The Big Durian

Ambitious, sleek-looking B&W docu examines wide array of ethnic, religious and political divisions in modern Malaysia. Clever picmaker Amir Muhammad also narrates and appears onscreen. Will make good programming at any fests favoring Asian fare or boundary-pushing docus.

With:
With: Amir Muhammad, Anne James, Farish Noor, Rashid Salleh, Nell Ng, Zaifeena Wan Nasir.

Ambitious, sleek-looking B&W docu examines wide array of ethnic, religious and political divisions in modern Malaysia. Clever picmaker Amir Muhammad, who also narrates and appears onscreen, pegs effort to October 1987 event in which a young Malay soldier, called Private Adam, shot up downtown Kuala Lumpur. Combining eyewitness accounts, talking-head observers of current life and stylistic space-fillers, such as self-referencing asides and animated segs, helmer casts net so wide he’s sure to lose some outside viewers. But “The Big Durian,” now having a Sundance bow, will make good programming at any fests favoring Asian fare or boundary-pushing docus.

Title, which refers to a large Southeast Asian tree with smelly but appetizing fruit, is applied by Malays to their capital — although the same is done by Singaporeans and Jakartans to their cities. Here, the title reps a messy tent holding natives together with Chinese, Indian and other communities, often with brief outbursts of violence. “Amok,” in fact, turns out to be a Malay word, and that concept permeates the pic, with its disorderly mix of straight-ahead chatter over-the-top visits from actors masquerading as private citizens.

The Big Durian

Malaysia

Production: A Doghouse 73 (Kuala Lumpur) production. Produced by James Lee. Executive producer, Sylvia Tan. Directed, written by Amir Muhammad.

Crew: Camera (B&W, BetaSP), Woo Ming Jin; editor, Terence Raj; music, Hardesh Singh; animation, Deepak Kumaran Menon. Reviewed on videocassette at Hawaii Film Festival (Cinema Asia), Nov. 9, 2003. (Also in Sundance Film Festival -- World Documentaries.) (Malay, Cantonese and English dialogue.) Running time: 74 MIN.

With: With: Amir Muhammad, Anne James, Farish Noor, Rashid Salleh, Nell Ng, Zaifeena Wan Nasir.

More Film

  • 'A Star Is Born' to World

    'A Star Is Born' to World Premiere at Venice Film Festival

    Ambitious, sleek-looking B&W docu examines wide array of ethnic, religious and political divisions in modern Malaysia. Clever picmaker Amir Muhammad, who also narrates and appears onscreen, pegs effort to October 1987 event in which a young Malay soldier, called Private Adam, shot up downtown Kuala Lumpur. Combining eyewitness accounts, talking-head observers of current life and […]

  • SUPER CYCLE. When Helen aka Elastigirl

    Korea Box Office: ‘Incredibles 2’ Beats ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’

    Ambitious, sleek-looking B&W docu examines wide array of ethnic, religious and political divisions in modern Malaysia. Clever picmaker Amir Muhammad, who also narrates and appears onscreen, pegs effort to October 1987 event in which a young Malay soldier, called Private Adam, shot up downtown Kuala Lumpur. Combining eyewitness accounts, talking-head observers of current life and […]

  • Bobby Robson Film Goes International With

    Bobby Robson Documentary Goes International With Dogwoof (EXCLUSIVE)

    Ambitious, sleek-looking B&W docu examines wide array of ethnic, religious and political divisions in modern Malaysia. Clever picmaker Amir Muhammad, who also narrates and appears onscreen, pegs effort to October 1987 event in which a young Malay soldier, called Private Adam, shot up downtown Kuala Lumpur. Combining eyewitness accounts, talking-head observers of current life and […]

  • No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No

    ‘Skyscraper’ Tops China Box Office With $48 Million Opening

    Ambitious, sleek-looking B&W docu examines wide array of ethnic, religious and political divisions in modern Malaysia. Clever picmaker Amir Muhammad, who also narrates and appears onscreen, pegs effort to October 1987 event in which a young Malay soldier, called Private Adam, shot up downtown Kuala Lumpur. Combining eyewitness accounts, talking-head observers of current life and […]

  • ABBA performing as an unknown band

    The Secret Majesty of ABBA: They Were the Feminine Pop Opera of Their Time

    Ambitious, sleek-looking B&W docu examines wide array of ethnic, religious and political divisions in modern Malaysia. Clever picmaker Amir Muhammad, who also narrates and appears onscreen, pegs effort to October 1987 event in which a young Malay soldier, called Private Adam, shot up downtown Kuala Lumpur. Combining eyewitness accounts, talking-head observers of current life and […]

  • Dwayne Johnson's 'Skyscraper' Leads China Box

    China Box Office Propels 'Skyscraper' to $75 Million Overseas

    Ambitious, sleek-looking B&W docu examines wide array of ethnic, religious and political divisions in modern Malaysia. Clever picmaker Amir Muhammad, who also narrates and appears onscreen, pegs effort to October 1987 event in which a young Malay soldier, called Private Adam, shot up downtown Kuala Lumpur. Combining eyewitness accounts, talking-head observers of current life and […]

  • No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No

    Box Office: 'Equalizer 2' Narrowly Edges Past 'Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again' to Land at No. 1

    Ambitious, sleek-looking B&W docu examines wide array of ethnic, religious and political divisions in modern Malaysia. Clever picmaker Amir Muhammad, who also narrates and appears onscreen, pegs effort to October 1987 event in which a young Malay soldier, called Private Adam, shot up downtown Kuala Lumpur. Combining eyewitness accounts, talking-head observers of current life and […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content