Yasmin Ahmad, 1958 - 2009
I found out about Yasmin Ahmad quite late compared to the rest of my friends.
Not being one who usually watches Malay movies on TV, I missed “Rabun” when it was first shown on TV. By the time I realize that the person who directed “Rabun” was the same person who made the utterly heartwarming PETRONAS advertisements, “Sepet” was already about to be released. A lot of my friends told me to not miss watching the movie when it comes out which I didn’t. I came in not knowing what to expect and came out a changed person.
In “Sepet”, Yasmin gave us a peek into the idealized world that she must have felt was just out of reach for most of us. Her idealized world had all the ethnic races in Malaysia actually relating to each other on an equal field. She gave us a vision of a world where the “others” had the same problems and struggles that your ethic group had as well as the same hopes and dreams. She showed us a world more accepting of differences and tolerant of possibilities. She showed us a world that many of us long to see and more importantly be able to be a part of.
“Sepet” was a fresh breath of air for me and from that moment onwards I was a fan of Yasmin Ahmad’s work. I remember following her blog to read about her upcoming works as she shared details of them with her readers. Readers of her blog got to share in the process of making her subsequent films including “Gubra”, “Mukhsin”, “Muaalaf” and “Talentime”. She related to a personal level to the comments and feedback left on the blog by readers in response to her blog entries.
Yasmin Ahmad was not without her detractors. Her works were criticized as being unrealistic and out of touch of the Malay community she was a part of. She has been accused of trying to dilute the identity of Malays by mixing it up with the identities of other ethnic groups of the country. The more she was slammed by her detractors, the more determined she was to prove them wrong. The more harsh words were thrown at her, the more support her fans gave to her. In our own way, we wanted to help lessen the blows and give her the strength to go own making her wonderful films.
On July 25th, we lost our beloved film director Yasmin Ahmad to massive bleeding in the brain brought on by a sudden stroke. With her passing, we lost a voice that dared to show us a hopeful vision of what a possible future could be. Many of us are inconsolable with her passing but what we need to be mindful of is that there is a legacy that she left behind for us to continue. A legacy of understanding, tolerance and acceptance that we could incorporate into our daily lives to make the country a better place. She has shown us a possible better state of the community that she felt possible in her films. We, who she left behind, would do her memory justice by striving to make her world come through in our own little way.
Yasmin Ahmad may have passed on but we are still here to celebrate her vision and carry own her legacy. We could do no less by her.
Al-Fatihah, Yasmin Ahmad.
Rest in Peace.
"I Go" by Aizat/Pete Teo from "Talentime" OST