After Yasmin Ahmad had successfully created meaningful festive short films and advertisements that touched all the Malaysians’ hearts years ago, many directors seem to be approaching the same direction, hoping to bring in the same sentiment and hype.
“Challenges and adversity are certain in life but cherish the moments and always look ahead towards a better tomorrow. Follow Yassin as he learns to be grateful for life’s trials, for it is through them that we should reflect on our existence this Aidilfitri. Take heart that every departure is complemented by the arrival of something new. #bettertomorrow,” a description on the video read.
The 10-minute short film was co-directed by Linus Chung and Mohd Hisham Saleh, who is also the Head of Social Media and Innovation for MAS. Linus, on the other hand is known for his other works such as A Note of Love (2007) and 15Malaysia (2009).
This isn’t the first time Linus and Hisham worked together to bring forth a beautiful piece of art in the form of a short film for MAS. In August 2014, they released Terbang for Merdeka Day and in February 2015, they produced Blessings in conjuction with Chinese New Year.
Hisham shared with Vulcan Post that aside from being a short film to commemorate Hari Raya, the story of FITRAH was also made to coincide with the rebirth of a new MAS this coming September. “The film suggests a need for everyone one of us to reflect on the past as we move ahead mirroring the airline’s effort in reflecting on the past as a whole as we move forward,” he said to Vulcan Post in an exclusive interview.
The whole filming process, including pre and post production, took 3 weeks. “3 weeks is quite a short time to discuss, rework, and finalise a script, break the script down to elements, get every element required for shoot together, book actors, shoot, edit, do sound design, visual effects and finishing the film for release,” Linus said.
“But it has proved ample as the team having worked on two short films of similar complexity had the fluidity and familiarity of a good working family,” he added.
The biggest challenge in producing the film, from Hisham’s opinion, was to be able to tell a story that can standalone by itself while still connecting the dots between the previous two short films—Terbang, and Blessings. “I also wanted to develop the story to be as honest a reflection as possible without pushing it too much into the realm of storytelling,” he said.
Hisham has proven that he had overcome his challenge since viewers of the film were able to both appreciate it and be reminded of the previous one made for Chinese New Year. Syahin Ihsan commented, “Get me tissues! I can’t hold my tears… This is indeed a beautiful short film. It clarifies the previous film of Chinese New Year.”
On the other hand, Linus said the biggest challenge for him was to work together with Hisham to produce the best product as possible. “Our challenge is to remove the ego of having the feelings of “my thoughts are better than yours” but just focus on what best tells the story. To illustrate this, think of it this way. Hisham walks left. I walk right. However, he pulls me left and I pull him right so we can go straight down in the middle,” Linus explained.
“The work sessions are an interesting series of polite debate as to what would work best all the way to the release of the film. Some praise me for the work, others praise Hisham… I honestly think it is a 50/50 mix of both our mind and effort.”
Viewers who are familiar with the work of Linus and Hisham would recognise one main distinct feature that is consistent in all their films—they use people of various races mixed together in the same family and all of them speak their mother tongue as well as other Malaysian languages/slang. This has always been a conscious effort on their behalf to fully incorporate Malaysian elements into the film.
In light of the recent racial issues brought up by the Low Yat Plaza fiasco, Linus had this to say:
“I think if you choose to see differences and nurture conflict, all of us are ultimately different and conflict is inherent with difference. If you put the boundaries set by race aside, you will realise we all individually have different upbringing with our own unique thought methodology and prejudices.
But if we collectively choose to embrace the beauty of our differences, instead of conflict, we will find that there exist beauty and wonder in differences. We travel for differences and it’s in these differences that a sense of discovery exist which makes a journey appealing.
Working on these short films, Hisham and I take a journey of discovery together in thought. I would give an opinion and Hisham will take that opinion make his own conclusion about it and give me his opinion in turn. It is in these healthy exchange of differences, that we craft our stories.
On a large scale, it is differences that has made Malaysia the fascinating pool of experience, culture and food that it is so why do we want to reduce ourselves to being overly sensitive and find conflict instead of wonder?”
Watch their heart-warming masterpiece here, and watch till the very end for an additional scene:
Vulcan Post wishes all our Muslim friends Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Have a safe and joyous celebration.
All images are credited to Linus, Hisham, and the whole crew of FITRAH.