Thursday, January 22, 2009
We didn't want to complicate things by opening it to the public. Handling cash is dicey. So we decided to keep it simple by inviting a select group of corporations to donate and attend the very first theatrical screening of our new film "Talentime".
It's a 320-seater cinema hall, but we didn't really care if only 7 people turned up, as long as they brought cheques with them. The corporations we invited were given no "minimum amount" instructions, and were told they could send up to 30 or 40 people.
Response has been good, alhamdulillah.
We saw the print yesterday at a local colour lab studio and it looked beautiful, thank God. Jaclyn Victor's performance was particularly outstanding on big screen. That girl can go far, inshaallah.
My producer and I will most likely be sitting at the back of the hall, anxiously watching the audience reactions throughout our 1 hour 57 minute film.
The seats are almost fully taken, with some room to spare for our main cast. Jac, Mahesh, Kahoe, Pamela, Elza, Kak Azean, and Ida Nerina might come. Mohd Syafie, unfortunately, is in Sarawak at a shoot.
May Allah guide us in making things run smoothly tonight. Ameen, ya rabbal aalameen.
(ps: "Talentime" is scheduled for general theatrical release on March 26th, 2009. "Muallaf" will be back, by popular demand, in Singapore, from February 26th.)
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
"Muallaf" is at Lembaga Penapisan Filem. Apparently, the verdict will be announced tomorrow.
Fendi Harjoh, the producer for "Talentime", delivered the print to them and asked that it be given at least a temporary stamp of approval, if not a full one.
He also asked that they got onto it immediately as each single day of delay would mean a delay in the delivery of much needed medicine and medical equipment to Gaza.
Inshaallah, the private corporate screening of "Muallaf" will be held next week, at Cineleisure, The Curve.
Please pray that it'll happen sooner rather than later.
In the meantime, we had a photo shoot of our main actors yesterday at Studio DL. Faiz Akbar is designing the poster, and David Lok is the photographer.
The picture above is NOT the "Talentime" poster. It was just something we were trying out.
Aren't my babies beautiful?
Sunday, January 11, 2009
An important article about the lies the Western and Israeli media tells about Gaza, written by an Israeli journalist.
NEARLY SEVENTY YEARS ago, in the course of World War II, a heinous crime was committed in the city of Leningrad. For more than a thousand days, a gang of extremists called "the Red Army" held the millions of the town's inhabitants hostage and provoked retaliation from the German Wehrmacht from inside the population centers. The Germans had no alternative but to bomb and shell the population and to impose a total blockade, which caused the death of hundreds of thousands.
Some time before that, a similar crime was committed in England. The Churchill gang hid among the population of London, misusing the millions of citizens as a human shield. The Germans were compelled to send their Luftwaffe and reluctantly reduce the city to ruins. They called it the Blitz.
This is the description that would now appear in the history books – if the Germans had won the war.
Absurd? No more than the daily descriptions in our media, which are being repeated ad nauseam: the Hamas terrorists use the inhabitants of Gaza as "hostages" and exploit the women and children as "human shields", they leave us no alternative but to carry out massive bombardments, in which, to our deep sorrow, thousands of women, children and unarmed men are killed and injured.
IN THIS WAR, as in any modern war, propaganda plays a major role. The disparity between the forces, between the Israeli army - with its airplanes, gunships, drones, warships, artillery and tanks - and the few thousand lightly armed Hamas fighters, is one to a thousand, perhaps one to a million. In the political arena the gap between them is even wider. But in the propaganda war, the gap is almost infinite.
Almost all the Western media initially repeated the official Israeli propaganda line. They almost entirely ignored the Palestinian side of the story, not to mention the daily demonstrations of the Israeli peace camp. The rationale of the Israeli government ("The state must defend its citizens against the Qassam rockets") has been accepted as the whole truth. The view from the other side, that the Qassams are a retaliation for the siege that starves the one and a half million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, was not mentioned at all.
Only when the horrible scenes from Gaza started to appear on Western TV screens, did world public opinion gradually begin to change.
True, Western and Israeli TV channels showed only a tiny fraction of the dreadful events that appear 24 hours every day on Aljazeera's Arabic channel, but one picture of a dead baby in the arms of its terrified father is more powerful than a thousand elegantly constructed sentences from the Israeli army spokesman. And that is what is decisive, in the end.
War – every war – is the realm of lies. Whether called propaganda or psychological warfare, everybody accepts that it is right to lie for one's country. Anyone who speaks the truth runs the risk of being branded a traitor.
The trouble is that propaganda is most convincing for the propagandist himself. And after you convince yourself that a lie is the truth and falsification reality, you can no longer make rational decisions.
An example of this process surrounds the most shocking atrocity of this war so far: the shelling of the UN Fakhura school in Jabaliya refugee camp.
Immediately after the incident became known throughout the world, the army "revealed" that Hamas fighters had been firing mortars from near the school entrance. As proof they released an aerial photo which indeed showed the school and the mortar. But within a short time the official army liar had to admit that the photo was more than a year old. In brief: a falsification.
