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Malaysian animation has been on a roll recently, hasn’t it?

We’ve celebrated how Upin & Ipin is making a bid for Oscar 2020 while Boboiboy’s director previously highlighted that Malaysian animation is as competitive as Hollywood’s.

Now, our local talents have another feather in their cap with the international success of Batik Girl!

The animated film by The R&D studio about a young girl from Terengganu discovering the magic of batik has been making waves across the festival circuit with showcases at 26 film festivals across 17 countries around the globe!

New Straits Times points out that the 9-minute animated short sprinted right into the festival circuit, an element that co-creator and director of Batik Girl, Irwan Junaidy finds important.

“If you have a great story that you want to tell the world, festivals are the easiest and cheapest way to do it. You’re also putting your work alongside some of the best in the world so you will automatically up your own game and try to push the boundaries of the art form.”

Irwan Junaidy, The R&D Studio senior partner, Co-creator & Director of Batik Girl.

As it turns out, Irwan and The R&D Studio (yes, the same studio that produced the series “Wizards of Warna Walk” on Disney Channel Asia) were onto something.

Batik Girl has been steadily gaining accolades throughout 2019, receiving the Honorable Mention in Audience Favorites award at Florida Animation Festival, Best Animated Short Film prize at the Festival de Largos y Cortos de Santiago 2019 in Chile as well as Gold Medal in the Regional category at the 20th Digicon6 Asia, Japan.

“It’s a whimsical, truly beautiful film that celebrates through the glorious forms and colours of animation, a life transforming nature of the creative imagination. I think actually the film is a profound meditation on the very idea of animation”

Professor Richard William Allen (Dean, School of Creative Media and Chair/Professor of Film and Media Art, City University of Hong Kong) via Batik Girl/Facebook.

So what exactly did the critics fall in love with?

Well, take one look at the animated film and we dare you to resist the vivid batik dream sequence!

Screenshot from The R&D Studio/YouTube

Irwan told us that conceptualising the batik world sequence no easy task because they didn’t have anything to latch on to as a starting point.

“We had to try and make a 2D batik artwork into a 3D world.”

Irwan Junaidy, The R&D Studio senior partner, Co-creator & Director of Batik Girl.

So they dove into the world of batik, diligently studying the art to successfully translate batik painting techniques to animation. “We discovered so many other cool stuff about batik in our research which we tried to put into the design of our batik world,” Irwan says. Such as:

1. Daun berjalan – Flora-based batik with different motifs animated as creeping vines in the jungle.

Screenshot from The R&D Studio/YouTube

2. Retak – Cracked patterns on batik presented as textures of rocks for the mountain scene.

Screenshot from The R&D Studio/YouTube

3. Multi spouted cantings – The pen-like tool to apply wax that can draw multiple wavy lines and seen as waves in the ocean.

Screenshot from The R&D Studio/YouTube

Another important aspect that won over the critics was, of course, the storyline.

The brainchild of writer Heidi Shamsuddin and Irwan, the seed of Batik Girl was actually planted at a children’s book fair in Italy!

They noticed an elderly couple intently analysing the batik tablecloth of the Malaysian display despite being surrounded by hundreds of beautiful children’s books.

“In our overactive imagination we thought that they must have surely seen something in the tablecloth, a creature that is moving inside the batik patterns and that was the reason why they wanted to purchase it!”

Irwan Junaidy, The R&D Studio senior partner, Co-creator & Director of Batik Girl.

That set off the tale of a young girl discovering the beauty of batik after struggling to cope with the loss of her family.

Irwan points out that themes of family love and grief are explored in the film but ultimately, but the emotional core of Batik Girl is the relationship between a grandchild and her grandmother – something that could be appreciated by anyone around the world.

Screenshot from The R&D Studio/YouTube

Irwan confesses that a lot of time was spent on the story development and preproduction process. Of the year long journey to making Batik Girl, 8 months was spent on story development while animation production took 4 months. They made sure they had everything right before going into production.

The R&D Studio team researched on traditional Terengganu architecture as well as watched batik craftsmen closely to perfect Batik girl.
(Credit: @BatikGirlFilm/Facebook)

The end result is something that showed the world what Malaysian animation is capable of. With the YouTube premiere of Batik Girl earlier this month, you can now watch the magic of Batik Girl for yourself too!


Impressed by Batik Girl? Share your thoughts on the film and Malaysia’s animation industry on TRP’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

(Award-winning animated short film 'Batik Girl' makes its national debut)

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