This Merdeka, the country will be celebrating six decades of independence. This landmark day not only marks freedom from colonialisation, but also celebrates the freedom to think, act and govern ourselves in the way we see best.
While our nation has certainly gone far, local social platform Kelip-Kelip feels that society is still bound by barriers when it comes to certain issues, which many think are too sensitive or taboo to be discussed.
For its Merdeka Day celebrations, Kelip-Kelip will be screening Sepet and Redha, two acclaimed films which address some of these “barrier” issues.
Sepet (2005) is a love story between a Chinese boy and a Malay girl in Ipoh, Perak. It was directed by the late Yasmin Ahmad, and has won many accolades, including the Best Asian Film award at the 18th Tokyo International Film Festival.
Redha (2016), directed by Tunku Mona Riza, is the story of a couple’s challenging but rewarding journey in raising a child with autism. The film won the Special Jury Award at the World Premiere Film Festival 2016 in Manila, Philippines. It was also longlisted for the Best Foreign Film award at the 89th Academy Awards this year.
“While we are free from colonial powers, there are still ‘invisible walls’ that surround us (as Malaysians). For Redha, it’s autism. How open are we to talk about that topic, and to face it with an open heart?” says Chan Oga, Kelip-Kelip founder.
“And for Sepet, it’s about our Malaysian obsession with race. We still tick ‘race’ boxes on forms, applications and so on without really thinking about why we need it. We need to talk about why this exists, and do we still need it?”
First started in Penang in 2015, Kelip-Kelip is a talk and networking platform dedicated to making social change.
“While we appreciate creative works, often times the appreciation comes too late. Like for Yasmin Ahmad, she is no longer with us. She had six movies when she was alive, but most people only know Sepet and Gubra. Similarly, for Redha, Tunku Mona took out a bank loan to finance the film. But she only managed to recover one fourth of the loan,” says Oga.
“As Malaysians we need to think of how to overcome the barrier when it comes to supporting local creative efforts.”
Each screening will be followed by panel discussions, moderated by TV presenter Sheahnee Iman Lee.
The Redha panel will feature Feilina Feisol, the president of Nasom (National Autism Society of Malaysia) and discuss autism in Malaysia, while Sepet’s panel will discuss the obsession with race in Malaysia.
“I think this is a brilliant idea. And I’m not just saying this because I’m involved! Anything that promotes Malaysian film, and creates creative awareness, I think should be supported,” says Mona Riza.
“My hope is for people to watch Yasmin’s ads, movies and read her press ads and be inspired. I hope people are inspired to understand our differences, but recognise that in the end, we are all the same. We all want to be loved, to be treated equally, to be forgiven and to be heard,” says Datin Orked Ahmad, who is president of Persatuan Yasmin Ahmad and the sister of the late director.
The Merdeka Screening by Kelip-Kelip will be held at The Bee in Publika, Kuala Lumpur at 7.45pm on Aug 30 (Redha) and Aug 31 (Sepet). Tickets are RM35 per show or RM60 for both shows. Proceeds of the film will go towards the production of Redha and the Yasmin Ahmad Museum in Ipoh. For more information, and to buy tickets, visit merdekafilmscreening.eventbrite.com.