiwa dan memori indah dalam kalangan penonton.

Skrip dan konsep filem ini sudah siap pada 2001 dan apabila saya beritahu hasrat membuat filem ini, masyarakat Melayu di sana memberikan sokongan kerana mereka juga teringin hendak menonton filem Melayu Singapura selepas sekian lama tiada yang berani menerbitkannya.

Dengan adanya filem ini juga saya berharap orang Melayu Singapura dapat memartabatkan semula budaya Melayu yang kian terhapus. Orang Melayu Singapura terutama golongan muda sudah hilang jati diri. Apabila saya berbual dengan orang luar, mereka kata sukar hendak kenal Melayu Singapura.

Syarikat penerbitan di sana lebih aktif menerbitkan drama untuk TV dan juga menghasilkan program hiburan. Ini kerana ia tidak memerlukan belanja yang besar dan lebih komersial.

RAP: Selepas 40 tahun tiada filem Melayu di Singapura anda tentu kena pastikan ia produk terbaik. Jadi apa istimewanya filem ini?

SANIF: Sudah tentu Ramuan Rahasia karya terbaik saya. Ia kisah menyayat hati mengenai cinta dalam keluarga dan hubungan kasih sayang antara generasi yang berbeza. Hubungan itu direnggangkan lagi oleh kongkongan emosi. Ilham saya datang selepas menonton filem Eat Drink Man Woman oleh Ang Lee, Chocolat, Babette's Feast dan Like Water For Chocolate. Semua cerita itu mengangkat makanan sebagai tema utama kerana daripada makanan kita boleh mengenali bangsa dan budayanya. Apabila sebut lemang orang tahu ia makanan kegemaran orang Perak dan lontong pula menjadi kesukaan orang Johor.

Jadi dalam filem ini saya ketengahkan sajian sambal goreng. Semua orang boleh menyediakan hidangan itu, tetapi mungkin yang membezakannya ramuan digunakan. Hidangan istimewa ini diketengahkan bagi memaparkan bentuk subteks yang terkandung dalam budaya Melayu yang kerap menghidangkan sambal goreng sebagai makanan harian.

Filem ini juga disulami banyak lagu klasik seperti Si Jali-Jali, Pesan Kakek dan Sayang Di Sayang untuk meletakkan filem ini dalam konteks budaya di rantau ini. Ragam ini dinyanyikan sendiri oleh watak utama filem ini.

RAP: Elemen lain terdapat dalam filem itu?

SANIF: Ramuan Rahasia juga memaparkan keunikan budaya dan warisan Melayu atau Muslim kepada dunia. Kebanyakannya daripada amalan yang lazim dilakukan oleh masyarakat Nusantara. Semua elemen itu disatukan dalam konteks Singapura moden. Misalnya babak memaparkan perkahwinan Melayu yang memperlihatkan pertembungan budaya Melayu kontemporari dan tradisi.

RAP: Ringkasan cerita Ramuan Rahasia?

SANIF: Murni seorang jururawat dan pembantu rumah dari Aceh yang bekerja dengan Pak Harun, seorang lelaki tua berkerusi roda yang dirundung kesepian. Murni dalam dilema untuk memasak hidangan sambal goreng yang sedap seperti masakan arwah isteri Pak Harun. Sikap Murni yang suka menyanyi di dapur juga membuatkan Pak Harun bertambah sakit hati.

Lalu Murni berusaha mencari ramuan rahsia yang membuatkan sambal gorengnya sedap. Apakah ramuan rahsia itu yang mampu meredakan ketegangan antara Murni dan Pak Harun serta menyatukan semula Pak Harun dengan anaknya, Rosli yang kini menetap di Sydney? Mampukan ramuan rahsia itu mengubati jiwa yang luka dan menyatukan mereka kembali untuk mengalunkan irama lagu yang sama? Itulah yang mahu saya paparkan.

RAP: Yakin filem ini akan mendapat sambutan?

SANIF: Saya yakin kerana penonton Melayu Singapura sudah lama teringin hendak menonton filem Melayu yang diterbitkan orang Singapura sendiri.

RAP: Barangkali ramai yang tidak kenal siapa Sanif? Ceritakan latar diri anda.

SANIF: Saya berpengalaman dalam bidang penerbitan drama, majalah dan pengiklanan. Saya mempunyai kelulusan daripada Jabatan Filem, Bunyi dan Video dari Politeknik Ngee Ann (1996), Singapura. Pada 2001 saya melanjutkan pengajian perfileman di Sekolah Media, Komunikasi dan Budaya di Universiti Murdoch, Perth, Australia dan mendapat ijazah sarjana muda dalam Media.

