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The Last Communist

Humor, humanism and sleight of hand are blended to create something out of virtually nothing in helmer Amir Muhammad's shoestring docu "The Last Communist." A kind of bio of Chin Peng, pic eschews interviews with or archive footage of its subject, instead opting for catchy songs and chatty vox pops with those who have inhabited Chin's world.

Humor, humanism and sleight of hand are blended to create something out of virtually nothing in helmer Amir Muhammad’s shoestring docu “The Last Communist.” A kind of bio of Chin Peng, the exiled leader of the banned Communist Party of Malaya, pic eschews interviews with or archive footage of its subject, instead opting for catchy songs and chatty vox pops with those who have inhabited Chin’s world. Fests with a political bent will snap this up

Chronologically charting Chin’s life, pic begins by interviewing a street vendor who lives in Sitiawan, the town where Chin was raised and follows suit with other “non-entities” such as rubber tree workers. With moments divulging Chin’s rise as a thorn in the side of the Japanese, the British and Malay government, the historical is smartly juxtaposed with the environment that spawned it. Helmer spices the mix with pop songs containing propagandist lyrics. One number parodying the multiculturalism of Malaysian tourism advertisements is particularly amusing. Tech credits are poverty row, but content is as rich as can be.

The Last Communist

Malaysia

Production: A Red Films production. (International sales: Red Films, Petaling Jaya.) Produced by Amir Muhammad. Co-producers, Naeim Ghalili, Dhojee. Directed, screenplay by Amir Muhammad.

Crew: Camera (color MiniDV to DigiBeta), Albert Hue; editor, Azharr Rudin; music, Hardesh Singh with lyrics by Jerome Kugan; production designer. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival Film Festival (Forum), Feb. 15, 2006. Original title: Lelaki komunis terakhir. Running time: 90 MIN. (Malay, Cantonese, Hokkien, English, Tamil dialogue)

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