Filmmaker Diffan Sina Norman’s short film gets international exposure.
DIRECTOR Diffan Sina Norman’s short film – Kekasih – is the latest Malaysian submission to be shortlisted in the Sundance Film Festival.
“I didn’t expect it at all. I’m incredibly thrilled and delighted. I actually got the news about a month ago and I’ve been dying to share it with everyone,” Diffan, 30, said following an announcement by the film festival last night.
(Amir Muhammad was the first Malaysian to have his work be part of Sundance when his film, The Big Durian, was included in the festival's "World Documentary" section back in 2004.)
Kekasih is among 66 short films which has been selected from this year’s pool of 8,161 submissions in the short film category.
The nine-minute project, which boasts a cast of versatile actors including Nasir Bilal Khan and Fauziah Nawi, tells the tale of a botanical professor trying to come to terms with the death of his wife. The professor extracts the remains of his late wife and in doing so, encounters a divine presence.
“The story is actually inspired by the relationship between the bird and the flower, a symbol that is prevalent in Iranian culture,” explained Diffan who is half Iranian. “The bird needs to sing to the flower for it to blossom and the flower will only blossom to a singing bird. It is this symbiotic relationship that the short film is trying to explore.”
The director added that Kekasih holds a special meaning to him. “After my father’s passing in 2011, I went to clear out his office and found a copy of my script of Kekasih on his desk,” he shared. “Before his death, I would always discuss the script with my dad and he would give his advice.”
The short film, which took around six months to produce, is Diffan’s first submission to the film festival. However, he has also made some waves with his other short film, Wanita Cosmos, way back in 2004. He left for the United States shortly after that and took up a job at a commercial production company specialising in animation and production, putting his directorial dreams in the backseat.
Diffan returned to Malaysia in 2011 and continued directing again, with works including a music video for singer MizzNina. The video, entitled With You, took home the best music video award at last year’s Shout! Awards.
Diffan is currently based in both Kuala Lumpur and Los Angeles as a freelance director and designer.
“It was something (my father) has always encouraged me to do – to get back into filmmaking and tell stories. I think he would have been very proud,” he said, dedicating the short film to his father.
For more on Kekasih, visit kekasihthefilm.com.