Malaysia's First Dusun Language Film 'Sinakagon' To Premiere In 30 Cinemas On 13 June

The film was inspired by Unduk Ngadau, a traditional state-level beauty pageant held during the annual Tadau Kaamatan celebration.

Cover image via Sinakagon (Facebook) & Daniel Isaac (YouTube)

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Sinakagon, Malaysia's first Dusun-language film, will make its grand debut on 13 June in 30 cinemas nationwide

According to the Borneo Post, Sinakagon, which means "progeny" in the Dusun language, is Timothy Stephen's directorial debut and Bamboo Sound Studio's first production.

This one-of-a-kind film stars Fiona Josepher, Ejin Dinting, Lisa Christy, Esthaer Zaino, and Ron Langad, all of whom are Sabahan.

The movie’s captivating storyline beautifully blends multiple film genres, including drama, mystery, and thriller.

Internationally titled Bloodline, the movie has received accolades at various international independent film festivals

Timothy won Best First-Time Director (Feature) at the Milan Independent Awards, and Sinakagon was a finalist at the Prisma Rome Independent Film Awards.

Furthermore, the film was selected for the Official Selection at the Barcelona Indie Filmmakers Fest, where it placed fifth out of 100 films.

After seeing success overseas, the director hopes the film will be well-received by Malaysian moviegoers by the time it hits the silver screen.

Still from 'Sinakagon' trailer.

Image via Daniel Isaac (YouTube)

Timothy revealed that his team faced several issues throughout the production of the film, particularly with budget and casting

"The main challenge was the cost of making the film. We received a grant of RM200,000 from FINAS (National Film Development Corporation Malaysia) but the actual production costs were much higher," he said.

He added that casting was also difficult because many of the actors were inexperienced and did not speak Dusun fluently.

"It was hard to find (suitable) actors. They can speak Dusun but some are not fluent (in the language). Some were also acting for the first time, so we had to train them first," said Timothy.

He went on to say that production of the film began on 15 May 2021, and it was shot at various locations in Keningau, Tambunan, and Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

The year-long production process was interrupted several times due to the implementation of the movement control order (MCO).

The story was inspired by the Huminodun legend, which tells of a girl who sacrifices herself to save her village from a devastating famine caused by drought

This folk tale is intricately linked to Unduk Ngadau, a traditional state-level beauty pageant held during the annual Tadau Kaamatan (Harvest Festival) celebration.

According to CILISOS, since the first-ever Unduk Ngadau event in Penampang, Sabah, in 1960, this competition has been an annual tradition among ethnic Kadazandusun women.

They vie for the prestigious title of 'Unduk Ngadau,' derived from the Dusun phrase 'runduk tadau,' meaning 'the woman crowned by sunlight.'

The winner of this pageant is revered as the embodiment of the 'ideal' Sabahan woman, possessing not only physical beauty but also the compassion, fortitude, sharp mind, and selflessness that mirror the legendary traits of Huminodun.

Watch the trailer here:

In February, local film La Luna faced heavy criticism from writers and religious leaders for its alleged insult to Islam and promotion of soft pornography:

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