For Kuala Lumpur, I Love You, renowned local writer and director, Dain Said was appointed Cities of Love Malaysia’s City Manager. Together with his team, Dain spoke of this true labour of love at KL, I Love You’s launch.
“The Cities of Love movement is all about cultivating a critical mass of practitioners and audiences alike whose love will transform Kuala Lumpur. Embracing the differences and empowering KL-ites to take back their city,” he said.
Through the art of storytelling, KL, I Love You will positively highlight the collective experiences of our beloved city — its urban spaces, migration & movement, differences & diversity, history & memories, our fascination towards the supernatural & superstitious, stories of love & relationships, youth & young people, and money, work & trade.
“It is apt and timely that we’re hosting this launch in conjunction with the United Nations’ World Urban Forum as our nine key pillars also tie in with the UN’s New Urban Agenda. With that, we’re very proud to be holding up these pillars that will build and express our feelings and ideas through KL, I Love You,” Dain added.
One of the initiatives is to create an omnibus or compilation of films that would represent Kuala Lumpur to the world, similar to the one done of Paris, called Paris, Je t’aime. Dain Said, director of Interchange and Bunohan will be leading this endeavor as a curator.”We hope to do this in a bout 2 and a half years. The objective is to get an omnibus of films. For Paris, it was 22 films, but for Kuala Lumpur we’re just aiming for 10. The hope is for it to become sustainable, so that it continues on without us, and that more people would join us in this effort in the future.”
Kuala Lumpur’s vibrancy is still unrivaled
After the opening speech, a short film is shown called Night Lives Night Loves. Dain Said uses the azan as an inspiration – the five Muslim times of prayer express the lives of Malaysians, of all faiths, each expressing their different rituals as they share with/us the audience their daily prayers. Marking their days as episodes, moments and memories that enrich their lives. It drove us to think about other routines that make up our lives of which we stay true. “In KL, life keeps going on even at night. In fact, it’s because there are people living and working at night, our life during the day is made possible”, remarked Dain Said.
During the launch, there were also an insightful forum held by Umapagan Ampikaipakan of BFM, with the panel consisting of Lee Jia-Ping, Think City Programme Director, Bernice Chauly, author and activist, George Town Festival director Joe Sidek and Dain Said. Most of the discussion revolved around defining Kuala Lumpur with more appreciation towards its diversity and inclusivity; that we are more than just our skyscrapers and cultural archetypes.
When discussing the identity of Kuala Lumpur, the subject of us being a city (or even a country) of contradictions tend to pop up.”A love-hate relationship towards the city is normal. We all feel it. That’s what you get when you live in a city filled with contrasts. It’s about appreciating the complex relationships that we have with each other.” said Bernice Chauly, activist and author of novel, Once We Were There.
As a Penang-ite and director of George Town Festival, Joe Sidek fielded questions regarding the differences between organizing a programme in Kuala Lumpur and Penang. “Penang is a small village, everyone knows of each other and they take ownership of the space. If there are trees to be cut down, people would fight against it. They would take ownership. In Kuala Lumpur it’s a bit hard to gather everything together”. Nevertheless, Joe Sidek remains optimistic. “The people of Kuala Lumpur love Kuala Lumpur. The only problem is the relationship between all parties. Kuala Lumpur’s vibrancy is still unrivaled, even when compared to Penang.
Since Cities of Love is also about incentivizing creative people to showcase their talents, the forum also highlighted a few key concerns regarding government cooperation with regards to the arts.. When asked what was the best way to succeed as an artist, Lee Jia-Ping, Programme Director of Think City Partnerships Programme said,”I’ve been a recipient of the machinery, and there is no clear right and wrong. In the context of Malaysia, we are very grant-naive. We’re better at verbalizing our ideas about what we want rather than write ten thousands of form to help push it through. I hope in our endeavor to make this city a center for creativity, none of this gets mired by bureaucratic trap”.
The night ended with a screening of beloved feature film, “Paris, je’taime”.
In time, the initiative aims to be a self sustaining non-profit that will produce content through the KL, I Love You lens, culminating with the production of a KL, I Love You anthology film. The KL omnibus will join the other celebrated Cities of Love films like those of Shanghai (China), Berlin (Germany), Malmo (Sweden) and Rotterdam (The Netherlands).
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