AC­TRESS TAKES AIM AT DI­REC­TOR’S CHAIR

While ea­ger to have her big screen di­rec­to­rial de­but, Sharifah Amani is equip­ping her­self to be­come a great sto­ry­teller, writes BIBI NURSHUHADA RAMLI

New Straits Times - - Entertainment -

HAV­ING served as as­sis­tant di­rec­tor for Yas­min Ahmad’s 2009 award-win­ning film Talen­time, ac­tress SharA­mani’s ifah in­ter­est to sit in the di­rec­tor’s chair had been mount­ing ever since. To learn the ropes, she started small by tack­ling short films. Sharifah di­rected Sangkar, Kam­pung Bangsar and Hawa. She was also stunt as­sis­tant di­rec­tor for Yusry Ab­dul Halim’s 2011 Hikayat Merong Ma­hawangsa.

Call­ing these en­deav­ours as “prac­tice” be­fore at­tempt­ing some­thing big­ger, she said: “All this while, I’ve been busy act­ing, writ­ing, speak­ing to (those within the) in­dus­try and ob­serve their work process. That’s how I pre­pare my­self for the big league.”

Re­call­ing a con­ver­sa­tion she had with Yas­min be­fore she died, Sharifah, 30, said: “I re­mem­bered ex­press­ing to Yas­min my de­sire to di­rect a fea­ture film. She turned to me and said, ‘What do you know about life? How are you go­ing to tell a story if you don’t know what it is all about?’

“She had a point. ‘How can you tell a good story if you didn’t live it?’ So that’s what I’ve been do­ing for the past few years — liv­ing my life. Yas­min was a great sto­ry­teller. Her sto­ries touched peo­ple’s hearts, whether they were films or tele­vi­sion com­mer­cials. I hope to be­come that and more.”

The youngest re­cip­i­ent of the Best Ac­tress award at the 19th Malaysian Film Fes­ti­val in 2006, Sharifah had her big break in Yas­min’s ground-break­ing 2005 movie Sepet. She then went on to star in Yas­min’s three other films.

The daugh­ter of ac­tress Fa­timah Abu Bakar may have not em­barked on her film project yet, but one thing she is adamant about, is its theme.

“It’s got to be about hu­man­ity. Award­win­ning Amer­i­can ac­tress Vi­ola Davis once said that act­ing was the only pro­fes­sion that cel­e­brated (what it meant to live a) life. I want to pre­sent some­thing along those lines through my films.

“I have ideas that I can’t share yet, but they’re go­ing to be about a story cen­ter­ing on women’s em­pow­er­ment,” said Sharifah, who was in­spired by how Malaysian women, who in gen­eral, were men­tally strong, yet gen­tle emo­tion­ally.

“This is also the type of role that I pre­fer to take on as an ac­tress. I think our films should high­light strong, con­fi­dent and in­de­pen­dent women in their sto­ries,” she said at the launch of Asian Three-Fold Mir­ror 2016: Re­flec­tions at GSC The Gar­dens, Mid Val­ley City in Kuala Lumpur re­cently.

Asian Three-Fold Mir­ror 2016: Re­flec­tions is a se­ries of three om­nibus movies, which is part of an en­deav­our to deepen the mu­tual un­der­stand­ing as well as en­hanc­ing cul­tural ex­change among Asians.

Sharifah starred in one of the movies, ti­tled Pi­geon, di­rected by Japanese film­maker Isao Yuk­isada. She plays a care worker who de­vel­ops a warm kin­ship with an el­derly Japanese man suf­fer­ing from de­men­tia.

FILE PIC

‘Talen­time’ as­sis­tant di­rec­tor

Sharifah Amani says she plans to di­rect a movie about hu­man­ity.

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