Tamat belajar, saya terus terbabit dalam bidang penerbitan televisyen dengan menjadi pengarah dan penerbit sambilan . Ada juga bertanya cukup makankah dengan kerja yang saya buat? Saya tidak ambil hati dengan soalan itu kerana tahu apa yang saya buat dan ia adalah minat saja sejak remaja. Selepas 10 tahun menimba pengalaman dalam bidang penerbitan, drama, iklan dan majalah saya terbitkan tiga filem pendek, Lost Sole, A la folie dan Ameen.

Saya dapat ilham menerbitkan filem pendek Lost Sole berdasarkan cerita bapa saya sendiri yang kehilangan kasut di masjid. Kejadian itu berlaku ketika saya masih kecil. Filem pendek itu mendapat pelbagai penghargaan antarabangsa dan dipilih secara rasmi dan ditayangkan di lebih 30 festival filem antarabangsa termasuk di Hawaii, San Francisco, New York, St Petersburg, Montreal dan Tehran.

Lost Sole sudah lapan kali dipertandingkan pada festival filem itu dan berjaya meraih dua anugerah filem. Lost Sole juga pernah ditayangkan di Museum of Modern Art, New York. Dalam diam tak diam sudah 15 tahun saya terbabit dalam bidang penerbitan ini.

RAP: Harapan anda terhadap filem Melayu di Singapura?

SANIF: Saya harap ada pihak yang sudi membantu usaha saya untuk mengembalikan semula kegemilangan filem Melayu di Singapura. Dengan adanya filem Melayu ini diharap dapat membantu golongan muda di sana mengenali asal- usul mereka. Saya berazam dalam setiap filem terbitan saya akan diselitkan budaya Melayu kerana sekarang identiti diri orang Melayu Singapura semakin terhakis.

Thank you Nor Akmar for the wonderful article.

NOTE: This film is still incomplete and appeals for funds/donations to finish the remaining 35% of shoot.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ramuan Rahasia article in New Straits Times

Read all about it here, published originally by Malaysia's New Straits Times on April 21 2010. New Straits Times is read by leaders and thinkers.

Sanif finds his missing ingredient

A lone Malay film from Singapore after 40 year prompts HIZREEN KAMAL to write about the man behind the reels.

MALAYSIA has a booming Malay film industry but neighbouring Singapore has not seen a Malay film emerge from its shores for nearly 40 years. The last Malay film from the island republic was Satu Titik Di-Garisan (by Cathay-Keris Film Production).

That film also marked the end of the Malay celluloid production in Singapore, as the industry then shifted its operations to Kuala Lumpur. While Singapore does produce several feature films, these are mostly in English and Chinese.

There was even one in Tamil recently. However, the future may be brighter for the island’s Malay film industry, thanks to Sanif Olek, Singapore’s award-winning short film director.

His directing credits include some television work and a trilogy of short films — Lost Sole (awarded Best Film on religion at the International Festival of Short Films on Culture, Jaipur and Best Narrative Film, International at the Rahmat International Short Film Festival, Tabriz, Iran, A La Folie (awarded Best Short Film at the fourth Jogja-Netpac Asian Film Festival 2009) and Ameen.

Admitting that the Malay voice in Singapore is under-represented, the 40-year-old is hopeful of reviving the Malay film industry in Singapore.

With 15 years experience in the island’s TV industry and known for a focused working style and demands on quality, Sanif is banking a lot on his debut Malay feature film, Ramuan Rahasia (The Missing Ingredient), to be released in Singapore and Malaysia at the end of the year.

Sanif, who holds a degree in media from Perth’s Murdoch University, also hopes the film would be a homage to legendary film-makers like Tan Sri P. Ramlee, Hussin Haniff and M. Amin.

Sanif said the idea for Ramuan Rahasia occurred to him eight years ago, and he took inspiration for the story from the people around him.

He is filming his debut feature under his company, reeljuice Films.

“This is a very important project for me. It is not only about being possibly the first Malay film after four decades post Jalan Ampas and Cathay-Keris, but also because the story covers a lot of elements that touch on (the lives of) modern contemporary Malays, making it relevant to both countries,” says Sanif who was in Kuala Lumpur recently to promote the film, which is 65 per cent completed.

