| Izah Azahari |
“YASMINE” the movie has been getting great reception and rave reviews even before its premiere here in Brunei.
It also got into the Cannes Film Festival and other international events. It was nominated for award shows’ various categories, winning the Best Asian Film at the Swiss Film Festival.
After the film’s recent nomination for a NETPAC (Network for the Pro-motion of Asian Cinema) Award at the Hawaii International Film Festival, the Bulletin sat down with “Yasmine” director Siti Kamaluddin to learn more about the movie.
On top of being the only Bruneian movie that has been played in cinemas outside the country and bought by television stations abroad, “Yasmine” captures Brunei beautifully with its cinematic approach and this is also what sets it apart from other films.
“What makes ‘Yasmine’ so special to me is that every shot and every score was chosen for a reason,” said Siti. “We had already conceptualised how the story would be told and what the look was going to be like from the very beginning. And that was also done at every single stage.”
“‘Yasmine’ was made with a lot of love and I am awed that our fans are mostly young children and teenagers,” continued the director, adding that she has received plenty of positive feedback from people on social media who often send her incredible messages.
“They tell me that they can’t wait for my next film, and that they are so proud to be Bruneian and to have something that they can call their own.”
Moreover, as the two inspiring female leads of “Yasmine” – Liyana Yus and Nadiah Wahid – had no acting background prior to filming,
Siti believes that this gives Bruneian youth hope of making it big in the creative industry, saying she was looking forward to meeting more aspiring actors.
When asked about her passion for directing, Siti replied, “Growing up, it was a bit like (the character) Yasmine, where she went into things for all the wrong reasons, but in the end she discovered something so valuable … I think life in general is like that.”
“But I’ve always loved movies since I was young. I didn’t think it was possible for me to be a filmmaker in Brunei, but one day it was just ‘I’m going to try it’,” she explained.
With “Yasmine” being the first movie to be produced by Origin Films, Siti also expressed her elation after getting such encouraging response, as they had only hoped for the best.
She shared that the first stage – finding budget to fund the film – was the hardest hurdle to overcome, but perseverance, she said, is what a director needs, along with time and patience, to make a masterpiece. It was a challenging journey for Siti to make her dream come true.
“Once the funding came in, then that was it … the rest will fall into place.”
After receiving a grant from the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB), everything was set in motion, with Salman Aristo writing the screenplay, the recruitment of crew members, setting up locations for the film as well as the casting of the lead roles.
Siti also expressed her gratitude to Brunei’s government for openly supporting the creative industry and hoped they could also support it financially.
“We didn’t do this just for Origin. If that were the case, Origin would have made films for themselves a long time ago… What’s important is to get the government’s support so we can do it as a nation because we need to create something new here to build up the creative industry.”
Origin Films has yet to complete its “Yasmine” tour, but at the same time is developing other films and training Bruneians in the film and creative industry.
“The youth come here with little knowledge of the industry, so we train them to either become crew members, assistant directors, producers and some in post-production,” revealed Siti.
As for aspiring directors, Siti’s said, “Maybe at the early stage of our career, we may not be good yet, but that’s okay because it’s a process.”
“The important thing is to appreciate everything and go through life in high spirits”.
The Bulletin also brought up the issue of piracy and Siti appealed to the public to report any case of it once “Yasmine” is released on DVD.
“Help us build our creative industry and only buy original DVDs. We don’t want to be the only one to make films, and we don’t want to make only one film.
“If our fans love what we do and they want us to continue doing what we do, they should spread the message.”