The creative opportunity for Brunei

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Arno Maierbrugger
By Arno Maierbrugger

Brunei has received its fair share of attention for launching it first-ever commercial movie for an international audience, Yasmine, directed by Brunei’s first female director and starring novice actors. The movie is about a girl who wants to be a silat champion, a fighting technique which is Brunei’s hypnotic and dance-like answer to kung fu.

The British paper Guardian got wind of the project and joked that if one is not shopping, driving or eating in Brunei, then he or she must be watching a film as the cinema was often “the most exciting place” to be in the Sultanate and thus the first indigenous production deserves some attention.

Anyway, Yasmine can be seen as the dawn of Brunei’s creative industry which has indeed been in a limbo over the past years. There were some other productions, but they were rather rare and did not get much notice outside Brunei, with the latest example being Ada Apa Dengan Rina (What’s So Special About Rina) which came out earlier this year, a romantic comedy and uses local dialects produced by a local company called Regalblue Productions. It was the first film to involve fully local creative and technical expertise as well as actors, but is was only the second Bruneian feature film after the 1968 drama called Gema Dari Menara (Voices from the Minaret).

Probably the Guardian is right. Ada Apa Dengan Rina received an overwhelming support from the public: The shows were fully booked for days after its release and 80 per cent occupancy remained throughout its showing.

In fact, Brunei has plenty of creative talent and it certainly can be able to capitalise on it. The producer of Yasmine Khairuddin Kamaluddin, said that he hopes that the movie will “kickstart new industries such as film schools”.

Now it remains in the hands of the government if such creative endeavours will be incentivised to put Brunei at least a bit on the radar of the international film and creative scene. Remarkably, the movie’s director Siti Kamaluddin credited the Brunei government for throwing its full support behind Yasmine, and she added that there were no complications whatsoever of filming the movie. In contrary, films worthy of an international audience can boost the nation’s industry and image. Brunei could easily promote itself as a filmmaking centre, and the Tourism Board could also help promote the Sultanate as a destination for international movies, which, in turn, helps local employment and creates tourism opportunities.

This comment is part of Inside Investor’s weekly column series in Brunei’s leading newspaper Brunei Times and is published every Monday.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

By Arno Maierbrugger

Brunei has received its fair share of attention for launching it first-ever commercial movie for an international audience, Yasmine, directed by Brunei’s first female director and starring novice actors. The movie is about a girl who wants to be a silat champion, a fighting technique which is Brunei’s hypnotic and dance-like answer to kung fu.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Arno Maierbrugger
By Arno Maierbrugger

Brunei has received its fair share of attention for launching it first-ever commercial movie for an international audience, Yasmine, directed by Brunei’s first female director and starring novice actors. The movie is about a girl who wants to be a silat champion, a fighting technique which is Brunei’s hypnotic and dance-like answer to kung fu.

The British paper Guardian got wind of the project and joked that if one is not shopping, driving or eating in Brunei, then he or she must be watching a film as the cinema was often “the most exciting place” to be in the Sultanate and thus the first indigenous production deserves some attention.

Anyway, Yasmine can be seen as the dawn of Brunei’s creative industry which has indeed been in a limbo over the past years. There were some other productions, but they were rather rare and did not get much notice outside Brunei, with the latest example being Ada Apa Dengan Rina (What’s So Special About Rina) which came out earlier this year, a romantic comedy and uses local dialects produced by a local company called Regalblue Productions. It was the first film to involve fully local creative and technical expertise as well as actors, but is was only the second Bruneian feature film after the 1968 drama called Gema Dari Menara (Voices from the Minaret).

Probably the Guardian is right. Ada Apa Dengan Rina received an overwhelming support from the public: The shows were fully booked for days after its release and 80 per cent occupancy remained throughout its showing.

In fact, Brunei has plenty of creative talent and it certainly can be able to capitalise on it. The producer of Yasmine Khairuddin Kamaluddin, said that he hopes that the movie will “kickstart new industries such as film schools”.

Now it remains in the hands of the government if such creative endeavours will be incentivised to put Brunei at least a bit on the radar of the international film and creative scene. Remarkably, the movie’s director Siti Kamaluddin credited the Brunei government for throwing its full support behind Yasmine, and she added that there were no complications whatsoever of filming the movie. In contrary, films worthy of an international audience can boost the nation’s industry and image. Brunei could easily promote itself as a filmmaking centre, and the Tourism Board could also help promote the Sultanate as a destination for international movies, which, in turn, helps local employment and creates tourism opportunities.

This comment is part of Inside Investor’s weekly column series in Brunei’s leading newspaper Brunei Times and is published every Monday.

brunei_times_logo

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