A nation comes together and falls apart at the simplest things. Communities rally around common ideas and themes, and when it comes to personal matters of race and family, a minor difference in opinion can turn especially volatile. This is especially true for Malaysia.
In this short film ‘Seliseh’ by Ismail Kamarul of Reservoir Productions, the longtime producer takes to the director seat to share his take on the subject in his first feature short film.
The Malay word and film title “seliseh” means “disagreement” or “differences”, and tells a simple yet thought-provoking story of unity and understanding through Melur and Xiao Li. The two girls from neighbouring villages first meet when Xiao Li is lost after running away from home.
Though they fight upon first meeting due to a misunderstanding and language differences, they and their families need to escape a literal and metaphorical pit they’ve fallen into.
The plot is deliberate and reflect Kamarul’s thoughts on the nation:
…[Malaysians] are stuck. Stuck in this hole that we desperately need to climb out of. We don’t understand each other very well, and in order for us to get out of this hole, we need to settle our differences, be it language, culture and especially religion.
The choice of filming location is also a historical consideration:
I chose to shoot in Baling Town in the border of Kedah because of its historical significance. In 1955, Chin Peng, David Marshall and Tunku Abdul Rahman met for the last time in Baling to resolve the Malayan Emergency situation. Unfortunately they did not come to an agreement. And I think, things would have been different today if they didn’t, ‘berselisihan’. It’s only fitting to shoot this there.
Watch the trailer to the film below and don’t miss the premiere on August 12 on Viddsee.com!
The Federation of Malaya gained its independence on 31 August 1957. Malaysia as we know it was established in union with two Borneo states on 16 September, 1963.