Saturday, July 25, 2009

I am still writing a piece but which I have to hold back for a while as this takes precedent. So if that thing is punlish you will read it below this story. For now what i have to report is the death of Yasmin Ahmad. I do not know her but she writes and direct good stories. Her movie tend to be static but her stories were always compelling. She is not well like by the establishment fraternity which she belongs as a film maker, they regard her work as rubbish. These were her critics some of them were my friends. Mike the Director General of FINAS presently has always look down on her work. After all her work is not very Malay but more embracing, more Malaysian it didn't go down well with the Malays. I keep my thoughts to myself because I was not a film producer like Mike nor a film critic but her films appeals to me. Sure we can rant that her film techniques are inadequate her cinematography are third class but most people forget that people went to the cinema to see a story and she told a good story.

Sure she shows scene which is very un-Malay like although what is wrong when an elderly couple in a sarong bath together at the well or a Malay girl meeting her boyfriend who is Chinese at a Chinese restaurant where you can see the meat hanging on a skewer or an Iman patting a dog's head! What is wrong with that. It might not resonate with the Malay purist but to me it tell a story of Malaysians and what can happen. That is why I love her movies. Sure i know she loves chinese just like Dina and she married one so what? She is a compelling story teller. In Mukhsin she tells the story of teenage love, why do the Malays get angry? Yes Malays like other races do fall in love and do have crushes why do we deny it?

She might not be good in film editing like Suhaimi Baba but she tells a story from the heart and for that I admire her. By the way I also like Khabir Bakhtiar whom by the way is Indian from India but boy he made good mlay movies and perhaps soon a Malaysian movie. In the meantime alfatihah to Yasmin and may she is among those who yang soleh!

Yasmin shone with her works

KUALA LUMPUR, July 26 – Yasmin Ahmad left a legacy of her works in the film and advertisement arenas, thriving on the themes of love, family ties and comedy against the backdrop of multiracial Malaysia.

Born in Bukit Treh, Muar, Johor on July 1 1958, Yasmin, who graduated in psychology from Newcastle University, United Kingdom, had won local and international creativity awards.

She began her career as a copywriter with Ogilvy & Mather before joining Leo Burnnett as joint creative director in 1993 and rose to become its creative executive director until her death.

She was married to Abdullah Tan Yew Leong.

Her creativity could be seen in many Petronas’ commercials and evoked emotion of the viewers, especially during the Aidilfitri celebration which would certainly be missed by viewers this year.

In the film industry, Yasmin, however, drew much controversy in view of her openness and boldness in analysing social issues.

She has been targeted by critics since her first movie, “Rabun” was screened in 2003 followed by “Sepet” (2004), “Gubra” (2006), “Mukhsin” (2006), “Muallaf” (2008) and Talentime (2009).

But she also earned rave reviews for “Sepet” which won the Best Film Award and the Best Original Screenplay Award at the Malaysian Film Festival 2005. “Sepet” also bagged several international awards, namely the Asian Film Award at the Tokyo International Film Festival 2005, the Grand Prix Award at the Creteil International Women’s Film Festival in the same year.

“Gubra” won the Best Screenplay award at the Malaysian Film Festival 2006.

“Muhsin” won the Generation kplus – Best Feature Film and the Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk Grand Prix award at the Berlin International Film Festival. “Mukhsin” also won the Best Asean Film at the Cinemanila International Film Festival 2007.

“Muallaf” won the Asian Film Award – Special Mention at the Tokyo International Film Festival 2008.

While leaving indelible marks at home, Yasmin’s movies gained international recognition as they were shown in Berlin, San Francisco, Singapore and at the Cannes Film Festival. – Bernama

Rest in Peace, Yasmin Ahmad – Khalisah Stevens

JULY 26 – The first Yasmin Ahmad movie I watched was “Mukhsin,” curled up on my couch with my friends in the Middle East.

Seeing the old Malaysian school buildings and the green padi field scenery made me homesick for the comfort of yellow glutinous rice and chicken curry, the smell of earth right before it rains, and the bustle of cousins and grandparents all around me.

Yasmin Ahmad pierced right through the new life I surrounded myself with abroad, away from the warmth and humidity of Malaysia.

One of the first things I did when I returned to Kuala Lumpur this summer was watch another movie by Yasmin Ahmad. “Sepet” had me all choked up and contemplating the ethnic divides and unity of Malaysians.

With a Chinese grandmother and a Malay grandfather, I was partly sepet myself, and wholly besotted with Yasmin Ahmad’s directing and heart–wrenching thematic story lines.

It became a new obsession with me, finding all her movies and exploring the themes she addresses in them.

“Gubra” was a more mature and darker movie with a closer look at relationships.

Still capturing the essence of what made “Mukhsin” and “Sepet” great hits, “Gubra” took the complexities of marriage and human emotions and weaved them into a masterpiece that tightens the heart for the people around you.

By then, I was asking my friends and family to keep a look out for anything Yasmin Ahmad, be it movies, commercials, or even a radio jingle.

Soon, she became the topic of any discussion I had, and before long people were suggesting me more movies, videos, and even Youtube clips.

I think it was one of those moments where life imitates art when I heard about her stroke. I reacted to the news of her stroke the way Sharifah Amani reacted to the news of her father having a heart–attack in the movie “Gubra.”

I was panicked and worried. I followed the news of her stroke avidly, hoping that she would make it. I felt like I had just found her, it’s completely unfair that we should lose her when there are so many movies left to do, so many issues left to address.

“KUALA LUMPUR, July 25 (Bernama) –– Renowned film and advertising director Yasmin Ahmad died here at about 11.25 pm Saturday night.”

The words resounded in my head. Just like that, she slipped away.

For the next week the papers will be splashing her smiling image on their front pages, and the politicians whose policies she poked fun at will express their deepest condolences for losing one of Malaysia’s top film directors.

