KUALA LUMPUR: They say you can’t keep a good film down. This rings true of Yasmin Ahmad’s hit movie Sepet, which continued its winning streak at the 18th Tokyo International Film Festival.
Sepet won the Best Asian Film Award in the Winds of Asia section of the festival which concluded on Sunday. It beat Singapore’s Be With Me, which received a Special Mention and was also the opening film for this year’s Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes.
Other films which competed in the section included Hong Kong’s Everlasting Regret and All About Love, India’s Chandramukhi, Indonesia’s Janji Joni and Of Love and Eggs, Thailand’s Citizen Dog and Malaysia’s Monday Morning Glory and Gol & Gincu.
“I’m just so happy Sepet won,” said Yasmin in a telephone interview from Bali, where she is on holiday.
“I could not sleep all night. This is the biggest award for Sepet so far.”
The film had previously won five other best film awards: at the Ninth Malaysian Video Awards, the 27th Creteil International Women Directors Festival in France, the 18th Malaysian Film Festival, the Global Chinese Golden Arts Awards and the Anugerah Era 2005.
Yasmin said she could not attend the Tokyo festival as she had to act in Ho Yuhang’s film Rain Dogs, which is currently in production.
Singer-songwriter Pete Teo had SMSed her that Sepet had won but she brushed it off as a prank.
It was only when a journalist friend of hers also told her the same thing that she believed it.
Asked what the victory meant to her personally, since Sepet had brought her glory as well as controversy and criticism, Yasmin replied: “I feel vindicated. When it won Best Film at the Malaysian Film Festival, some said it didn’t deserve to win.”
She added that everyone should celebrate together whenever a Malaysian film won internationally, but unfortunately, there are always a few “bitter souls back home.”
Her next film, Gubra, the sequel to Sepet, is tentatively scheduled for local release in March.