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Malaysian Director Jin Ong’s Abang Adik Wins 3 Awards At Italian Film Festival

Malaysian Director Jin Ong’s Abang Adik Wins 3 Awards At Italian Film Festival

The film Abang Adik also makes history at the Far East Film Festival as the first film from Southeast Asia to simultaneously win three awards.

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Malaysian social drama Abang Adik was named best film and winner of the Golden Mulberry prize at the 25th Far East Film Festival (FEFF) in Udine, Italy, on Sunday (30 April).

According to SCMP, the film bested 78 films from 14 countries.

It’s also the first time in the festival’s history that a Southeast Asian film simultaneously won the Golden Mulberry audience award, the Black Dragon Critic’s Prize, and the White Mulberry Award for the best first feature.

Abang Adik also previously won the audience prize and the Ecumenical Jury Award at Switzerland’s 37th Fribourg International Film Festival (FIFF) in March.

The film by director Jin Ong (full name Ong Lay Jin) is a story of two undocumented men, who were orphaned and are possibly brothers, learning to fend for themselves and each other in the harsh world.

Without documentation, they lack fundamental citizen rights such as opening a bank account or getting a passport.

Malaysian actor Jack Tan plays Adi while Taiwanese actor Wu Kang-ren plays Abang, a deaf and mute man.

Director Jin Ong’s ‘Abang Adik’ won a whopping three awards at the Far East Film Festival in Udine, Italy — Picture courtesy of Jin Ong/Malay Mail

The gripping tale showing the dark and hidden side of Kuala Lumpur garnered praise from the festival audience. Ong hopes the film highlights the issue of statelessness in the country.

The numerous wins are especially sweet since it’s also Ong’s first feature film after being a veteran producer.

I feel so happy, honestly. I didn’t expect to win three awards, I thought maybe one, because after the first screening, I received a lot of feedback and compliments from the audience. But I got three, which is beyond my expectations. The most important thing is to share more stories about Malaysia and … represent Malaysian films and filmmakers in other countries.

Jin Ong said in an interview with the Post

Hailing from Taiping, Perak, Ong has been making films and television shows since 2008 and has gathered 20-plus years of experience in the music industry. His base varies between Taipei, Taiwan, and Kuala Lumpur.

The films he produced are usually in the form of social commentaries about life in Malaysia such as Shuttle Life (2017) and Miss Andy (2019).

Shuttle Life, directed by Tan Seng Kiat, tells the story of a poor Chinese Malaysian family struggling to cope with tragedy and mental illness in the country’s fractured society.

Meanwhile, Miss Andy by Teddy Chin follows the life of a middle-aged Chinese Malaysian man who finally decides to come out as a trans woman.

Besides art films, Ong also directs commercial films. At the moment, he said he won’t direct a second feature film so soon.

However, when he does, he thinks it could be another social commentary film, possibly focusing on foreign workers in Malaysia.

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