ONLINE MOVIE PROGRAM「INVITATION TO AREA STUDIES」
When I began visiting Malaysia in the 1980s, I was welcomed by the song “To Know Malaysia is to Love Malaysia,” which was playing across the country at that time. I was fascinated by the Malaysian people’s warm acceptance of me as a foreigner, like the lyrics of that song.
The more I learned about Malaysia, the more I could see how different it is from my homeland. Malaysia is a dazzlingly multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and multi-lingual society, and I have found that they manage their diversity well by embracing it in a positive way, even if they have minor grievances with each other on a daily basis, just like any other country.
I decided to undertake a study of the practice of multiculturalism in Malaysia, believing that if people can learn from the Malaysian experience, the world can become more peaceful and prosperous. I soon learned that within Malaysian society, differences abound from one ethnic group to another and from one region to another. While Malaysia as a country has a common language, history, and culture, each ethnic group and region also has their own languages, histories and cultures, which together make up Malaysia as a whole.
Film is one of the few mediums that can represent and express the appeal of this diversity of Malaysian society. Whether fictional or documentary, films inevitably reflect the issues and concerns of the society at the time of their production. Even though we cannot consider everything on the screen to be true, we can gain a deeper understanding of a society by watching films made in that society and by learning about the intentions of the filmmakers and the society’s reaction to them.
This short video clip, created for Japanese high school students, introduces Malaysia through film. It was made with the help of my Malaysian friends Sharifah Amani and Ho Yuhang. Sharifah Amani is a storyteller and the lead actress in my favorite film of all time, Sepet (directed by Malaysia’s most memorable storyteller Yasmin Ahmad). Ho Yuhang is a filmmaker who began his career around the same time as Yasmin Ahmad.
The information of affiliation/position is as of the time of taking the movie.