Friday, August 22, 2014

Sex therapy

Recently everyone's favourite comic/actor, Robin Williams, apparent suicide from depression has put mental health into the spotlight. Unfortunately, just like HIV, the stigma towards mental illness, i.e. schizophrenia, bipolar et al prevents many chronic sufferers from gaining proper health care. And this in turn causes unnecessary stress towards their respective caregivers. Mental disorders are real and affects everyone. 

Closer to home, many communities in Asia still view mental patients as "dirty linens" in the family and very often sweep these sufferers and issues under the rug to "save face". I feel strongly for this matter which led me to helping the non-profit ClubHEAL with their PSA videos sometime ago.

Another mental disorder that is not commonly discussed is sex addiction. I had the privilege to direct the first 2 episodes of the second season of the television series, BINGIT. Based on my research, on the contrary, sex addiction does not only affect men - women are effected too. Just like the other mental disorders, there is no obvious physical trait on a sex addict. 

Thus how do one identify a chronic sex addict? The general signs are when his/her addiction starts to cause cracks with the people close to him/her, i.e. the spouse or partner, the sexual habits begin to get deviant that it causes harm to the partner.

Here are the two episodes. They were telecast on 6 and 13 August respectively at 2200hrs. Rated PG13.

BINGIT S2 01/02 from Sanif Olek on Vimeo.
Bingit season 2 episode 01/02

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

An invitation

"Majlis Bahasa Melayu Singapura mengundang... Encik Sanif untuk membentangkan kertas kerja mewakili Singapura dalam Sidang Antarabangsa Kesusasteraan Asia Tenggara (SAKAT) sempena Sidang MASTERA ke-20 di Brunei Darussalam..."
I still remember some time ago when I began television (late 90s), I was tasked to produce a documentary about Cikgu Muhammad Ariff Ahmad. Perhaps this might not sound like a big deal to many folks but many colleagues then were genuinely concerned. Well, you see, my command of the spoken Malay language was - to put it kindly, rather substandard (and it still is in some ways). That would have meant I will be communicating 'full-frontal' with the Sasterawan aka *The Esteemed National Literary Figure* himself on an almost daily basis while I researched about his life. They were concerned about how I would be communicating with him. It was a challenge for me but Cikgu Ariff (good-humouredly) was kind enough to let me go on and converse/direct him in English (and yes, a smattering of Malay when I can). 

To cut the long story short, I went on to produce 2 half-hour episodes of Cikgu’s life and continued to produce another 2 half-hour episodes of another esteemed Sasterawan, the late Cikgu Masuri SN.

During the many conversations I had with Cikgu Ariff, he once casually chipped in that I still remember to this day. He said, “…biar bualnya kurang, asal jangan hilang jiwa dan bahasanya”.

I had just completed my first feature film, Sayang Disayang, about the Nusantara. So there! Another day, another adventure, baby!

Kalau bukan kita siapa lagi, kan..?

And yes, I humbly accepted the invitation. Wish me luck!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Singapore NDP2014 screening season

15 August.

And that wraps the screening of my feature film SAYANG DISAYANG that opened in Singaporeon the eve of its 49th birthday and continued to screen over the National Day period, ie 8-15 August. It was a tremendous experience meeting my attendees at every screening. Thank you so much for your presence and generous feedback. This debut feature filmmaking journey wouldn't have been possible without the gifted cast, dedicated crew and kind friends who kept reminding me why I made SAYANG DISAYANG in the first place. And importantly, You - the audience for your time and support for Singapore-made films. The only way to nurture the growth in homegrown arts is to actually buy that ticket and attend the respective showcase. 

I am privileged to have the opportunity to express the Singapore voice with Cinema. Its reach is universal and the experience is tremendous when I'm able to move another with the human condition. I set out to make a universal story about the Nusantara, of which Singapore is located at its heart. 

I am overwhelmed that SAYANG DISAYANG has attracted a mix of nationalities/ethnicities/demographic at every screening. Many in attendance may not know that the film was filmed in 2009, but was only completed in October 2013. Yet the issues and story are not out of place in August 2014. The film is independently-funded and possibly the 1st Singapore-made film in the Malay language in about 50 years. The spirit of its 6-year filmmaking process truly reflects our resilience as Singaporeans.

I look forward to share this journey again (both in Singapore and overseas). 

For details and updates on SAYANG DISAYANG, please visit the film's FB page regularly. #sayangMovie