Urban Geography as Pretext: Sociocultural Landscapes of Kula Lumpur in Independent Malaysian Films

Gaik Khoo

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Current independent filmmaking in Malaysia has the potential to be an alternative and viable space for creative and political expression, relative to mainstream national cinema (Malay cinema) and to the state. I focus on alternative imagery and sociocultural mappings of Kuala Lumpur in three 'indie' films. All three films contain documentary elements capturing social geographies of the city not represented in mainstream Malay cinema, or even if represented not subjected to a critical gaze by the filmmaker. The Big Durian centres on the perspectives of the city's urban middle class of all ethnicities; Bukak Api portrays the daily struggles of Malay transsexual sex workers in Chow Kit, a predominantly working-class Chinese neighbourhood and red light district; and 18? highlights the opinions of the nongovernmental organization community, bohemians, artists, anarchists and media activists mostly in the cosmopolitan suburb of Bangsar. These representations of the Malaysian urban landscape are pretexts for and politicize the national landscape through a discussion of ethnicity and race politics, sexuality, and the lack of space for freedom of creative expression and critical thinking.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)34-54
    JournalSingapore Journal of Tropical Geography
    Volume29
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2008

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