Wednesday, 5 March
6:30 p.m. – Korean Studies Auditorium
Directed by Yasmin Ahmad
Malaysia, 2006, 90 minutes
Malay with English Subtitles
Ten-year-old Orked is the kind of kid who confronts bullies she sees harassing smaller children, but hides under her bed when the neighborhood girls try to recruit her to join in their game of “wedding.” Her amorous, nonconformist parents, Pak Atan and Mak Inom, are fodder for local gossip. “Malays who have forgotten their roots,” sniffs the woman next door while watching Orked and her mother dancing outside in the rain. It’s little wonder that twelve-year-old Mukhsin, whose mother has fled from his abusive father, and whose older brother has taken refuge in drunken hostility, comes to love Orked and her easygoing family. Gentler and in some ways more focused than Ahmad’s previous films about Orked and her parents, RABUN, SEPET (SFIFF 2005) and GUBRA (SFIFF 2006), Mukhsin portrays without melodrama the tender awkwardness of childhood friendship growing into first love. She also offers an affectionate, funny, occasionally critical portrait of Malay life and marriage, from a coach who seems to communicate only with gestures and blasts of a whistle, to an unhappily married neighborhood woman who sends her little girl over to relay spiteful comments to Orked. Adibah Noor reprises her role as Yam, the hefty, no-nonsense housekeeper in a household of free spirits, Mohd. Syafie bin Naswip gives an affecting, sometimes wistful performance as Mukhsin, and Sharifah Aryana Syed Zainal Rashid is a sharp and likeable Orked. Ahmad notes that Mukhsin was inspired by the poem “First Love” by Wislawa Szymborska: “In it, she wrote how the first love may not be as tempestuous or as passionate as later ones, but for some reason it’s the one that stays with you until the very end.” -courtesy of San Francisco International Film Festival
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