Ramuan Rahasia is a tale of family love and inter-generational relationships and uses food such as sambal goreng as a metaphor for finding the missing ingredient.

Sanif said Ramuan Rahasia was inspired by films such as Ang Lee’s Eat Drink Man Woman, Lars Hallstrom’s Chocolat, Gabriel Axel’s Babette’s Feast and Alfonso Arau’s Like Water For Chocolate.

Adding spice to the film is the inclusion of classic Malay folk songs such as Si Jali-Jali, Pesan Kakek and Sayang Di Sayang, which are sung by key characters in the film.

While its uniqueness alone will draw an enthusiastic audience, this 90-minute film features an exceptionally strong cast.

Veteran actor Datuk Rahim Razali, whose four-decade award-winning career as a director, writer and actor has made him an icon in the Asia-Pacific region, has given his full support by sharing his rich experience with the Singapore production team and heading the list of cast.

Rahim also sings in Ramuan Rahasia.

Sanif, who had watched Rahim’s popular feature film, Abang, as a boy, said he had always wanted to have someone of his stature in his film. “It is a great honour, and working with him has been a humbling experience for me.”

Rahim plays a lonely widower who cannot stand his maid’s cooking.

“He had what was needed to bring out the character of a man who suffered a stroke and was reduced to being in a wheelchair,” says Sanif, who is grateful to the screen legend (known to be very selective in choosing a film project) for his involvement.

“Rahim did very well. His facial gestures and body language did it all,” he says.

Other crowd-pullers in the cast are Singapore’s rising stars including Aaron Aziz who is also making quite an impression in Malaysia, Rafaat Hamzah, Aidli “Alin” Mosbit and Keagan Kang.

“With the fine actors, popular songs of the past and heart-warming story, I think the film will surely strike a chord and delight a diverse audience, both commercial and art house,” says Sanif.

Of course he realises that the attempt to revive the Malay film industry in Singapore is no walk in the park, but he feels compelled to do it anyway.

“That’s the challenge. I come from an independent film-maker background. Before me, there was no Malay film-maker who did a short. After that, more and more Malay film-makers emerged. So, it felt good.

“(It is) the same with this project. It is going to be a good, but not smooth, ride. The first one is always not easy.

“Hopefully, it’s going to be how Pendekar Bujang Lapok is being talked and discussed even now.”
Sanif also hopes to look for financiers to complete the film, which has a projected budget of S$350,000 (RM828,554).

“Since there has been no commercial reference, it has been hard to convince investors to come in,” he says, adding that they were also apprehensive to fund the film for fear that it might not be a success.

So far, Sanif has used his own money on the project. On his thoughts about the local Malay film industry, Sanif said it is a thriving one with a mix of commercial and independent films.

“I see many talented young directors and producers lately. I believe it is moving forward and there are segments in the audience who long for ‘thinking’ films like those of the late Yasmin Ahmad’s.”

Thank you Hizreen for the wonderful article.

NOTE: This film is still incomplete and appeals for funds/donations to finish the remaining 35% of shoot.

Friday, April 16, 2010

LOVE Trilogy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

LOVE Trilogy was screened in Kuala Lumpur on 10 April 2010
[This review is by FADLI, and reproduced here from his blog]

Sabtu lepas, aku menonton Lost Sole, à la Folie, dan Ameen, trilogi filem pendek oleh Sanif Olek yang ditayangkan julung-julung kali di Malaysia di Annexe Central Market. Ketiga-tiganya filpen yang cantik. Semuanya dibikin dengan perhatian yang tulus oleh Sanif. Aku sebenarnya ingin benar menonton à la Folie kerana filpen itu memenangi filpen terbaik di Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival tahun lepas. Aku suka, sebab Sanif, bukan saja boleh membawa sebuah cerita yang berstruktur, seperti Lost Sole dan Ameen, yang penuh cukup serba serbi rencah penceritaan, boleh tetap memberi kita, para penonton kejutan dan pembukaan baharu yang tidak tersedar oleh kita. à la Folie pula semacam air, laluannya tidak ada batas dan lubang, lancar terus, penonton terus diberi beberapa pandangan, baik yang lepas, "akan datang" dan sekarang tentang paparan masa dan tempat seorang lelaki dan wanita bertemu kembali dan bercinta kembali. Persoalan peranan jantina, persoalan perilaku jantina dibawa ke depan. Ianya gelap tetapi indah, ianya kelakar tetapi masam. Yang memegang kedua-dua watak itu adalah "pemahaman yang sama" di antara segala pemahaman dan perasaan ini. Seakan, pernyataan, itulah cinta. Ini sebuah puisi yang moden daripada Sanif Olek, yang turut mempuisikan kehidupan malam urban Singapura, ruang dan waktu yang hanya sempat diberi kepada rakyatnya untuk bercinta (kerana pagi, sibuk cari wang katanya, haha).

