Having had a few drinks and a good time the night before, I was surprised that I was not as groggy as I had expected, after having slept in the wee hours of the morning. When my editor contacted me for the piece, I was enshrouded in a temporal mystique, not knowing anything of what was being presented to me.
“You wanna go cover for Mula?” was all that was said along with the attachment of the film’s poster.
It had been a whole year since I had stepped into the field and done proper journalistic reviews, and I was excited to finally step into my element, once again resuming interviews in the flesh after conducting them behind a screen for a whole year.
So, I agreed. Getting ready, then having a Grab driver cancel on me and showing up to the venue 10 minutes late, I was still somehow ready to take on the world – or so I convinced myself. When I had contacted the director, Yazeid Suhaimi on Instagram the night before, I had, like the next writer, done some research to make sure that I would not get lost while searching for the venue. But in true fashion to myself, I wandered around the premise for a good 15 minutes before I was finally brought up to Tingkat Tiga. Attached to the space is Sundoh, a makeshift kitchen that, in my opinion, was serving one of the best fish burgers one could buy under RM20.
Blending in plain sight above a car workshop, two stories high, is where the movie would eventually be screened at 12 PM. Premiering for the first time amongst the cast and crew at Tingkat Tiga, an alternative and contemporary space for like-minded creatives to collate and “chill out”, was one space I did not expect Yazeid to show his first commercial indie film. The unassuming space, which does not have a significant digital footprint or a discernable address served as a breath of fresh air. The outside space was littered with the shoes of those who were attending the AM screening. Plastered on the walls are art pieces from local creators and complementing the allure of the day was a life-sized poster of the short film on the front door. Donning guns, the nuns played by Nia Atasha and Annees Sofea elicited a certain kind of expectation within me for the film – pure excitement.
Sitting around and mingling with the director and his producer, Putri Purnama Sugua, I decided to pick his mind into why his first film was centered around a controversial theme of nuns seeking revenge, the antithesis of what it means to be a subservient being of the almighty. When inquired, Suhaimi shared, “This was a project that I have had in the works since 2019. It was halted due to the pandemic, but the thesis of the idea stemmed from before my visit to the Busan Film Festival”. A guest at one of the panels during the festival period, Suhaimi was prompted with the advice to “go for it” when speaking to filmmakers on creating visual works. With the support and backing of Sugua, Suhaimi set out his motives in motion to finalize and realize his vision of his short film.
Having been acquainted with Sugua during his tertiary education and sealing their friendship officially during the Film Leaders Incubator event in Singapore, Sugua had this to say about Suhaimi. “I had been enthralled by his work and craft as a director. I had met him at FLI and we had been following each other for some time. When he had put up a call for Assistant Directors, I applied anyway and the rest, as one says, is history”.
The film, at its heart, was an experimentation of Suhami’s style of filmmaking. Sugua notes that up-and-coming directors and filmmakers from the West have a noticeable style to their filmmaking that makes it discernable in a pool of short films and movies. This is how Suhaimi stands out: with his dark and moody tills of colors that depict the impending doom of the film. While the film does not entail a backstory to the tragedy of the nuns – an almost half-swallowed entry into the horror genre (interpretations of the film are welcome but this is mine), I am itching to know why the three men portrayed on screen were tied, gagged, and stripped in a foreign field. An added itch to scratch and satisfy is how our own Editor-at-Large, Dhan Illiani, made her appearance for a brief moment in a Polaroid picture, almost as an integral missing puzzle piece and an invitation to a backstory of her nun-hood and her untimely demise. With many heads blown off (quite literally) with the gun, I couldn’t help but wonder if the piece was centered around the unspoken festering of traumatic experiences – all brought to life from the never-ending perpetration of violence rooted at the center of men.
All in all, I would give this seven-minute short film and the experience a 4/5. A stellar talent in the making, Suhami is in my books for more things to come and I will be looking out for his future works and more importantly, his completion to the opened universe of Soeurs.
Director: Yazeid Suhaimi
Producer: Putri Purnama Sugua
DP: Matthew Chow
Editor: Arif Syafzan
Composer: Arif Akmal
Poster: Najmi Ariffin
Photography: Amani Azlin