This July, the Center for Southeast Asian Studies remembers Malaysian filmmaker, storyteller, and humanitarian Yasmin Ahmad.
[Source: malaysiana1] Yasmin Ahmad (January 07, 1958 – July 25, 2009) was a critically-acclaimed multi-award winning film director, writer and scriptwriter from Malaysia and was also the executive creative director at Leo Burnett Kuala Lumpur.
Her television commercials and films are well-known in Malaysia for their humour, heart and love that cross cultural barriers, in particular her ads for Petronas, the national oil and gas company.
Her works have won multiple awards both within Malaysia and internationally.
A graduate in arts majoring in psychology from Newcastle University, she worked as a trainee banker in 1982 for two weeks.
She then joined IBM as a marketing representative.
Yasmin began her career in advertising as a copywriter at Ogilvy & Mather in the same period.
In 1993 she moved to Leo Burnett as creative director and eventually became executive creative director.
Her first film was Rabun (Failing Sight) in 2002.
Yasmin’s films have won many international awards and praise from critics and public alike.
Most of her films have been screened at the Berlin, San Francisco, Singapore and Cannes international film festivals.
Her films were featured in a special retrospective at the 19th Tokyo International Film Festival 2006.
They were also featured in a 2007 retrospective by the Centre of Southeast Asian Studies, University of Hawaii, and the Honolulu Academy of Arts.
Yasmin passed away of a stroke at 11.25pm on July 25, 2009.
She fell unconscious in her chair at 3.30pm on July 23 at private television station TV3 in Petaling Jaya.
At that time she was having a meeting with the TV3 management and Malaysian pop queen Datuk Siti Nurhaliza Tarudin for a coming project.
Yasmin was hospitalised at the Damansara Specialist Hospital a short distance from TV3 and underwent neurosurgery on the same day.
She never regained consciousness.
She was buried in Subang Jaya, where she lived.
Yasmin made six films in her short but illustrious career.
She won several awards for her television commercials that promoted national unity and humanitarian values, in Malaysia and Singapore.
Sepet won best film in the Malaysian Film Festival 2005. Gubra won best film the following year.
Sepet also won the Asian Film Award at the Tokyo International Film Festival 2005.
Mukhsin won Best Feature Film at the Berlin International Film Festival 2007 and Best Asean (Southeast Asian) Film at the Cinemanila International Film Festival 2007.
Muallaf won the Asian Film Award – Special Mention at the Tokyo International Film Festival 2008.
Yasmin was the eldest of three siblings from Muar, Johor. She was of Malay and Japanese ancestry.
She is survived by her parents, a brother and a sister, and her husband Tan Yew Leong, the creative director of Leo Burnett.