Yasmin Ahmad – Sepet AKA Chinese Eye (2004)


Because of their shared love for Wong Kar-Wai’s movies, a 19-year-old Chinese VCD seller dude and a 16-year-old Malay schoolgirl in Ipoh fall in love. She doesn’t try to convert him. Instead, they talk about films and poetry.

48th S.F. International Film Festival:
— Roger Garcia

It’s rare to find a woman filmmaker in Muslim society, and even rarer
when she is an outspoken talent unafraid of controversy. In her second
film, Yasmin Ahmad tells a story of interracial teenage love, between
Chinese Jason, a peddler of pirated videos, and Orked, a Malay schoolgirl
who likes Hong Kong movies. “Sepet” is Malay for “single eyelid” but
pejoratively it means “slit eyes.” From this provocative title the film
penetrates stereotypes of race and narrative to explore the complexities
of a multiracial society that has institutionalized the superiority of
the Malay race and Islamic religion. The film’s opening moves from Sam Hui’s
yearning Cantopop song to Jason reading Indian poet Tagore’s work in Chinese
translation to his Peranakan (mixed Malay-Chinese descendant) mother,
concisely framing the multi-Asian strands of Malaysian society and the
film—tradition and modernity, the Malay-Chinese-Indian pyramid, the purity
and impurity of culture—all set within a classic maternal metaphor. In this
context, Ahmad’s gentle and engaging tale of doomed love assumes both
political and personal dimensions. In its own subtle way, it stands as
a signal work both of the new Malaysian independent cinema and as a
heartfelt plea for tolerance.


Subtitles:English, hardsubs

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