What is Authenticity in an age when making films is about meeting national KPIs & maximizing returns? Is one Singapore story less important because it doesn’t qualify into a prestigious film festival or doesn’t get made at all?
I was asked similar questions during PENDEKAR post-screening attended by about 100 very enthusiastic film audience. It was overwhelming because PENDEKAR was my Singaporean-Malay-Bawean ode to Nusantara, the broad Malay Archipelago in Southeast Asia. It was also overwhelming to discuss authenticity because where I come from, Malay is the national language, English is the national language of communication & Singapore-Malays make up 13.5% of her residents.
Each of my films reflect my evolution in social awareness as a Singaporean filmmaker. It’s mostly about deconstructing my identity and the mainstream Malay texts.
PENDEKAR is an agency to discover myself in relation to my fellow Singaporeans - both Malays & non-Malays. Most importantly, how this Malay sees himself in relation to ‘rakan serumpun’ in Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei where Malay dominates the respective national identity.
Am I less a Malay because I don’t speak much of the language or don’t subscribe to the accepted Malay norms? Is there an absolute Malay or Malayness - even in a Malay dominant country?
I deliberately spoke Melayu during the session to respect the film festival. It’s a privilege to be in Jambi - literally the heart of Nusantara Malay Archipelago. It’s an opportunity to discover how much of a Malay I am. I actually threw a question to the audience to ask how “Malay” is PENDEKAR with regard to its visual cues and mise-en-scene 😅
Terimakasih kepada semua komunitas sineas yang hadir, harap senang dengar aku bicara tentang PENDEKAR dalam bahasa filem yang tidak pernah aku lakukan sebelum ini 🙏🏽