Monday, August 28, 2006

First look at Apa Khabar Orang Kampung

It was a 10-day shoot: 16-25 August. The location was a village in Sukhrin, Narathiwat, South Thailand, home of retired members of the 10th Regiment, the only Malay-Muslim division of the Communist Party of Malaya.

140 families live there now. Fewer than 20 people were those born in Malaya before the regiment began its 'Long March' across the Thai border in the early 1950s. They would not see Malaya/Malaysia again for five decades. We spoke to all of these pioneers who happened to be there, and a few more besides.

Apa Khabar Orang Kampung will look and sound very different from Lelaki Komunis Terakhir. For reasons that will, I hope, be obvious when I explain later, the English title is not a direct translation but rather Village Radio.

Over 3,000 stills were taken by the intrepid Danny Lim. This is a sample. We heard many stories there; these pictures indicate some of them. As for the complete picture, this will only emerge when we start editing in a few days.

Not to be outdone, our Director of Photography Albert Hue, who also took hundreds of stills, has blogged them here. Now let's see which pompous blowhard dares criticise his 'cinematography'!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Off to shoot the sequel

Right after we finished shooting Lelaki Komunis Terakhir almost a year ago, I knew that that I wanted to make a separate documentary covering something that I didn't get to cover the first time around: Local communists who also happened to be Malay and Muslim.

Tomorrow, Tuesday 15 Aug, we will set off for South Thailand to begin shooting this next documentary. I will be reunited with some of the same people from the first project and also some new folks.

Executive Producer: James Lee
Producer: Tan Chui Mui
Writer/Director: Amir Muhammad
Camera: Albert Hue
Assistant Director: Liew Seng Tat
Sound: Hardesh Singh
Still Photography: Danny Lim
Editor: Akashdeep Singh

Some further details:

Budget: RM60,000
Estimated duration: 72 minutes

After a fierce bidding war, the production company that is handling it will be Da Huang Pictures. Financially, it would not have been possible if the LKT T-shirt and DVD had not sold well, so thanks for buying!

We are set to return on 26 August. During the shoot days I will not be able to check email or even receive phone-calls, so if you don't hear back from me, don't panic! If you are the reading kind, you can catch up on recent books that cover some of the same ground, including Islam Melayu Komunis and the very readable Gerakan Kiri Melayu dalam Perjuangan Kemerdekaan.

If all goes well and if God wills it, it will be ready by year's end. I hope to screen it commercially in early 2007.

Oh yeah: The title is Apa Khabar Orang Kampung. There is no English title yet, but I doubt it will be a literal translation.

See you at the end of the month with pictures and reports from the shoot.