Award-winning Malaysian filmmaker Chong Keat Aun recently released his Chinese New Year folk music video Echoes Of The New Year to celebrate our country's diverse cultures.
The video – a co-production between SunStrong Entertainment, Janji Pictures, Southern Islet Pictures and The Classic Accents – opens with a classic poem that gives viewers a sense of hope as we usher in the festive season after two years of subdued Chinese New Year celebrations.
Filmed at the paddy fields of Sekinchan in Selangor, Echoes Of The New Year features not only the folk arts of Hakka, Cantonese, Teochew, Hokkien and Peranakan communities, but real artefacts like the kuku kambing (traditional crowbar), millstone and porcelain plates belonging to the elderly in different communities too.
Incorporating instruments and elements like the sape, cak lempong, dragon and lion dance, Chinese opera and zithers, the music video encapsulates Malaysia’s diverse cultural heritage.
According to SunStrong Entertainment founder Jment Lim, Echoes Of The New Year serves as an effort to preserve traditional arts and culture as well as for the younger generation to familiarise themselves with traditional folk music.
“Collaborating with a creative as phenomenal as Chong, we are able to create works that showcase local folk arts to ensure they will live on. That way, the new generation will know that aside from the popular Chinese New Year songs we hear today, there’s also folk music which has been a part of our communities for centuries,” Lim said in a statement.
Among the performers featured in the video are Sung Fong Meng Cantonese Opera, Penang Teochew Puppet & Opera House, Hainanese Opera actress Mah Ah Mooi, singer Winnie Ho, Kun Seng Keng Dragon & Lion Dance Selangor, Souls Impact Percussion, Klang Pin Hwa High School Drum Team and Rithaudin Nusantara Dance.
Chong's 2020 film The Story Of Southern Islet won him Best New Director at the 57th Taipei Golden Horse Awards. The Kedah native is known for his work in preserving the country's traditional arts and culture.
He has spent 18 years documenting local oral traditions of different Chinese dialects and sharing them through various mediums.
Prior to filmmaking, Chong worked with RTM where he was duly recognised for his work when he won the Anugerah Seri Angkasa award for Best Radio DJ (Male) in 2011. He was the first Chinese radio deejay to win this award.