Spotlight falls on Tutong folklore

James Kon

Bruneian filmmaker Abdul Zainidi completed the shooting of his latest film, Widow and the Worm. Inspired by a folklore tale from the Tutong District, the film portrays two outcast individuals (a widow and a differently abled person) who become the best of friends.

Abdul Zainidi won a pitching competition for Southeast Asian projects at the Busan Asian Film School, earning himself a grant of more than USD2,000 to carry out his project.

In a recent interview, the young filmmaker revealed, “I knew my storyline, my characters and setting in Tutong during the pitching.

The story is based on a fairy tale of a witch who lives in the forest and has a magical beetle, which is the source of her power.

Many intruders tried to steal the beetle but were unsuccessful, until one day, a visually impaired boy managed to steal the beetle, which helps cure his blindness.

Abdul Zainidi at the shoot of his film ‘Widow and the Worm’. PHOTO: JAMES KON

“In my version of the film, it’s a widow and a person with different abilities (hearing impaired). Both were outcast and they become friends.”

Giving the film a little bit of spice, there is also a mystery in the house where she stays.

“I am very proud of this film because I wanted to raise awareness with the involvement of a person with different abilities so I didn’t use a professional actor.

“I directed the actor, I told the folklore and showed the different side. People were really impressed by the shot of the film in the trailer.”

Continuing, he shared, “I want to highlight persons with different abilities because they don’t get the recognition that they deserve.

“Instead of taking a professional actor for the film, I recruited Aslam Hassan who is in his 20’s and is a person with different abilities.

“We communicated with sign language. The widow’s role was played by Norlinah binti Haji Abdul Hamid who had no acting experience but has facial features that complement the character. They have never acted before and were interested in acting.

“Using a shoestring budget to complete the film is challenging but we know that it is important to tell the story to the world,” he affirmed.

On working with a new actor and actress, Abdul Zainidi said, “It’s not easy because they always looked at the camera but they gradually improved. I learnt basic sign language in order to communicate with Aslam.”

On the film itself, he said, “This film should be popular as it is more mainstream and people can really relate to this compared to my previous films – Vanishing Children and Vanishing Children Again. “We shot a lot of the film in the Bukit Udal and Lamunin areas of the Tutong District,” he noted.

On the current status of the film, Abdul Zainidi said, “We are now carrying out post production. The film is expected to premiere in March this year in Brunei and in Korea by July. I am preparing for the upcoming Pesta Buku where I will be promoting the film…I hope that this film will also open more doors of opportunity for myself as well as Brunei’s films.”