Monday, August 4, 2014

Lelaki Harapan Dunia

Today theSun carries an interview with Liew Seng Tat who talks about his film Lelaki Harapan Dunia that will premiere at 67th Festival del Film Locarno in Switzerland on Aug 11.  Read the full article here 

Suggested Headline A Moving Tribute 
By Bissme S 

Film maker  Liew Seng Tat’s second feature film, Lelaki Harapan Dunia (Men Who Save the World) has been given the honour to premiere at the 67th Festival del Film Locarno in Switzerland on Aug 11. This is one of the film industry’s prestigious festivals held annually in August in the city of Locarno since its founding in 1946, making it one of the oldest film festivals in the world, alongside those in Venice and Cannes.The festival, which runs from Aug 6 to 16 this year, has established itself as a launching pad for striving filmmakers around the world. Some of those well known filmmakers who first made their mark at this festival included Stanley  Kubrick, Mike Leigh, Chen Kaige, Edward Yang, Jim Jarmusch, Abbas Kiarostami and Gus Van Sant.
Lelaki Harapan Dunia will be competing in the Concorso Cineasti del Presente (Filmmakers of the Present) section that is dedicated to emerging directors around the world. Only 15 feature
films are selected each year for the competition.Liew’s film touches on an ancient Malay tradition called‘Angkat Rumah’. In the old days, whenever a villager wanted to shift or move house, it was common for his neighbours to come together and literally carry the entire house to the new location.
This practice has, over the years, slowly disappeared. Liew had toying with the idea of doing a  film on this since 2007. But he waited as he wanted to gain more experience, first through directing short films  and then, attempting his first feature film, Flower in the  Pocket.
That film won Liew a slew of awards and glowing reviews  at such international film festivals as Busan (South Korea), Rotterdam (The  Netherlands), Fribourg  (Switzerland) and Pesaro (Italy). 
Liew said he was inspired to  write the script for Lelaki Harapan Dunia after reading an article in the newspaper in 2007 which tells of a farmer who  decided to move closer to his sick mother-in-law in order to care for her. 
But the farmer was reluctant to move into a new house. So, he got 150 villagers to  help him carry his old house half a kilometre to his mother-in-law’s place. 
“The image of a group of people literally carrying a house together left a  lasting impression on me,” said Liew. 
“The spirit of unity where a group of people get together to help an individual was simply amazing. I wanted to document this spirit in a Malaysian film.”
This comedy drama revolves around Pak Awang who wants to give a house to his daughter as a wedding gift. Unable to afford a new house, he comes up with the  brilliant idea of restoring an abandoned old house he found in the jungle. The villagers agree to help him carry  the house from the jungle into the village. Unknown to them, an illegal immigrant  has been hiding in the house. When a villager mistakes the black  shadow he sees in the house as the infamous Orang Minyak, it causes undue panic besides creating several hilarious situations. The cast comprises Wan Hanafi Su, Soffi Jikan, Harun Salim Bachik, Jalil Hamid and Azhan Rani.Lelaki Harapan Dunia will likely screen  in Malaysian cinemas on Nov 27. 
Liew cited the shifting of the house from the jungle to the village as the most difficult scene to shoot. 
“If we had used a house made of cardboards, the scene would not have  looked real,” he said. 
“We had to build the house using aged wood – and moving the house  made from such material is not easy. Further more, the road from the  jungle to the village is not smooth or  level. There were many slopes and we even had to cross a stream! 
“But the men managed to carry the house without any incident. Luckily, I had a strong team of men comprising the producer to the crew and cast.” 
Currently, Liew is working on two scripts which both have comedic elements.The first one touches on a love story involving a ghost while the second  involves soldiers trapped in a jungle. Liew also confesses that his dream  project is to turn Lat’s comic books,Kampung Boy and Town Boy, into a series of films – and, definitely, not  animations. The filmmaker said: “I am a huge fan of Lat’s comics. I gave these books to all my tourist friends as souvenirs. “They are great representations of what Malaysia is all about. And I like to tell Malaysian stories in my films.”

Seng Tat during the interview at Plan B in Bangsar

A scene from the film
A scene from the film
One of the poster of the film

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