Nasi Bungkus Cinema : M for Malaysia

Nasi Bungkus Cinema, the alternative film screening program organised by the School of Arts and Social Sciences returned for its second run this semester on the 6th of September 2019 with the premiere screening of the documentary M for Malaysia (2019), directed by Datin Dian Lee and Ineza Roussille.

M for Malaysia (2019) documents the 14th Malaysian General Elections (GE14) when the people of Malaysia made history in 2018 by voting in opposition coalition political party Pakatan Harapan and voting out the ruling government coalition, Barisan Nasional who served 61 years in government power. The heartfelt and uplifting documentary feature film gives the audience a behind-the-scenes look at the campaigning process 16 days leading up to polling day on 9 May 2018, right up to the surprising election results and the swearing-in of the world’s oldest Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad. With a moving score composed by Malaysian Los Angeles-based composer, Rendra Zawawi and a theme song featuring Malaysian songstress Yuna, the documentary features sit-down interviews with certain key players in the GE14 - both supporters and critics of Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad that accompanies the film’s narrative surrounding the themes of change, unity and reconciliation.

The women behind the film, co-directors and co-producers Datin Dian Lee and Ineza Rousille, Executive Producer Datin Seri Paduka Marina Mahathir and Creative Producer Ruby Yang were in attendance for the premiere screening at the Plenary Theatre, ahead of the film’s cinema release. The film screening was also attended by Monash University Malaysia students and staff, and film aficionados from the general public. In a Q&A session conducted after the film screening, the creators shared with the audience they hope that M for Malaysia will serve as a reminder to Malaysians of the people’s courage and tenacity - something that should be remembered and proud of, following the historic 14th Malaysian General Elections (GE14).

Executive Producer Datin Seri Paduka Marina Mahathir recounted how the team didn’t set out with the intention of creating a documentary and that they actually only intended to capture what would most likely be her father, Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad’s last political campaign. It was only after Pakatan Harapan’s historic win in the GE14, that the team decided they would do something with the enormous amount of footage (over 90 hours) they collected throughout the campaigning process, and so began the long process of crafting a film narrative and complementing it with follow-up interviews, archival footage and substantial research. It was a new and exciting experience for Datin Seri Paduka Marina Mahathir, who also confessed that she didn’t follow her father on his campaign trail the first time round.

The all-female film crew behind M for Malaysia also shared that they too felt the stress and tension of the campaigning process that was shown through several raw, emotional moments on screen. Overall, the documentary film will be sure to leave a positive impact on the audience who, like me, felt a sense of pride and appreciation for the efforts of many Malaysians who came together on one historic polling day last 9 May 2018 and did the impossible by voting for a new coalition to hold government power.

For more information on future film screenings, check out the Nasi Bungkus Cinema Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/nasibungkuscinema

Written by: Sofiah Shariman