Tun M's Granddaughter Shares How She Was "Never On The Same Page With Him Politically"
Ineza Roussille is a filmmaker behind 'M for Malaysia', a documentary on the 14th General Election (GE14) released a year after the historic election.
She is also the granddaughter of the documentary's main subject, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Inspired by her mother Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir's human rights activism, she pursued documentary filmmaking to help local non-governmental organisations.
However, Ineza was reluctant when her mother asked her to direct a political documentary about the 93-year-old premier
"Partly because I didn't want to be that close to the political machine and be seen to lose all objectivity, and also partly because I treasure my relative anonymity and I knew being by his side on the campaign, I would be a lot more exposed than I'm usually comfortable with," she told South China Morning Post.
Ineza revealed that she has consciously avoided working on political subjects, as she was "never really on the same page with [Mahathir] politically".
"I don't agree with some of the things he did," she said.
She recalled being 11 years old and seeing one of Anwar Ibrahim's daughters crying at their school after he was fired as deputy premier by Mahathir.
"I didn't go through anything like what Anwar's kids suffered, but when 1998 happened, it was a weirdly messy time," Ineza said.
She said that students "would say horrible things every day" and some teachers stopped talking to her altogether.
In a statement accompanying the recent release of 'M for Malaysia', the 32-year-old admitted that she was "not happy" to find out that her grandfather was running to become prime minister for a second time.
"I felt it was the wrong direction for the country," the filmmaker said.
Despite the fact that her views have not always aligned with her grandfather's, Ineza said that shadowing Mahathir for the documentary changed her perspective
She witnessed Mahathir work relentlessly while campaigning, and her grandmother, Dr Siti Hasmah Ali, be by her husband's side throughout the process.
"To be able to see my grandfather working day in and day out, how he carried himself, how concerned he was with everything that was happening, and how he was determined to make it all right again, I couldn't help but admire that," she wrote.
"Politics have become more personal. When people attack him, it sucks. If he says something I don't agree with, it sucks as well, because this time I care," Ineza added.
According to Ineza, the crew did not know what to do with the footage until Pakatan Harapan won on 9 May.
"That was when we decided to turn the 90 hours of footage into a proper film," she said.
"Prior to that, we were simply there to record," Ineza revealed.
The documentary was primarily shot over 11 days prior to GE14, and was a joint effort between Roussille and co-director Dian Lee, daughter of business tycoon and close associate to Mahathir, Lee Kim Yew.
Lee is also critical of Mahathir's previous term in office.
"I had a different opinion and viewpoint about Mahathir. I believed he was responsible for the sorry state of our country. In his quest to take Malaysia into a developed country status, he had removed the necessary checks and balances for the country," she said in her director's statement.
"I hope we've been objective enough that all Malaysians can be proud watching this documentary and the new Malaysian government will remember that power is ultimately with the people," Ineza wrote.
The co-directors conducted follow-up interviews with key players, both supporters and critics, to create a coherent narrative based on the theme of reconciliation
Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail spoke about her painful experiences in 1998, such as being told that her husband had passed away, and Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng shared about his arrest during Operation Lalang in 1986.
Since he was still in prison before GE14, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was not featured in the film. Meanwhile, former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak declined to be interviewed.
The film will be screened at CAAMFEST 2019 in the United States on 15 May, and DOC EDGE 2019 in New Zealand in May and June.