Sunday, March 25, 2007

[HKIFF] Village People Radio Show (Apa Khabar Orang Kampung)

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow

The latest news about Amir Muhammad's Village People Radio Show, is that Malaysia has banned it outright. That makes it two in a row for Amir. Like his previous documentary The Last Communist, this is a sequel of sorts continuing on a similar topic where The Last Communist left off, with the filmmaker and his team revisiting the village at the Malaysian Thai border, interviewing the Malay-Muslim members of the old communist party.

However, after watching it, one cannot fathom the ban. There wasn't any violence, sex nor the word "Communist" in the title. Neither did it glorify, and perhaps it did not condemn. What it did, again like its predecessor, is to allow the interviewees to share history based on their perspective. Perhaps it is this opportunity for an avenue to air thoughts, that it's deemed as a "dangerous" movie that shouldn't be seen by the masses?

There are nice touches in the documentary, and usually they're the scenes of serene, calm, and innocence exuded by the children - two girls having the time of their lives playing on a see saw. Those who expect something of sorts like The Last Communist will be disappointed. There is the clear absence of the madcap song and dance routines that made The Last Communist enjoyable. Here it has taken a rather serious, at times mundane, tone to its delivery, as if to demonstrate that there is no need for visual and aural gimmicks to spice up the film.

But it decided to incorporate some Thai melodrama into the presentation, and there will be some who will enjoy reading in between the lines. And in relation to its title "Radio Show", the narrative adopted a style of turning the dials, having transitions that must take getting used to before it irritates, especially when they start off rather long in duration (as a transitional scene).

Respectable documentary this is, but don't expect anything fancy. Really too bad about the ban, which does seem to drum up more support and curiosity for the movie, rather than to achieve its supposed desired effect.

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