The Star
Variety News

‘Hawa’: Zombie flick with a lesson for Malaysia


Published: January 9, 2017


The 13-minute short film, which won the 2016 BMW Shorties’ grand prize, tells the story of Hawa, a girl locked in her room after being infected by a zombie bite, and a carefree boy Meng as they struggle to forge a friendship.

PETALING JAYA, Jan 9 — On the surface, Hawa appears to be a tale about a zombie apocalypse in Malaysia.

But after watching the prize-winning short film, you will realise it is also a story about people overcoming their differences to come together.

“In that particular world, everyone is the same... the difference is whether you have been infected or not,” said director Tan Ce Ding.

“And what changes Hawa when everything inside her has given up is when she meets the boy (Meng)... it sparks the passion, triggers the humanity within her,” he told Malay Mail Online in a recent interview.

The 13-minute short film, which won the 2016 BMW Shorties’ grand prize, tells the story of Hawa, a girl locked in her room after being infected by a zombie bite, and a carefree boy Meng as they struggle to forge a friendship.

“On one layer, these two characters can never be together, from the opening scene the girl is inside and the boy is outside, along the story somehow they manage to be together but in the end the girl is back inside and the boy is outside again.

“What separates them is the disease. In another way, we can link it with our society,” he said.


The cast and crew of ‘Hawa’ pose for a wrap photo. — Picture courtesy of Edward Lim

The film’s producer Edward Lim said it was named after the main actress herself, Hawa Khadeeja, after they found out the meaning of Hawa or Eve.

“Because of how separated they (Hawa and Meng) are, like Adam and Eve, that’s why we decided to call it Eve, or Hawa,” he said.

He added that the most powerful part of the short film is when Hawa looks in the mirror and acts like a zombie the acceptance that she cannot change her fate.

“If there is one particular message, I would personally say if only we are all kids, in a post apocalyptic world, it doesn’t matter who we are as long as we survive together,” Lim said.

Lim added that it took them half a year to develop the story, and to figure out the characters’ psychological and emotional aspects.

“One of the challenges was to find the right actors we didn’t think about Chinese or Malay characters. It was just about two neighbourhood kids who want to be friends.

“When we did the casting, we didn’t specify any race, we just wanted good actors and it turned out the actors that we cast were the perfect fit, a Malay girl and a Chinese boy,” he said.

Moving forward, Tan and Lim said they are trying to bring Hawa to the international stage via film festivals.

Apart from the BMW Shorties Grand Prize, Hawa also won in the Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Sound Design categories.

Hawa can be viewed on http://www.bmwshorties.com.my


Lights, Camera, Action!


Winning the top prize at BMW Shorties was a huge motivation for Tan

In 2006, BMW Group Malaysia introduced a new cultural initiative that would provide local amateur filmmakers a platform to express their creativity and celluloid genius. To date, its popular short film competition called BMW Shorties has received more than 750 entries, many of which have since been screened at prestigious international film festivals in Cannes, New York, Rotterdam, Oberhausen, Rome and Clermont-Ferrand.

“BMW Shorties has journeyed a remarkable distance since it first undertook the task of providing a platform for aspiring Malaysian film enthusiasts to realise their potential,” said Han San Yung, managing director and CEO of BMW Group Malaysia.

“As a premium brand which understands the importance of cultural pursuits like filmmaking to a generation, the BMW Group is extremely humbled by the response we have recorded and the impact we have rendered in the local film industry through BMW Shorties. Having received over 600 short film entries and launched countless film talent into full-fledged careers, the BMW Shorties is honoured to have helped Malaysia build a bold legacy in filmmaking.”

Sashi Ambi, head of corporate communications of BMW Group Malaysia, notes that it has been a humbling experience for BMW Group Malaysia to be able to share the passion, commitment and talent of its filmmakers with fellow Malaysians. “Our themes also reflect the success this initiative continues to enjoy.”

Top prize winners of BMW Shorties receive a generous production grant of RM75,000 for their next work. Apart from the director, other talents are also recognised with awards for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Editing and Best Sound Design as well as a People’s Choice Award.

The winner of the 2016 edition was Tan Ce Ding, whose short film Hawa tapped into the sci-fi genre, uncovering the relationship between humans and robots in a futuristic Malaysia. He continues this theme in his recently premiered film, The Masseuse.

Graduating from Sunway University with a diploma in performing arts and media, Tan first began his career as a production assistant, quickly advancing to assistant director and eventually sitting in the director’s chair for numerous commercials.

Currently a film director at Naga DDB Tribal, he has won two Kancil Awards and also directed many independent short films including Thanks for Saving Me, We Were the Best and Da Capo. “When my team and I won, we immediately saw an opportunity to explore another angle for the sci-fi genre and further expand on the elements of the possible society of Malaysia in the future,” says Tan who has sent in entries to BMW Shorties since 2010 and was a Top 10 finalist five times. “That was how Hawa came to be. The Masseuse was an interesting project as we had the chance to think about how robots and humans could interact in Kuala Lumpur.”

Set in the future, The Masseuse is a surprisingly moving sci-fi love story between a humanoid masseuse and her technician who has a dark and disturbing past and an indisposed agenda. The film centres on the relationship between robots and humans in the future, and their roles in a developed society.


A scene from The Masseuse

Tan reveals he has always wanted to make a sci-fi film set in the near future. “Hawa was set in a post-apocalyptic world of zombies but The Masseuse is in a way more scientific. We also thought it would be cool to retain retro and contemporary elements, with a mixture of technology and sci-fi elements to build the story.”

