We live in a nation of censorship, where information is kept hidden from the eyes of the public in order to stifle its ‘bad influence’, sometimes even at the expense of necessary truth. Just this year, there are issues such as the Pangrok Sulap exhibition controversy and Lena Hendry, to name a few, are examples of such hidden truths; a hundred of voices silenced.
At the same time, we complain about the state of our film industry – filled with contrived, boilerplate storytelling. Daring to be different would only result in being shunned by the crippling problem of ‘low audience demand’ or outright societal condemnation. It is time we help to lend a voice to fellow filmmakers with noteworthy stories to tell.
Consistent with the difficult and sad state of the industry, Soon the Water Will Come is no less of a victim to the status quo. The overview of the article as is written on the campaign page is as such:
“A story revolves around the issue of “Borders and Immigration”. We follow Sulaiman, a border police who is on his rescue mission to bring back a pair of immigrant sister, age 5 and 7, as they escape from the check point and got lost in the woods. Sulaiman is alone on his mission, as his entire corrupted division voted not to get involved in this mess, because, if anything bad happen to the girls, they don’t want to be responsible.”
With this promising script, they have approached many producers. Time and time again they were rejected due to the fear of it “being banned” or they have received demands to alter things in the film. At first they were willing to comply with the latter, and were close to compromising; but the realization that the impact of the film will be destroyed struck them and they refused.
Soon the Water Will Come is an important story to tell, mostly because it portrays the hardship behind the problem of immigration from two perspectives – the migrant and the authorities.
“Most Malaysian films are stories that have been told time and time again. Yes, we’re making films about the problem, but the outcome is always an unrealistic portrayal of what actually happens. What about the films that show the ugly but realistic truth?”, said Benedict Lazaroo, the producer for the film.
The film is different. It covers institutional matters and not just highlight isolated cases for the purpose of tears and weeping.
There is also a ‘grey-ness’ to the morality that Soon the Water Will Come wants to portray. “Instead of letting the bad cops run free, they must be punished in some way so it’ll be morally correct and our film will get approve easier“. Those were the words that came from the mouth of producers who wanted to make the presence of this film possible, but Benedict remained unrelenting, arguing against the amount of impact that would be lost if those changes were made. The notion that these cops would run free is essential in showing that the problem is complicated, and that immunity among those in power is not a fairytale. It is precisely due to this obsession of being ‘morally correct’ that the realities of our society is swept under the rug. Everyone falls into an endless cycle of denial.
This is why, in a way, this film needs to exist. The message cannot be diluted by the needs of ‘industry and commerce’. Although the livelihoods of producers and profit margin are an understandable consideration, we must not let it be the death of meaningful films that could shed light upon much needed awareness. For too long the issue of immigration has been painted blindly in black and white as a battle between the “adequate enforcement of our authorities” against the “intruders at our borders or pendatang“.
Benedict Lazaroo is an aspiring ﬁlmmaker, known for the next new wave of ﬁlmmaking with works recognised on the famous Singaporean short ﬁlm platform channel Viddsee. Finalist in the prestigious BMW Shorties 2015 for incredibly well-produced, one-take short ﬁlm ‘The Cycle of Violence’ with 7 nominations, taking home awards for People’s Choice Award. Latest works as a producer were screened in the 7th Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia Malaysia 2016 and held in Kuala Lumpur, with some screened in various ﬁlm festivals in the Japan,United Kingdom, Turkey and Italy.
Benedict Lazaroo’s most esteemed work, Cycle of Violence.
At the end of the day, it’s about crafting a Malaysian’s film that’s filled with hearts, with thoughts and with ambitions. Despite its flaws, we are not living in the dark of Malaysian filmmaking. Plenty of great films have been out for the past few years of so, with the likes of Jagat and Ola Bola. But for everyone good film that manages to break into the fold, thousands more are left abandoned even when they have a powerful message to present.
As a filmmaker, Benedict has made many sacrifices so far in the pursuit of his passion and in spreading the good word. “I don’t care if I don’t get paid a salary for this film. All I want is for it to be shown in the cinemas. If it’s shown in one local cinema, I would be happy”.