Losing a parent at a young age is a traumatic experience for any child, especially if the child is old enough to understand the gravity of the situation.
For 31-year-old fledgling director, Jacky Yeap, losing his mother at the tender age of five affected him deeply.
Despite this early tragedy in life, he has taken inspiration from the pain of loss to share his life experiences on the big screen.
And at the 23rd Shanghai International Film Festival in 2020, Yeap’s first feature film, “Sometime, Sometime” was nominated for an Asian New Talent Award.
In November that same year, the film was also screened at the 57th Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival, which highlights the best Chinese language films from around the world.
Both features were quite the achievements for the young Malaysian director, who had made the 107-minute-long film on a relatively small budget of RM200,000.
The film would have likely played on Malaysian silver screens shortly after, if the pandemic had not struck then and shuttered theatres.
Now that moviegoers are back in their seats, Yeap finally has the chance to see his film play on the big screen here.
FMT Lifestyle enjoyed a sneak peek of the film and so, here’s what this slice-of-life story is all about.
The film follows Zi Kien (Yeap), a 17-year-old on the cusp of adulthood who has a complicated relationship with his single mother Ah Lin (Tan Chui Mui).
When Ah Lin starts meeting up with Uncle (Loh Kok Man), Zi Kien begins to fear the possibility of losing his mother to this new stranger.
So, like a typical teen who acts out, his attitude towards his mother turns ugly. She in turn becomes exasperated with her son. However, despite the fiery arguments and cold wars that ensue, their bond remains strong.
That’s the plot. But what about the execution? Before the film preview, Yeap admitted publicly that his film was not exactly “professionally made”.
“It’s not going to be as good as ‘Hungry Ghost Diner’,” he said humbly, referring to the award-winning Chinese Malaysian film currently playing in theatres.
And it’s plain to see what he means by this – the film does feel amateurish at times.
In terms of filmography, it seems almost clumsy, with the camera noticeably unsteady as it follows characters around.
There are also times when it feels like some scenes are in dire need of editing, with lingering shots lasting for far longer than necessary.
Is this a sloppy film, then? Well, yes, but no. Honestly, it’s likely that the sloppiness was a deliberate choice as the story is told from Zi Kien’s perspective.
As it happens, Zi Kien is an aspiring video maker who, at one point, acquires a digital camera to make a short documentary.
The audience is actually treated to the documentary mid-film, and just like “Sometime, Sometime”, the documentary bears the features of a teen filmmaker’s first movie.
That documentary is probably the most laugh-worthy part of the entire film, given how many Malaysians will likely still remember how they used to scour for royalty-free music for their college projects.
Technical aspects aside, the film also displays strong acting from the director-actor as well as his fellow castmates.
It should be mentioned that co-star Tan Chui Mui is a renowned Malaysian director in her own right and Yeap received much guidance from her before and during the filming process.
In fact, it was her support which drove Yeap onwards with his project. “The reason I started making this feature film is because Tan believed I could do it,” he said.
The mother-and-son relationship depicted in the film feels very real, with the ups and downs that are inherent with any relationship.
As any child of a single parent would tell you, the possibility of having a stepparent introduced into one’s life can cause undue tension.
“Sometime, Sometime” is a film that is certainly unusual given how it presents itself, but it’s still a commendable project by an ambitious young man.
In a time when Malaysian filmmakers are getting their just dues, it is good to see the country still has potential for filmmaking greats.
“Sometime, Sometime” is slated for release on Aug 24 at GSC Mid Valley, TGV 1 Shamelin, TGV Cheras Selatan, GSC Plaza Gurney, TGV AEON Taiping, & LFS Kampar.