Satu perkara yang menarik, Sanif begitu tulus, begitu lurus, menyatakan, apa-apapun, kita kembali kepada "agama" (walaupun kita tidak memahami misterinya). Ini dapat dilihat dalam ketiga-tiga filem ini, dengan rujukan masjid sebagai latar, baik secara sengaja atau tidak. Lost Sole dan Ameen lebih dekat kepada masjid (Masjid Sultan), di mana banyaknya babak dan adegan berlaku di kawasan itu, sementera à la Folie berlaku di "luar" masjid (menyatakan kedekatan atau kejauhan subjek cerita terhadap pendirian agama). Tetapi kalau kita cedok lagi, kita sedar bahawa Ameen banyak berlaku "dalam" masjid, Lost Sole di antara dalam dan luar masjid, dan à la Folie terus di luar masjid. Di sini, kita akan sedar, tahap kedekatan pertalian rohaniah (mendekati pemahaman Tuhan) dan perhubungan manusia (lebih sosial, lebih berkenaan manusia) antara tiga filem, mengikut kedekatan dan kejauhan subjek kepada latar masjid. Malah, memang, jika dilihat secara betul, Ameen memberi soalan agama yang paling tampak, malah amat "mendalam" tentang pemahaman dan ketentuan agama (jika bukan agama Islam, mungkin, tidak ramai yang menangkap makna filem ini). Sedang Lost Sole lebih "seimbang" menyatakan perincian pertalian antara manusia dan agama (dan mungkin sebab ini, penonton melihat filem ini sebagai paling sempurna), dan kemudian à la Folie yang mengambil agama sebagai cetusan falsafah. Menarik di sini adalah watak Sani Hussin, budak yang "bodoh-bodoh alang" yang aku lihat, bukan sahaja bermain sebagai comedy relief terhadap Lost Sole dan Ameen, tetapi juga sebagai "pencerita" sebenar yang menampilkan ketidaktentuan dan kelemahan jiwa manusia yang mengelilingi watak Sani Hussin (dan jangan lupa, mengelilingi masjid. Sani Hussin tinggal di masjid. Sani Hussin seakan pemahaman Islam yang benar yang tidak dikotorkan). Di sini, aku tertarik melihat dan teringat akan wali besar Singapura, Habib Nuh yang juga dipermain-mainkan orang pada zaman itu sebagai "majnun", walaupun kita tidak tahu kebenarannya.

Aku berharap sangat dunia Sanif Olek ini, yang memberi kita kesegaran terhadap dunia Melayu Singapura dapat dikupas lagi dan lagi. Dengarnya, beliau akan mengarah filem perdananya yang pertama dengan lakonan Rahim Razali, Ramuan Rahsia. Aku tak sabar melihat sentuhan Sanif yang begitu matang, berinspirasi dan faham tentang hal-hal nostalgia Melayu yang sudah lama kita tidak jumpa dalam sinema kita.

Thank you Fadli for the review.
I'm truly humbled by all the support and love. Keep the comments coming, they will be much appreciated by the cast and crew. To all who attended and made this event a successful full-house screening at the Annexe, THANK YOU.

The LOVE trilogy tours Johor Baru, Malaysia, in late May 2010.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Ramuan Rahasia artwork

The still-in-progress film feature, Ramuan Rahasia.

The artwork is created by Yane.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Makan Exposè

Hey friends, check out another tv programme I'm directing. It's called Makan Exposè, where we deconstruct various Malay dishes. 8 x 1/2hr episodes. Thursdays on MediaCorp's Suria channel 8.30pm. Premiered on 18 February 2010. English subtitled.

These dishes are
Rendang & Lontong
Mee Soto & Mee Siam
Nasi Padang & Sambal Belacan
Laksa & Rojak
Ice-Kacang & Cendol
Sambal Goreng & Asam Pedas
Nasi Lemak & Roti John


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ramuan Rahasia article in The Sun

Read the article here, published by The Sun, Malaysia's no 1 English newspaper. (The article is republished below) Original articles can be found here and here.

