M. Raihan Halim noted that the Malaysian cinema industry is now more open to local indie filmmakers.
La Luna Director M. Raihan Halim thinks now is a great time to be making local independent films. The 41-year-old director, whose film was recently released internationally, believes that due to the recent resurgence of independent Malaysian cinema.
During his conversation with Variety, Raihan touched on the matter while speaking about his recent film La Luna, explaining how unique and different the storytelling is.
“We dream of making films and being able to show them to the world, to tell stories that have never been told before, in terms of sex in Muslim culture, which is something many people have never heard of.
“People kept asking me why I wanted to make a ‘sex comedy’, but it’s not a sex comedy, it’s a film about intimacy. We have cheeky scenes followed by scenes of people wearing turbans and discussing religion and this is unprecedented,” said the filmmaker.
He added that five years ago this would not have been possible. He further cited fellow Malaysian director Amanda Nell Eu’s Tiger Stripes’ success as proof.
“Amanda and I had the same art director and shared crew members. We came out as filmmakers at the same time, but we’ve made completely different films. It feels like a truly great time to be making Malay-language films in Malaysia.”
That said, Raihan noted that the local filmmakers do need to start thinking bigger about their capabilities.
Seeing how well La Luna has performed both locally and internationally, Raihan believes that Malaysian filmmakers too need to start reaching out to international audiences.
“I never dreamed I’d be showing my film at international festivals, speaking about my work and my culture to press and audiences across the world,” says the director.
“Travelling, talking to different people, and learning about different perspectives educate us and show us that the world is not as small as Malaysia or Singapore. It makes us realise that we need to make films for the world, not just for our countries,” he concluded.
What is La Luna about?
Raihan’s latest film La Luna centres around a rebellious woman named Hanie Abdullah (played by Sharifah Amani). Her character, who lives in a lonely and quiet village, opens up a lingerie store named La Luna.
The store allows her to not only teach local women about their sexuality but also to assist women who struggle with their controlling husbands and fathers.
Though the villagers are generally open to this idea, it is fiercely opposed by the village’s head (played by Wan Hanafi Su), who intends to bring down the business.
Things also get interesting when Hanie meets a widower police officer (played by Shaheizy Sam) who has a teenage daughter.