Got an email this morning confirming that Lelaki Komunis Terakhir will make its world premiere next month at the 56th Berlin Film Festival.
It will screen in the section known as International Forum of New Cinema, described as "the most daring section of the [festival] programme."
Berlin is of course one of the Big 3 film festivals in Europe, together with Cannes and Venice. What makes this selection special is that another Malaysian movie - Monday Morning Glory, directed by Woo Ming Jin - will also screen in the same section this year.
The only two other Malaysian movies to ever be presented here were the 16mm Iban-language feature Bejalai (in 1989, directed by Stephen Teoh) and Kaki Bakar (1996; directed by U-Wei Haji Saari).
How on earth do films get selected for festivals anyway? Well, it depends on the film and it depends on the festival.
In this case, I will have to thank the indefatigable Wong Tuck Cheong, president of Kelab Seni Filem Malaysia. He brought with him a colour leaflet promoting New Malaysian Cinema (the leaflet was sponsored by the Multimedia Development Corridor) to last year's Pusan Film Festival.
Among the synopses of Upcoming Movies, the one for Lelaki K0munis Terakhir must have caught the eye of the Forum programmer Christoph Terhechte. Just for the record, this was the synopsis:
A semi-musical documentary road movie about the life and legacy of the former leader of the banned Communist Party of Malaya, who now lives in exile in Thailand. Pre-production funding from The Jan Vrijman Fund of the International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam IDFA).
He emailed me in November asking for a preview tape, so I sent a rough-cut with incomplete subtitles, which was all we had at that point.
The invite to Berlin was received today.