The Missing Ingredient
Singapore’s first Malay film in almost four decades has hit a snag
by Bissme S

After a nearly 40-year gap, Singapore is going to produce its first Malay feature film entitled Ramuan Rahasia (The Missing Ingredient).

The man behind this project is Singapore’s award-winning television director Sanif Olek. Ramuan Rahasia is his first feature film though he has directed several shorts and a handful of TV productions.

Ramuan Rahasia centres on a lonely elderly man, Pak Harun (played by Malaysian actor Rahim Razali), who lives in a big house in Pasir Ris with a live-in nurse-cum-maid called Murni.

The bitter old man complains about Murni’s cooking and tries to send her back to Indonesia. Eventually, it is her cooking that is instrumental in reconciling father and son.

The film also stars Aidli ‘Alin’ Mosbit, Rafaat Hamzah, Asnida Daud, J.A. Halim, Aminah Ahmad, Hasyimah Hamidon and Aaron Aziz.

"The Malay voice in Singapore is under-represented," Sanif, 40, says in an exclusive interview in Singapore recently. "Through Ramuan Rahasia, I hope to give a voice to my community here."

While Singapore has produced several feature films in English and Chinese, and even one in Tamil, not a single Malay film has emerged from the republic over the past four decades or so.

Indeed, Sanif is creating a milestone in the Singapore movie scene with this film, which is ironic on hindsight, as it was in Singapore that the Malay film industry was born.

The first Malay film was Laila Majnun (1933), directed by B.S. Rajhans and produced by the Singapore-based Motilal Chemical Company from Bombay.

Over time, the industry grew especially with the entry of the Shaw brothers (Run Run and Runme Shaw) from Hongkong in 1937 and the setting-up of their Malay Film Productions company. Later, a rival studio, Cathay-Keris Film Production, added to the number of Malay films being produced.

The golden age of the Malay film industry came after the World War II in the 1950s and early 60s which saw the birth of such glamorous and talented stars as our very own P. Ramlee, Siput Sarawak and Maria Menado.

But the advent of television soon put paid to the industry’s growth and in 1967, the Shaw Brothers closed down their studios in Singapore.

A few years later, in 1973, Cathay-Keris Film Production released its last film, Satu Titik Di-Garisan, marking an end to Malay film production onnthe island. The industry then shifted its operations to Kuala Lumpur.

The 1990s saw a revival of the Singapore film industry with emerging Singaporean filmmakers such as Eric Khoo and Jack Neo directing English, Chinese and Tamil films, but no Malay feature films – until now.

Sanif has completed 65% of Ramuan Rahasia using his own money but he is running short of funds.

He is now looking for new financing to complete the film, budgeted at S$350,000 (RM828,554), but he says it has not been an easy ride.

He admits the "big guns" are apprehensive about funding his film because they are afraid the movie might not be a success.

"There is always apprehension when something is not tested," he says, adding that he will have a better chance in getting investors’ attention if he was directing an English or Chinese movie.

"I grew up in a Malay environment in Singapore," he says. "If I make my film in Malay, it’ll sound more sincere. I’m not interested in making superficial films.

"Ultimately, this is not a wholly Malay film. It is a Singapore film. The theme is universal and even people in Africa can relate to it."

Sanif first became interested in film in a roundabout way. A camera he received as a gift from his father when he was a child triggered his passion for photography, and later moving pictures.

In 1996, he graduated from Singapore’s premier film school, the Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Department of Film, Sound & Video. He went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree in media from Murdoch University’s highly-reputable School of Media, Communication & Culture, in Perth, Australia.

Sanif’s first short film, Lost Sole (Love Trilogy 1), in 2005 was screened in over 30 international film festivals from Hawaii, San Francisco, New York, St Petersburg and Montreal to Teheran.

It was in competition in eight of these film festivals and won two in 2008 – for best film on religion at the International Festival of Short Films on Culture (Jaipur, India) and best narrative film at Rahmat International Shortfilm Festival (Tabriz, Iran).

His second short, A La Folie (Love Trilogy 2), which premiered at the 27th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival in March 2009, was voted best short film at the 4th Jogja-Netpac Asian Film Festival that year.

Sanif says his works generally portray the theme of love and caring. "This theme has always appealed to me. I always get puzzled when people say they love you and care for you, then the next minute, they disappoint you."

Thank you Bissme for the great article.

NOTE: This film is still incomplete and appeals for funds/donations to finish the remaining 35% of shoot.
The Sun (23 March 2010)

Friday, February 19, 2010

An evening of LOVE.

"Take away LOVE and the earth is a tomb."

