Over the coming weeks, The Daily Seni will be reintroducing content previously missing from our databases due to system upgrades. Today, we’ve revived a brief interview with Diffan Norman, as conducted by one of The Daily Seni’s founding members, Remin Anuar, first published 16 September 2013. This version has been edited by Deric Ect.
IN conjunction with Art For Grabs held at Annexe Gallery, Malaysian short films are back with a vengeance. There will be two screening sessions scheduled for a special showcase — today at Annexe Gallery from 5.30pm until 7.30pm and tomorrow at HELP University from 8.15pm until 10.15pm.
Jointly organised by Kelab Seni Filem Malaysia, the screening will feature 11 local short films compiled by Amir Muhammad.
The confirmed lineup comprises Kekasih (Diffan Sina Norman), A Day in KL (Adib Zaini), Ketuk-ketuk Botol (Mamü Vies), Poor Carolina (Chin Yew), Pak Maon Reloaded (Rizal Gunx), Lost In The Protest (Martin Chong), Curi (Alif Ihsan Rahman), Jack Sulaiman and the Pill of Tommorrow (Gary Chong), Tousle (Aliff Zulkifli) and Springtime Nostalgia (Edmund Yeo). There will also be a brief Q & A session with the directors after the screening.
We got in touch with Diffan Sina Norman via e-mail to answer questions relating to his superbly surreal new short film Kekasih. After a stint in L. A. rubbing shoulders with Olivier Gondry at Partizan Entertainment, Diffan is back in the director’s chair once again with his twisted vision.
Though currently super-busy preparing his famously delicious burittos for tommorow’s event at HELP, Diffan spared us some quality time to respond to our questions.
Based on Kekasih‘s synopsis, central theme and promo materials, there seems to be some subtle sufi or spiritual influence throughout the film. What fascinated and attracted you to explore this theme?
Kekasih is inspired by the spirituality of love and the harmony of nature. What fascinates me most about this theme is prayer as an act of overwhelming inspiration. The presence of the divine may not conclusively reside in text but most evidently in nature’s intricacies. A melody, a tear drop, even a bag of flour.
Nasir Bilal Khan made a huge visual impact in Amuk and Perempuan, Isteri dan… In the teaser trailer to Kekasih, his performance has stirred my curiosity. What exactly did you see in Nasir’s personality that made you want to pick him as your lead actor?
Kekasih was truly blessed to have the participation of an incredible veteran. Unlike most, Nasir portrays intimacy with such revealing and abnormal intensity that almost always transcends into something beautifully vulgar. His persona on screen is captivating, and thrilling, and totally intoxicating.
It took you two days to shoot this film. What are the challenges you faced during the shoot?
Having a wonderfully experienced team was crucial to the filming of Kekasih. We were also lucky to have on board two excellent lab consultants that guided us through a working lab and its equipment. Our cinematographer Aaron Chung is always a pleasure to work with. The craft of Ella Sandera and her husband, Ahmad Katimi, was amazing to experience, and as much as we prepped ourselves with multiple tests at Spaceboy Studios, we weren’t quite ready for the weight of make up Nasir had to experience. He was truly a great sport and so was the whole crew.
Certainly you will submit Kekasih to film festivals all around the world. Which film festivals did you have in mind?
I am hopeful of submitting to few North American festivals, Rotterdam and Clermont-Ferrand. As far as being accepted, we’ll wait and see. InsyaAllah.
Your interest in animation, directing music videos and editing has surely given you a different perspective on filmmaking. Which part of the filmmaking process did you personally enjoy, and are there any plans for a feature film in the future?
It’s most fun to finish! The film took about 6 months in post and a very enjoyable part was to experience the original score by Dominic Bisignano. Seeing him work using a clarinet, a custom loop box, marimbas, percussion and a whole lot of other familiar and unfamiliar sounds was very inspiring. Hearing it in surround was sensual! I am currently developing a feature length script. InsyaAllah.