Saturday, July 11, 2009

Why I'm delighted Tokyo wants Talentime.


Four years ago, when Sepet came under fire from Berita Harian, RTM, and even the then Minister of Culture, it was given the Best Asian Film award at the 18th Tokyo International Film Festival.

Then just last year, the 21st TIFF gave Muallaf a Special Mention in the Asian-Middle Eastern section, while here at home, it was facing a possible ban.

Is it any wonder, then, that when they wrote and asked us for Talentime, I was both touched and thrilled?

You may find this hard to believe, but I never ever think about festivals or awards while I'm writing a script or making a film. But given the flak I get back home sometimes, you cannot blame me for feeling at least a little vindicated when foreign festivals like Tokyo seek my permission to celebrate our films.

Allah is indeed great.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

What do you call a comedian who never swore, and never made fun of anyone other than himself?

I would call him "a genius", and he would be Tommy Cooper, my favourite comedian of all time.

Right from the moment I first saw him play out a sketch, I believed that if I, as a scriptwriter and a filmmaker were to observe him closely, I might learn something to help me with my craft.

If you're reading this, and you fancy taking up scriptwriting and/or filmmaking one day, try this simple test:

What do you reckon was the biggest lesson in filmmaking I learnt, just by observing the late great Tommy Cooper?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Food for farmers, fit for kings.


It's Vietnamese hot noodle broth with beef or chicken, and it's called the "pho".

No, it's not pronounced "po", or "fo", or even "fur", and it's impossible to learn how to say it, without someone sitting in front of you to instruct the intonations and inflexions. (Yes, there are more than one intonation/inflexion just in that one brief word!)

It's soup is made with home-made beef or chicken stock. No fat or oil is added to that already drawn from the meats.

Herbs and spices include basil leaves, cardamom, cinnamon, fennel seeds, ginger, lemongrass, nutmeg, sawgrass, scallions, shallots, sriracha and star anise.

The noodles or koay teow are immersed shortly before serving the broth, so as to retain the firmness of texture.

Fresh bean sprouts, chilli padi, lime, and fish sauce are served on the side.

Pho is, by any reckoning, humble food.

If you're in Saigon, try it at a small halal restaurant with the inappropriately grand name of "Four Seasons". I did, yesterday.

And it... was... DIVINE!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Off to Saigon for four days!


We're looking at actors and locations. There'll be auditions and lots of looking around for suitable places to shoot.

Wish us luck. I'll be back on Friday, inshaallah. Then it's Taipei on Saturday.