Later the official liar claimed that "our soldiers were shot at from inside the school". Barely a day passed before the army had to admit to UN personnel that that was a lie, too. Nobody had shot from inside the school, no Hamas fighters were inside the school, which was full of terrified refugees.
But the admission made hardly any difference anymore. By that time, the Israeli public was completely convinced that "they shot from inside the school", and TV announcers stated this as a simple fact.
So it went with the other atrocities. Every baby metamorphosed, in the act of dying, into a Hamas terrorist. Every bombed mosque instantly became a Hamas base, every apartment building an arms cache, every school a terror command post, every civilian government building a "symbol of Hamas rule". Thus the Israeli army retained its purity as the "most moral army in the world".
THE TRUTH is that the atrocities are a direct result of the war plan. This reflects the personality of Ehud Barak – a man whose way of thinking and actions are clear evidence of what is called "moral insanity", a sociopathic disorder.
The real aim (apart from gaining seats in the coming elections) is to terminate the rule of Hamas in the Gaza Strip. In the imagination of the planners, Hamas is an invader which has gained control of a foreign country. The reality is, of course, entirely different.
The Hamas movement won the majority of the votes in the eminently democratic elections that took place in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. It won because the Palestinians had come to the conclusion that Fatah's peaceful approach had gained precisely nothing from Israel - neither a freeze of the settlements, nor release of the prisoners, nor any significant steps toward ending the occupation and creating the Palestinian state. Hamas is deeply rooted in the population – not only as a resistance movement fighting the foreign occupier, like the Irgun and the Stern Group in the past – but also as a political and religious body that provides social, educational and medical services.
From the point of view of the population, the Hamas fighters are not a foreign body, but the sons of every family in the Strip and the other Palestinian regions. They do not "hide behind the population", the population views them as their only defenders.
Therefore, the whole operation is based on erroneous assumptions. Turning life into living hell does not cause the population to rise up against Hamas, but on the contrary, it unites behind Hamas and reinforces its determination not to surrender. The population of Leningrad did not rise up against Stalin, any more than the Londoners rose up against Churchill.
He who gives the order for such a war with such methods in a densely populated area knows that it will cause dreadful slaughter of civilians. Apparently that did not touch him. Or he believed that "they will change their ways" and "it will sear their consciousness", so that in future they will not dare to resist Israel.
A top priority for the planners was the need to minimize casualties among the soldiers, knowing that the mood of a large part of the pro-war public would change if reports of such casualties came in. That is what happened in Lebanon Wars I and II.
This consideration played an especially important role because the entire war is a part of the election campaign. Ehud Barak, who gained in the polls in the first days of the war, knew that his ratings would collapse if pictures of dead soldiers filled the TV screens.
Therefore, a new doctrine was applied: to avoid losses among our soldiers by the total destruction of everything in their path. The planners were not only ready to kill 80 Palestinians to save one Israeli soldier, as has happened, but also 800. The avoidance of casualties on our side is the overriding commandment, which is causing record numbers of civilian casualties on the other side.
That means the conscious choice of an especially cruel kind of warfare – and that has been its Achilles heel.
A person without imagination, like Barak (his election slogan: "Not a Nice Guy, but a Leader") cannot imagine how decent people around the world react to actions like the killing of whole extended families, the destruction of houses over the heads of their inhabitants, the rows of boys and girls in white shrouds ready for burial, the reports about people bleeding to death over days because ambulances are not allowed to reach them, the killing of doctors and medics on their way to save lives, the killing of UN drivers bringing in food. The pictures of the hospitals, with the dead, the dying and the injured lying together on the floor for lack of space, have shocked the world. No argument has any force next to an image of a wounded little girl lying on the floor, twisting with pain and crying out: "Mama! Mama!"
The planners thought that they could stop the world from seeing these images by forcibly preventing press coverage. The Israeli journalists, to their shame, agreed to be satisfied with the reports and photos provided by the Army Spokesman, as if they were authentic news, while they themselves remained miles away from the events. Foreign journalists were not allowed in either, until they protested and were taken for quick tours in selected and supervised groups. But in a modern war, such a sterile manufactured view cannot completely exclude all others – the cameras are inside the strip, in the middle of the hell, and cannot be controlled. Aljazeera broadcasts the pictures around the clock and reaches every home.
THE BATTLE for the TV screen is one of the decisive battles of the war. Hundreds of millions of Arabs from Mauritania to Iraq, more than a billion Muslims from Nigeria to Indonesia see the pictures and are horrified. This has a strong impact on the war. Many of the viewers see the rulers of Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority as collaborators with Israel in carrying out these atrocities against their Palestinian brothers.
The security services of the Arab regimes are registering a dangerous ferment among the peoples. Hosny Mubarak, the most exposed Arab leader because of his closing of the Rafah crossing in the face of terrified refugees, started to pressure the decision-makers in Washington, who until that time had blocked all calls for a cease-fire. These began to understand the menace to vital American interests in the Arab world and suddenly changed their attitude – causing consternation among the complacent Israeli diplomats.
People with moral insanity cannot really understand the motives of normal people and must guess their reactions. "How many divisions has the Pope?" Stalin sneered. "How many divisions have people of conscience?" Ehud Barak may well be asking.
