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KAMUNTING
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A visit to a prisoner of Malaysia's notorious Internal Security Act. But is photography permitted?
 
 
Award:
Best Asian Digital Film, 2003 Singapore International Film Festival
 
Other Festivals:
 
2003 Vancouver International Film Festival (North American Premiere)
 
 
Duration: 15 min
Language: English & Malay (with English subtitles)
Shooting Format: DV (Colour)
 
Review:
 
"An ironic journey into a country's heart of darkness."
- Jury citation, 2003 Singapore International Film Festival
 
 
Production Notes:
 
For this short I wanted the visuals to be as stark as possible, as if to take the viewer on the same journey that I took on the North-South highway to visit my incarcerated friend.
Although his name is never mentioned in the text, the friend is Hishamuddin Rais who had made a road movie, "Dari Jemapoh ke Manchestee." So the footage of roads, which I find hypnotic in its own right, is also a subtextual reference and tribute to him.
During the voice-overs in which extracts from the detainees' accounts of interrogation and deprivation were recounted, the editor suggested that I loop the image from inside the tunnel for the entire duration, to emphasise the claustrophobia. But I decided against this. After all, what is being inside a tunnel for a few minutes compared to being physically and mentally abused? You can still look at the wide-open spaces of sky and trees while listening to these accounts. The only effects made in this segment were relatively subtle: to make the voice sound like it's coming from the car radio, and also to grade the sky so that it looks more orange than blue.
The music chosen for two segments is somewhat upbeat and therefore seemingly farcical, which is why I like it. I also deliberately did not mention the charges against the detainees. Since none of them have been officially charged with anything (which is the particular horror of the ISA), it would not have been appropriate to go into the rationales as explained in press conferences by senior government and police officials for these arrests. To enter into these unofficial "charges" would be to deal with the unfounded, unproven and, finally, unconscionable.
 
 
Writer/Director/Producer: Amir Muhammad
Camera: Jon Yap
Editors: Hann & Zulkarnaen Kassim
Music: Jerome Kugan
Voice-Over: Nam Ron
Extracts from the book "Bidak di Papan Catur" compiled by Raja Petra Kamaruddin
Post-Production Sound: AddAudio
Colour Grading: VHQ
Post-Production Support: Kino-i