Malaysian films ‘Nota’ and ‘Girlfriend Kontrak’ to see 2015 releases

By Jude Toyat


The ASEAN International Film Festival and Awards (AIFFA) is more than just a film festival; it offers opportunities for filmmakers from all ten ASEAN countries to come and shoot their films against the backdrop of Sarawak’s beautiful and picturesque landscape.

According to a Japanese scriptwriter and film director Yasu Tanaka, his visit to Sarawak during the first AIFFA held in 2013 sparked his interest to produce his film entitled ‘Nota’ (Note).

“Sarawak is a really beautiful place. We did our shooting here in Bako National Park in 2013 when we came for the first AIFFA, and were amazed by its natural environment here which cannot be found in Japan or any other places in the world.


Yasu Tanaka talks about 'Nota' as his producer wife Bea looks on.

Yasu Tanaka talks about ‘Nota’ as his producer wife Bea looks on.


“‘Nota’ showcases the beautiful nature at Bako National Park and also the customs of the people in Sarawak. It will expose Sarawak as a whole to the world and Bako National Park as a tourist destination. We hope that there will be more films shot there as the scenery and beauty of Sarawak cannot be duplicated elsewhere,” he said during a press conference held at the Sarawak Tourism Complex on April 10.

‘Nota’ is about a couple facing a midlife crisis after prolonged lack of real communication, caused by years of failure at trying to have a baby. For their 10th year anniversary, they decide to have a trip to Bako National Park where they travelled to 10 years ago to reignite their bond of love and marriage.

The psychological thriller was shot almost wholly in Sarawak with only three days in Kuala Lumpur and 26 shooting days spent at the Bako National Park. The main cast includes notable Malaysian actors and actresses like Maya Karin, Hans Isaac, Ramli Hassan and Japanese actress Rin Izumi.


Datuk Ik Pahon (centre) with Livan Tajang (left) and Jaffri Amin.

Datu Ik Pahon Joyik (centre) with Livan Tajang (left) and Aiffa director Jaffri Amin.


It was produced in 2014 by 42nd Pictures Sdn Bhd, a Kuala Lumpur-based production company and its first theatrical release will be in August this year.

It is hoped that such films will continue to project Sarawak in establishing a long-term relationship with other countries in the ASEAN region and elsewhere on the film industry and more films to be shot here in the future.

“The interesting highlight of ‘Nota’ is that it will be going for a screening at the Marchu du Film 2015 this May 13. As one of the objectives of AIFFA, having filmmakers come and shoot their films here means a lot to us as it brings good exposure and at the same time helping to promote Sarawak as a tourism destination,” said AIFFA festival director Livan Tajang.


Virginia Kennedy, director of 'Girlfriend Kontrak'.

Virginia Kennedy, director of ‘Girlfriend Kontrak’.


For Virginia Kennedy, the film director and screenwriter for romantic comedy entitled ‘Girlfriend Kontrak’ presented by Primeworks Studios, this is not her first visit to Sarawak.

“I came to Sarawak before to direct a film called ‘Pua’. It is a film relating to the Pua Kumbu, cloths of the Iban community to a tale of the search for love and independence in a distant but clear Iban past. It won the award for Best Short Film Documentary at the 50th Asia Pacific Film Festival in 2005.

“I have always loved the experience of filming films here, and I just love the Kuching city. It is so adorable and everybody welcomes me with warmth and continuous smiles. The latest film shot here is charming and sweet, just like what Sarawak is all about,” she said.


(from left) Yasu Tanaka, Bea Tanaka, Livan Tajang, Datuk Ik Pahon, Jaffri Amin and Virginia Kennedy.

(from left) Yasu Tanaka, Bea Tanaka, Livan Tajang, Datu Ik Pahon Joyik, Jaffri Amin and Virginia Kennedy.


Her latest film, “Girlfriend Kontrak” is a film about a simple village girl, Aliza, who is on a mission to save her beloved fireflies from being destroyed by a development project owned by a ruthless millionaire playboy, who ends up hiring Aliza to be her ‘contract girlfriend’.

Girlfriend Kontrak is a joint production by Grand Brilliance and Independent Pictures and stars popular actors like Keith Foo and Nur Risteena. This first feature film directed by Virginia will be released in theatres this July.

Also present during the press conference were Sarawak Ministry of Tourism permanent secretary Datuk Ik Pahon and AIFFA director Jaffri Amin.

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