Malaysian Creator's Animated Short Film Bags Acclaimed Accolades In New York & Norway

The film has won an award at the New York International Film Festival, and the Sea of Art Award thus far, with multiple other nominations still pending.

Cover image via Walinong Sari - Short Animated Film

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A Malaysian-made animated short film has been shortlisted to screen and compete at numerous film festivals around the world for 2022

According to their official Facebook page, animated short Walinong Sari (2022) has been turning heads since its debut on 6 July. Among the festivals it was said to premiere at include:

1. New York International Short Film Festival
2. Sea of Art Film Festival
3. Los Angeles International Film Festival (Indie Shorts)
4. ONIROS Film Awards New York

Official poster of Walinong Sari (2022).

Image via Eugene Foo (Provided to SAYS)

Since its release, the film has achieved immense success, winning Best Soundtrack at the New York International Film Festival, and the Sea of Art award as well.

With more award shows progressing in time, it'll be a joy to see if Walinong Sari (2022) picks up more accolades along the way.

Based on 16th century folklore, Walinong Sari (2022) tells the story about a Pahang princess who was deemed the finest warrior of her generation

As a brief overview, the short film illustrates an artful Walinong Sari defeat all eligible suitors for her hand in marriage. Unbeknownst to her initially, her father, Raja Bendahara, accepts a proposal from the Bendahara of Melaka to marry her. Frustrated, Walinong Sari comes to accept her fate and requests for a final trip down the Pahang River before she is to wed.

On her journey, the princess experiences a series of events that end up changing the course of her life, forever.

Director of the animated short, Eugene Foo, was candid and forthright in exemplifying the hard work and dedication of his team in creating the feature

An academician and lecturer for the Faculty of Creative Industries at UTAR, Foo has been an active contributor to the world of digital animation and illustration for the past 20 years. Expounding on his multimedia talents, Foo spread his capabilities out into the areas of storytelling and illustration, which eventually brought him to the conceptualisation of Walinong Sari (2022).

Giving praise to all that made the film possible, Foo specifically mentioned his scriptwriter, Honey Ahmad, for coming across the story in a book by Ninot Aziz titled, Lipur Lara Nusantara. After finding out details about Foo's animated short, Aziz herself signed on as the researcher and folklorist for the film.

Foo with designs and outlines of the animated film.

Image via Walinong Sari - Short Animated Film (Facebook)

Gathering an ensemble cast, Foo was forthright in discussing how social media was a big tool in helping to develop the feature, as they are not a studio or an animation company.

"In the midst of a pandemic, I was trying to put together an animation team to create this film," he said in a webinar discussing the film last week. 

"We ended up assembling a group of artists and animators consisting of, mainly, my students and freelancers. We were an underdog team in terms of producing animation locally." Among some of the notable faces who voiced character in the film included Malaysian actress Nadia Aqilah, and Malaysian actors Bront Palarae and Tony Eusoff.

Aside from the voice-recording aspect, Foo stated that the entire film was made from home. "It kept all of us going through those long days of isolation," said scriptwriter Honey Ahmad.

Some of the voice actors for Walinong Sari (2022).

Image via Walinong Sari - Short Animated Film (Facebook)

Foo also mentioned how a lot of work went into refining the materials they had, to ensure that certain historical elements remained based in fact

Taking inspiration from the mechanisms used in creating Wayang Kulit, Foo expressed how puppeteering was a key production feature for the character's movement. Nonetheless, Foo was open about the advantages they had in changing the facial expressions and poses of characters with relative ease, as it was a digital creation after all (in comparison to the physical puppets in Wayang Kulit).

While Foo alluded to minor details of the story in the film being changed for creative expression, he stated that they needed to represent multiple aspects of culture and politics in reality of that era.

"It is so important that we, as writers, continue to retell, rewrite, and curate our folklores so that the best in our creative industries can bring them to another level," said Ninot Aziz.

While the 28-minute feature has yet to be released to the public due to its multiple award nominations, Foo will be seeking out screening options in time to come

For all the updates on this established and celebrated short film, visit the official Walinong Sari (2022) Facebook page.

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