Just-do-it-(yourself): Independent filmmaking in Malaysia

Gaik Cheng Khoo

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    35 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper provides a brief introduction to the current independent film movement in Malaysia. I will then analyse some of the short films through theories of cosmopolitanism and space to talk about subjectivities-in-the-making. How are these films Malaysian and do the filmmakers necessarily identify their works as Malaysian? In this regard, I am of the opinion that although some filmmakers may want to represent a multiethnic Malaysia and touch on 'sensitive' issues that form the crux of Malaysian society, ultimately the desire to see a Malaysian film, defined as a film that represents Malaysian multiracialism or multiethnicity, is perhaps unrealistic, taking into account the segregated pluralist society these filmmakers inhabit. In fact, how these films identify as Malaysian seems to depend much more on the specifics of what each film is not. I will select a few films to give an overall perspective of the 'diversality' (Mignolo 2000: 743) that is reflective of cosmopolitanism in current Malaysian independent filmmaking. This is commensurate with a larger theoretical framework from which I am currently working in order to understand and position independent Malaysian filmmakers in relation to mainstream Malay cinema as well as on the global stage. The indie filmmakers' JDIY motto sums up the in-built tensions Malaysian indie filmmakers experience from economic globalization as well as from the state and from being cosmopolitan and cosmopolitical.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)227-247
    Number of pages21
    JournalInter-Asia Cultural Studies
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2007


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