It has been more than 5 years in the making and finally on 14 February 2010, LOVE happened.

Ameen was finally completed and with it, the LOVE trilogy concludes. Lost Sole, the first film, was filmed in late 2005 and premiered in early 2006. à la folie, a spontaneous filming process that happened "without a script, but a concept and gifted casts", was filmed in 2007 but was only released in mid-2008. Finally Ameen, from a script written in late 2008, was filmed in early 2009 and finally released in early 2010.

All three films have been self-funded. I reflect upon the success of these films with bittersweet victory. Curious that these films have been more successful overseas than in this island I sweated blood and tears for in National Service as the token Malay Commando.

Lost Sole | LOVE trilogy #1 from Sanif Olek on Vimeo.

à la folie "like crazy" | LOVE trilogy #2 from Sanif Olek on Vimeo.

AMEEN | LOVE trilogy #3 from Sanif Olek on Vimeo.

Those who attended, I love you all! I'm humbled by your support. The LOVE journey has just began and there will be many more LOVE discovery, I tell you :)

(My humblest appreciation to Teater Ekamatra for accomodating their Black Box for this screening.)

The evening was also special because it was the first time a selection of edited scenes from my upcoming film feature debut, Ramuan Rahasia|The Missing Ingredient, was screened to the public. A year had passed since the first phase of the shoot was filmed (February 2009). Just recently, Cathay Keris Films, from the Cathay Organisation, one of three main local cinema exhibitors/distributors, has pledged it will distribute the film feature, possibly the first Singapore-made, Malay-Singaporean film since the late 60s. Thank you Cathay.

This film stars the legendary Rahim Razali. I'm forever grateful to him for agreeing to be in this film. To those not familiar (...shame on you!) with the man, he's the Laurence Olivier or Anthony Hopkins of Southeast Asian Cinema. Gifted Singapore-based actors like Aidli 'Alin' Mosbit, Rafaat Hj Hamzah, Asnida Daud, Aaron Aziz, J A Halim and Keagan Kang complete the cast list.

However more work needs to be done. More money still need to be pulled in to complete the remaining phases of shoots in Singapore and Sydney, Australia. It's puzzling to know that with such an impressive regional casting, bittersweet story consisting all spicy ingredients that could raze the cinema screens (ie love, music and food), it's still hard to pull in the money in Singapore for this "historic" film.

And for those curious why a certain local govt-based film agency not participate in this exquisite concoction, yet - go seek their feedback directly. I don't wish to pepper this blog space with speculation on rigid bureaucrats.

No, blockbuster actors like Chow Yuen Fatt, Jacky Chan, Brat Pitt, Fann Wong nor Angelina Jolie cannot act in my film because they cannot speak nor sing in Malay nor Indonesian in believable local accents, yes?

I look forward to Ramuan Rahasia's film premiere - there'll be lots of personal and professional stories to tell. The self-discovery, friends who walked away and lost, professional sacrifices by acquaintances and the new friends made along the way... the journey is a tale in itself lah. But it's all good :)

Life is full of surprises and I take the challenge with a sweet hazelnut Magnum, yes the ice-cream!

Close to 65% of footages are already in the can. Just a few more $$$ and this film will be complete. Thus, no belakang pusing, majulah kehadapan! :D

To those who missed the LOVE affair, you may get glimpses of it from Gumbira, Neil and Zalinah.

Thank you soo much.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Makan Angin (new series)

Food/cultural travelogue with Najip Ali and Chef Wan. Premieres 3rd February 2010, 7.30pm on MediaCorp's Suria channel, Singapore.

8 x 1/2hour episodes. Cities covered are Kuching, Penang, Malacca, Langkawi, Cameron Highlands, Kota Kinabalu, Bandung, Jogjakarta. A Dua M production.

Directed by Sanif Olek (eps 1-6 of 8). Filmed and photographic stills by Helmindra J. A. Halim.

Enjoy :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

à la folie January screenings

YOu are invited to catch à la folie | LOVE trilogy #2 screenings in January at the following events,
Singapore Short Film Awards 2010, 28 January @ 9pm

SMU Film Festival 2010, 31 January @ 8pm

à la folie first screened (World Premiere) at the 27th San Francisco Int'l Asian American Film Festival in March 2009 and subsequently received Best Short Film award at the 4th Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival in August 2009. Thank you so much for your support.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

LOVE is in the air.


L'AMOUR est dans le ciel. Pouvez-vous le sentir ?