I feel like her death is resonant of the somber tone of her movies, quite poetic in its anticlimax.

There was no rain or lightening on Saturday night near the Damansara Specialists Hospital. She passed away quietly. They fold the hospital sheets in “Gubra.” Orkid climbs into her father’s car to the airport. The leaves rustle in Mukhsin’s dream.

Rest in peace, Yasmin Ahmad. You took the heart of what makes Malaysia unique and gave it back to the world through your talented film directing and your unabashed way of tackling social issues.

You blazed the way for Malaysian filmmaking and left some big shoes to fill for the next generation of Malaysian filmmakers.

I think that I can speak for all the fans when I say that we will miss you dearly.

* Khalisah Stevens is a student of International Studies at the American University. of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

Yasmin Ahmad dies

The hearse bearing Yasmin Ahamd’s remains leaving the Abu Bakar As-Siddiq mosque at SS19/&7A, Subang Jaya, for the final journey to the USJ Muslim Cemetery. – Picture by Jack Ooi

KUALA LUMPUR, July 26 —Renowned film and advertising director Yasmin Ahmad died here at about 11.25 pm last night.

Her death was confirmed by Media Prime Group Chief Operations Officer Datuk Seri Ahmad Farid Ridzuan, who was at the Damansara Specialist Hospital, when contacted by Bernama.

Yasmin, 51, collapsed while presenting a working paper at Sri Pentas, the headquarters of the private television station TV3 on Thursday and was rushed to the Damnsara Specialists Hospital.

She was reported to have suffered a stroke and brain haemorrhage - Bernama

Hope for today, dream for tomorrow – Shazwan Mustafa Kamal

JULY 26 - Facebook wall updates; with hushed voices and a sombre tone. Within minutes, everyone was aware of what had happened.

Yasmin Ahmad, considered by many as one of Malaysia’s brightest stars, passed away at around 11.25pm last night.

The atmosphere not only in the realm of cyberspace, but the rest of Malaysia as of right now is a sad one. Words fail to sum up how so many of us are affected by the late Yasmin Ahmad’s death.

Although we did not know her personally, we felt the connection through her works, her movies as well as her advertisements.

We all went to cinema in droves to watch Sepet, Gubra and Talentime. Many of us left the theatre afterwards with that feeling “hey, I just watched a really GOOD movie.” I know I did.

All of us live in real times, where fate is not always kind or patient.

People come and go everyday, and in times like these, when someone as influential as Yasmin leaves us I can’t help but feel that yet another void has filled up our lives. And that is precisely what is so special and important about her legacy.

She affected a lot of us through her works, because her stories were stripped down, real and relatable at every level of our society.

I remember watching Sepet and falling in love with its simple yet moving plot of the POSSIBILITIES of racial harmony and understanding, through the effective imagery of love between a boy and a girl.

We as a society that respects and admires creative expression of all sorts will mourn for a great loss.

I for one choose to honour and remember Yasmin for all that she represented - hope and understanding. For her stories are our stories too, of you and me. We all live in the same world as Yasmin’s characters.

Her vision was very much alive, real and it is possible to achieve that, if we just work at it. It may take days, months or even years, but we’ll get there. Hopefully.

Al-Fatihah Yasmin Ahmad. May you rest in peace.

Filmmaker Yasmin Ahmad critical but stable after surgery


Yasmin being prepared for emergency surgery. - Bernama pic

PETALING JAYA, July 23 – Filmmaker Yasmin Ahmad is in critical but stable condition after underging emergency surgery at Damansara Specialist Hospital here following a stroke.

She collapsed earlier this afternoon while presenting a working paper at Sri Pentas, the headquarters of the TV3 television station.

The news spread fast through Internet social networks Facebook and twitter, which buzzed with chatter about the critically acclaimed director, first with rumours that she had died but later updates that she is alive but unconscious and in the ICU at the Damansara private specialist hospital.

Bernama quoted her brother-in-law, Datuk Dr Zakaria Zahari, as saying that Yasmin had suffered a stroke and haemorrhaging in the brain.

“Her heart is being supported by drugs to control blood pressure ... the next few hours are extremely important but she is now stable even though she is still unconscious,” he said.

The hospital has yet to issue a statement on her condition.

Datuk Siti Nurhaliza and her husband Datuk Khalid Mohamad Jiwa, who were also present when Yasmin was presenting the paper, said Yasmin complained of not feeling well 15 minutes into her presentation.

“She had started the presentation at 3pm and when she did not feel so good, she sat down and placed her head on a table. A few seconds later, we tried to wake her when we found she was having difficulty breathing,” he told reporters when met at the hospital.

After Yasmin was laid down in a supine position, Siti said, a TV3 employee got hold of a panel doctor to attend to her.

She said Yasmin was then rushed to the hospital at 3.45pm.

Tan Kean Ang, a friend and managing director of the Leo Burnett advertising agency, said Yasmin had been fine in the morning and had exchanged jokes with staff at the office.

“I was surprised when this happened,” he told Bernama, adding that he was in discussions with Yasmin on several projects, which also involved Siti and her husband.

Yasmin, 51, is best known for her film “Sepet” as well as the festive messages sponsored by national oil company Petronas, all of which celebrate Malaysia’s racial diversity and harmony.

Yasmin’s road to success began with her work as an advertising copywriter at Ogilvy & Mather. Over time, she advanced to become creative director with Leo Burnett Kuala Lumpur.

Fame followed when she took up filmmaking, with her movies having won widespread acclaim, including many international awards, and her works have been shown at prestigious film festivals in Cannes, San Francisco, Berlin and Singapore.

Yasmin was inducted into the Malaysian Advertising Hall of Fame by the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents Malaysia last November.


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