Sunday, 26 July 2009

RIP: Yasmin Ahmad, Most Malaysian of Filmmakers, The Lady Who Smiles



R.I.P.
Yasmin Ahmad
(1958-2009)


The first thing I remember about Yasmin Ahmad was her smile. She had the most wonderful smile - happy, joyful, cheeky, and genuine. When she smiled at you, you genuinely felt that she was actually being happy AND being happy for you at the same time.

I first heard of Yasmin Ahmad when I saw Sepet. It was the first Malaysian movie in AGES that I'd seen, and it was also one of the most wonderful little films I had ever seen. It reminded me of my own childhood, growing up in Temerloh, and it was one of the most... MALAYSIAN movie I'd ever watched.

I first met Yasmin at the premiere of Gubra. Though I never got a chance to really talk to her properly, she seemed a nice, friendly person, someone I wouldn't mind having a chat with.

The next time I met Yasmin, it was during an awards show after party. She'd presented an award for best music video or something, which was memorable because she was the only one who wasn't speaking Chinese in the whole event. After that, I met her in the after party, where she mused out loud that she would love getting that Michael Wong Guang Liang guy in a movie, because he had a certain kind of 'local boy' look that she wanted.

I met Yasmin two other times after that, both in airports. The first, was when I was on the way back from Hong Kong. I went up to her to say hi, not expecting her to remember me, and she immediately knew who I was (never mind that she didn't remember my name haha).

The second airport encounter was when we were coming back from Japan, I think (or it could be Hong Kong again). This time, she actually recognized me, and I told her that we needed to stop meeting at airports like this. She laughed.

That was the last I remember of her. Since then, I never saw her again,

My encounters with Yasmin may seem insignificant when compared to those who had close relations, personally or professionally, with her. But I will always remember her as the lady who made wonderfully Malaysian movies, even if some idiots didn't think it was 'Malaysian' enough. I will remember her for those wonderfully poignant and quintessentially Malaysian ads she made. To me, she was the most Malaysian of Malaysian filmmakers, one who understood the need, and knew how to transcend race, religion and language, and to combine us all under One Malaysia: Her Ideal Malaysia.

But personally, above all her achievements, I will always remember her as the lady who smiled.

Rest in Peace, Yasmin Ahmad. We'll miss you greatly.

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