Director's Notes
Articles & Reviews



When I took a few Cantonese lessons, I remembered a friend who is no longer here. Which is not to say he's dead.
Distributor (North America):  Frameline
Best Short (Open Category), 2003 Substation Emergency Filmmaking Project (Singapore)
Bronze Award, Best Short Film, 2002 Malaysian Video Awards
2003 CINEFAN Film Festival (India)
2003 QueerDoc (Sydney)
2004 Cinemasia Amsterdam Film Festival (European premiere)
2004 Images Festival (Toronto)
Duration: 12.5 min
Language: Malay and Cantonese (with English subtitles)
Shooting Format: DV (Colour)
Production Notes:
Petaling Street, in the city's Chinatown, has always been one of my favourite places in KL and I have many happy memories of lingering in the area en route from my secondary school to take the bus home.
I was fortunate enough that my friend Naeim was able to shoot so much footage there. I doubt if the folks who run the area would have taken as kindly to the sight of me with a camera. Naeim could get away with it because he is Iranian-American and looks like such a tourist.
Aside from the opening, we don't really get to see the sky or any establishing shots. I wanted to plunge the viewer into an experience where everything looks and sounds a bit strange, analogous to learning a language for the first time. The narrator, and by extension the viewer, is looking in but does not really understand what's going on.
Although the narration is simple enough, I hope it has deeper resonance with respect to the ethnic compartmentalisation in this country where many topics are considered "sensitive" and left to fester. By showing dozens of people at work and at leisure, I hope also to open up the story so that it's not just about the two boys but about everybody and anybody.
The immediate stylistic inspiration for this short is another short, "Mother" by the Singaporean filmmaker Royston Tan, which uses found footage (8mm family shots from the 1950s and 1960s) as a backdrop collage for a personal story told in a fictionalised way. I was very impressed by the deadpan but emotionally potent way in which the Mandarin monologue was delivered there. And having seen Fahmi perform in the Akshen theatre group, I knew he could deliver what I wanted.
The closing shots are of mirrors, to emphasise that although it may seem difficult to come to terms with someone who is "different", the real challenge comes in being true to your own self. And this is what I attempted to do here.
Writer/Director/Producer: Amir Muhammad
Camera: Naeim Ghalili
Editor: Zulkarnaen Kassim at Finas POST
Music: Jerome Kugan
Voice-Over: Fahmi Fadzil
Post-Production Sound: AddAudio
Post-Production Support: Kino-i