As it turns out, they do have some. Not numerous. Not very quick to react. Not very strong and organized. But at a certain moment, when the atrocities overflow and masses of protesters come together, that can decide a war.
THE FAILURE to grasp the nature of Hamas has caused a failure to grasp the predictable results. Not only is Israel unable to win the war, Hamas cannot lose it.
Even if the Israeli army were to succeed in killing every Hamas fighter to the last man, even then Hamas would win. The Hamas fighters would be seen as the paragons of the Arab nation, the heroes of the Palestinian people, models for emulation by every youngster in the Arab world. The West Bank would fall into the hands of Hamas like a ripe fruit, Fatah would drown in a sea of contempt, the Arab regimes would be threatened with collapse.
If the war ends with Hamas still standing, bloodied but unvanquished, in the face of the mighty Israeli military machine, it will look like a fantastic victory, a victory of mind over matter.
What will be seared into the consciousness of the world will be the image of Israel as a blood-stained monster, ready at any moment to commit war crimes and not prepared to abide by any moral restraints. This will have severe consequences for our long-term future, our standing in the world, our chance of achieving peace and quiet.
In the end, this war is a crime against ourselves too, a crime against the State of Israel.
(Uri Avnery is an Israeli journalist, peace activist, former member of the Knesset, and leader of Gush Shalom. He is a regular contributor to Media Monitors Network (MMN).)
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
At around 5:50am this morning of January the 8th, 2009, I sent a message to Dr Jemilah:
"Salaam, my love. Hope all's well with you. We're in the midst of organising a charity screening of 'Muallaf' to garner corporate donations for Mercy. Doa for us, ok?"
Her response came in less than a minute:
"Alhamdulillah. I am fine. Spent some time with Palestinian kids transferred to Cairo for treatment. They were crying and wanting to go home! They don't realise their homes have been blown apart. So very sad. Getting the second consignment ready to go again. Take care. Salaam to all and thank everyone for their generosity and doas."
So far, AirAsia, the New Straits Times, TV3, Alliance Cosmetics (Silky Girl), AddAudio and McCann-Ericson have said YES to block-booking seats for the screening. I thank them for their generosity. Heads of corporations reading this are welcome to do the same.
We should be sending the "Muallaf" print to Lembaga Penapisan Filem next week, inshaallah. We are asking them not to make any cuts.
According to a recent report, about a third of those killed in Gaza have been children. Those children are now safe with Allah. Let's try and help the ones left behind wounded and homeless.
Monday, January 5, 2009
Apart from the brief feature of Dr Jemilah in the video above, I also received another sms from her, after I told her that I was to be phone-interviewed, live, on Astro last night.
"Allahu Akbar (God is great). Please thank Malaysians for their support. After I wrote to you, the bombs stopped. I am now crossing into the border. Doa for me. Love u."
I sms'd Dr Jem, enquiring about her current state of affairs, and got this reply:
"Alhamdulillah (Praise the Lord). Nothing short of a miracle and Allah's love and mercy for us. We managed to transfer 50 tons of supplies. Many people waited for days, but we sailed through. Alhamdulillah. How was your TV thing? To be honest, it's been very slow on the fund-raising side from HQ."
Understandably, many of you out there are young and don't yet have a steady income. And you probably feel helpless about it all. Don't worry. You can do what a group of us did when we were studying in England: collect small amounts from as many people as possible, then ask someone with a bank account to make out a cheque. As Dr Jemilah often says, "No amount is too small, and will be gratefully received."
And who knows, the 10 ringgit that you gather may seem small, but by God's will, it could translate into some suture (medical sewing) which would stop a child from bleeding to death.
( Please make cheques payable to MERCY MALAYSIA. CIMB account number: 1424-000-6561053. For more information, please contact 03-2273 3999. )
Sunday, January 4, 2009
IMPORTANT! Please watch these, or go straight to the end of the posting to find out how you can help.
Chomsky, Solomom, Ackerman, and many others. Even the Jews are speaking out against the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
For God's sake, and for the sake of thousands of broken children, please post these videos on your blogs and pass them around.
( I just received an sms from Dr Jemilah of Mercy Malaysia. It went like this: "Salaam, Min. As I write this, in the last 15 minutes more than 20 bombs have fallen on Gaza, within the distance I can hear them. We are about 2 km from Palestine, and it is a case of so near and yet so far. Our five trucks are loaded with USD100,000 worth of valuable medicine, surgical sets, and disposable items, including syringes, intravenous infusions and bandages. We will wait till the bombings stop, and once the gate opens, we will try to push the goods through. While the Egyptian border has thankfully allowed aid to go through, the challenge is to wait for trucks from the Palestine side to come and collect the goods. For the past day, they have not been able to collect even life saving goods as Israel continues with land and air assaults. We will try our best and stay till we can assure our aid goes through. Many people have been kind to us here and we ask for your continued support and prayers." )
Once again, I urge you to contact Mercy Malaysia at 03-2273 3999, or email to email@example.com and find out how best you can help raise funds for medical aid that can help save the lives of wounded children in Gaza.