Mamat Khalid hopes to start a cinematic revolution with Apokalips X.
AFTER winning the award for Best Director at the 21st Malaysia Film Festival (FFM21) in 2008, Mamat Khalid said he was on the verge of presenting something new to local moviegoers.
“Six years ago, after winning Best Director for Kala Malam Bulan Mengambang, I told myself no more mainstream cinema. I really wanted to do something different,” said Mamat during an interview in Cyberjaya, Selangor.
In 2010, he had an idea for a film inspired by his son’s fascination with a film called Crows Zero.
“I noticed that one of my sons was wearing an outfit that looked like a Japanese student uniform. I asked him what he was wearing and he said it’s from Japanese film Crows Zero.”
He added: “I got the DVD and it’s a about a group of rebellious students. I really liked the uniform they were wearing in the film. I thought about how I can adapt the look for a Malaysian film.”
He acknowledged that the look would seem out of place in Malaysia. Eventually, he realised that the idea could still work in Malaysia but not in its current setting. “I got a script for a film with a post-apocalyptic theme and that’s when I believed that the idea could work!”
Although he wanted to film it immediately, he knew the timing was not right. Instead he helmed
Hantu Kak Limah Balik Rumah which became a box-office hit earning RM7.9mil.
All good things come to those who wait. Mamat’s long-awaited idea finally materialised with the release of Apokalips X.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world, surviving humans are divided into five rival clans. After years of fighting, the clans agree to a pact of non-violence to ensure the survival of humanity. The action–fantasy film stars Farid Kamil as X, the leader of MerahPutih clan; Jehan Miskin as Kala, leader of the Jengking Clan and Peter Davis as Sri Gala.
“Before he was cast as the lead, Farid had to compete against other actors who wanted the role as well! Acting was one thing but we really wanted actors who are physically fit for the shoot,” Mamat explained.
During two months of various fighting and stunt training, Mamat said a number of actors started dropping out even before shooting began.
“Those who remained have earned their place in the film as they have really trained hard for the part.”
The film also features Adam of Akademi Fantasia fame and Miera Leyana as a pair of star-crossed lovers. Their budding relationship becomes the catalyst for destruction as they belong to opposing clans. Ironically, love becomes the excuse for the clans to start breaking the non-violence pact.
“Yes, you can say it’s partly-inspired by Romeo And Juliet. I have always believed that a good story revolves around love. You can’t run away from love because it can be interpreted in so many ways,” Mamat added.
Other than forbidden romance, Mamat said the film is also told in Japanese-manga style.
“We want audience to feel like they are flipping through pages of a comic book. Before filming started, we had the technical crew go through a huge amount of manga for inspiration. We also use illustrations to depict scenes that we cannot show, like the decapitation of someone’s head with a samurai sword,” the director said.
Mamat hoped Apokalips X will also inspire more local filmmakers to present something other than the usual cinematic fares.
“I believe the audience can enjoy something other than the usual romantic films and horror comedies. I hope Apokalips X will be a catalyst for young filmmakers to do something out of the ordinary. As long as you believe in it, people will want to see it.”
He credited his late mother Noor Azian Said for keeping his unorthodox film ideas alive.
“Before I make a film, I ask myself, ‘Will I show this film to mum?’ No matter how weird it may be, if my mum can watch it then I will go ahead with the idea. She’s my LPF (Film Censorship Board)!” he said with a laugh.
Apokalips X is now playing in cinemas nationwide.