New movie 'MagiK' sheds light on communication issues in deaf community through fireflies


Born to normal-hearing parents, Kit hides in her soundless world, managing the pain of seeing her peers talking about school, all alone. Photo: Handout

How many times have we experienced frustration when the message we wanted to convey was lost on others?

Following this frustration is disappointment, annoyance and anger as humans genuinely desire to be understood.

Perhaps this is the same exasperation that a seven-year-old girl, who goes by the name of Kit, must endure while negotiating life in Kampung Kuantan in Kuala Selangor, known for its fireflies.

Born to normal-hearing parents, Kit hides in her soundless world, managing the pain of seeing her peers talking about school, all alone.

Kit’s mother, Fiza does everything that a mother would to lure her daughter out of her silent world by encouraging her to learn sign language.

Kit and Fiza may be characters from the imaginative world of Bea and Yasu Tanaka, a writer-director tag team whose movie magiK premieres on Nov 30, but the issues the movie underscores are real-life concerns.

At the magiK movie premiere recently, Bea told the audience that the film was their "passion project" and took about three years to complete and to be presented to local film fans.

Asked why she chose to tell a story about a deaf girl, Bea said: "My background as a teacher for the deaf for 15 years had a lot to do with it. I learnt so much from the deaf kids and community and wanted to show what I experienced with everyone and let people ‘see’ and ‘hear’ the world of the deaf as I saw it.”

She said being deaf was not a disability but a different ability because the only thing that differs is the mode of communication, which is sign language, adding that just because we do not understand them does not make them disabled.

Meanwhile, Yasu said the letter K in the movie title was capitalised to refer to the communication (komunikasi in Malay) between Kit and the fireflies in her village and among all other characters in the film.

"Every day, we are hungry to communicate, wanting to know each other better, but it is not easy to happen sometimes. The only thing we can do is to keep trying and believing.

"I hope my story will give the audience the courage to continue to try and believe whatever beliefs they have,” said Yasu, adding that magiK is a "tiny version" of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, a movie produced in 1977 that inspired him to become a film director.

magiK features acclaimed actors such as Beto Kusyairy, Nadia Aqilah, Mak Mah, Roy Azman, and a newcomer, Qisya Hairulzain, who plays Kit. – Bernama

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