Six Malaysians share their thoughts on how politics and social justice affect the local art scene.
Most Malaysian voters would have moved on from last year’s 13th general election (GE13) the moment the indelible ink washed off their index fingers. But not the people behind Seeing Eye Films.
Inspired by the events that happened before, during and after the exciting elections period, the folks from the independent film company decided to make Future Expressions: 6 Artists Reflect On The Future Of Malaysia, a documentary that encapsulates the thoughts and feelings of regular Malaysians on that subject.
They approached six prominent artists – painter Anurendra Jegadeva, comedian Douglas Lim, theatre enthusiast Jo Kukathas, writer Nathaniel Tan, musician Russell Curtis and dancer Suhaili Micheline – from the different art faculties and encouraged them to share their opinion on how politics influences and inspires various areas of the local art scene.
“The six were handpicked because of the nature of their work. They have work that is of social narrative or influence in one way or another. We wanted to pick the best and form a diverse group for the first of our documentary series,” said director Gary Liew, adding that he wanted to be more than just an armchair critic.
The documentary, shot earlier this year, took about a month to complete and has the artists fielding questions about the political and social climate in the country. Unscripted, their answers are honest and raw and lend and emotional touch to the 30-minute long documentary.
“What we discussed in the documentary is not something new. It is about what the silent majority always talks about (among themselves) and never gets heard because the silent majority is … silent.
“We hear the extremists making noise because they are in the minority and are little irritants who try to get as much attention as they can. So Gary said, ‘Let’s make this video and play it loud’,” shared funny man Lim on why he decided to be part of the project.
Russell added: “When Gary approached me, it was around the time after GE13 and I had just released a song titled United In Grace. The song is about telling people to ask less about race and more about grace, to care for each other, and to be Malaysians.
“So, when Gary asked me to be part of this, it was almost like the next step.”
The artists are also seen engaging in a deep discussion in The Future Expressions, during which they highlight the key issues pertaining race, culture and diversity in Malaysia.
“A lot of us are thinking about what’s going on with our nation but no one is really talking about it, there is no real dialogue. This documentary comes at a really good time because we need to talk about it,” said Liew.
The director also hopes that after watching The Future Expressions, more Malaysia will come forward to share their thoughts and more importantly, be proactive in bringing the positive changes they year.
“I hope it provokes their thoughts. I hope that they realise that there is so much more to this nation than what is out there. They should have dialogues and do something about it, and not just sit and wait for something to happen,” he said.