Keat Aun Chong presents The Story of Southern Islet in the Meeting Point section, a film based on his own experiences

The Meeting Point section of the 66th edition of Seminci screened this Monday 25th October the feature film The Story of Southern Islet by Keat Aun Chong. It is the first Malaysian film to be selected at the festival, something that fills its director with pride: “I just found out that it’s the first Malaysian film at Seminci; it is a real honour.”

The film explores the coexistence of beliefs and races in Malaysia, as well as delving into ancient traditions, as explained before the screening. Keat Aun Chong, who was present at the presentation of the film, explained to the audience that it is an autobiographical film: “What you are going to see is based on my own experiences, because my father was cursed by someone, we still don’t know who, that same year.”

Set in 1987, The Story of Southern Islet is about ancestral significance, as explained in its introduction. It tells the story of a couple with different beliefs. Cheong, a devotee of Datuk Gong, is cursed, and his wife Yan, with more western beliefs, embarks on a journey that will lead her to consulting all kinds of shamans and practitioners, seeing that no doctor can cure her husband.

The filmmaker, who is also a dancer, reflects the universe of the performing arts in his film: “I started dancing 10 years ago, all kinds of dances. Then I studied film and I also started researching the ancient Malaysian traditions, because being so close to Thailand, it has a lot of influence from the Siam culture.

The Story of Southern Islet has been screened at different festivals where it has won prizes such as the Fipresci Award in Taipei. Seminci will be the last festival where it will be screened, so the director brought a souvenir with him: “As it is the last festival where the film will be screened, I have brought here the voodoo figure that appears in the film. But don’t be afraid!” he commented with a laugh.

Vadim in a Walk

Before the screening of the feature film, the Fundos Hall screened the short film Vadim in a Walk by Sasha Svirsky. Its director attended the presentation and said that he was able to integrate his own experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Russian short film shows how Vadim leaves his space and begins to enjoy a new world.

The Story of Southern Islet and Vadim in a Walk will be screened again on Saturday, October 30th at 11:30am in the Fundos Hall.

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