At the end of the day, what is most important is the human factor. “We wanted to draw out human elements from both the human and the droid. The latter is not fully robotic so she has a human touch and even some human thoughts.”

Inspiration was his appreciation for sci-fi stories. “I’ve always been a person who aims to bring a story depicting normal humans facing abnormal adversities on screen. Even in Hawa, the concept was to show how normal Malaysian children would possibly live and react when faced with challenges in the future. In The Masseuse, I wanted to explore the emotional elements of humans and robots with the themes of love, hate, happiness, sadness and reluctance.”

The recent premiere was very timely, with moviegoers still reeling from the recent release of the similarly themed Blade Runner 2049.

“Blade Runner was definitely one of the films that inspired me, as did the Star Wars and Alien franchises, movies from the Seventies through to the Nineties, which was the golden era of science fiction in cinema,” he notes. “We used Blade Runner as our reference for some scenes – and (Hong Kong auteur) Wong Kar Wai films as well. It was quite cool to have these elements mixed together.”

His favourite directors include the aforementioned Wong, Ridley Scott (the director of the first Blade Runner), the Coen brothers, Steven Spielberg and Ang Lee. “For me, filmmaking is always down to two parts: The story and the human emotions.”

“When you look at films by Scott, Spielberg and JJ Abrams, although they are set in a sci-fi world where everything is very futuristic with a lot of visual effects, the core value always goes back to mankind and human relationships. That’s what we wanted to explore.”

To further enrich knowledge of his craft, Tan watches plenty of independent movies from the West and the East. “That’s something we can achieve in terms of practicality. Sundance Festival films set in an ordinary world but injected with scientific elements, and TV shows like Black Mirror.”

In terms of Malaysian filmmakers, Tan is a huge fan of the late Yasmin Ahmad. “What I admire most about Yasmin was the whole genre she set up. Everyone followed her lead in heart-warming commercials and moving family stories. She was the first to move in that direction.”

He also cites Ho Yuhang, Tan Chui Mui and James Lee as pioneers of independent filmmaking in Malaysia. “I really admire how, in their early days, they could make feature films with probably just a three-man crew: a director, a cameraman and an actor. There was nothing fancy – everything was distilled to the story itself and those films won awards around the world. That’s inspiring.”

Tan has learned from experience the importance of working with the right mind set. “For years, we just wanted to win. Whatever we tried to structure or craft were specifically to win BMW Shorties,” he recalls. “Looking back, it limited our creativity in a way. For Hawa, we didn’t have the same intention. We had a story but not done specifically for BMW Shorties. It was only later that we thought it might suit the competition and we submitted it. I believe the change of mentality played a part in us finally winning.”

“Besides creativity, filmmaking is about communication. Even if you had the greatest vision, if you can’t communicate with your team, they won’t be able to help you execute what’s in your mind.”

Then there is the filmmaker’s ability to tell a story. “Often we have very good ideas but when we put them on paper and then translate the words into visuals, the process could change a lot of things. As a filmmaker, you need to have the ability to translate what’s in your head from its original concept all the way to the final outcome.”

He believes BMW Shorties does play an important role in shaping the local film industry. “It’s the biggest and longest-running short film competition in Malaysia. Look at the filmmakers they have unearthed: Quek Shio Chuan, Chua Dick Woei, Shanjhey Kumar and Brandon Loh. They all have very successful careers now.”

According to Tan, this platform was perhaps even more important back when the internet was not as advanced as it is today. “It was, and still is, a great way for young filmmakers to showcase their work. The funding will help them to shape a well-crafted film and push them to an international level.”

He plans to turn Hawa and The Masseuse into full-length feature films. “I’m already developing the script for Hawa but I expect it to be a long journey.”

But one that he is more than happy to take.

‘Hawa’ short film wins BMW Shorties 2016 grand prize


Published: December 20, 2016


Director of 'Hawa', Tan Ce Ding (sixth from left) and his team pose for cameras after winning the BMW Shorties 2016 Grand Prize. — Picture by Melati A. Jalil

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 19 — A short film about a friendship between a girl infected by a zombie bite and a carefree boy in a post-apocalyptic zombie-plagued Malaysia, Hawa, has emerged victorious in the BMW Shorties 2016, Malaysia’s longest running short film competition.

Apart from the Grand Prize Winner, the short film directed by 25-year-old Tan Ce Ding also took home the awards for Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Sound Design.

Tan, who participated in the competition since 2010, said the symbolism of zombie outbreak used in Hawa could be interpreted as anything that threatened the bond between individuals.

“When the theme Journey was announced, we decided to pursue a short film which not only entertains but also shares the journey human relationships undergo, the threats it faces and its persistence to triumph in spite of.

“Just like the zombie pandemic which came between Hawa and Meng, ill-conceived ideas are like diseases infecting our society, posing risks to human relationships conceived out of goodwill,” he said, referring to the two main characters of Hawa.

Besides highlighting about the frailty of human relationships, Tan and his team wanted to remind the audience to appreciate and fight for the humanity within them.

“Inherently, we seek to bond with one another in spite of social issues threatening to separate us. And in the short film, we see just that in the persevering friendship between Hawa and Meng,” he said.

Tan will receive a production grant of RM 75,000 from BMW Group Malaysia, alongside guidance and mentorship from the panel of judges to produce his next professional short film. He has been placed in the Top 10 Finalist five times but has never won the competition until now.

BMW Group Malaysia managing director Han Sang Yun said the tenth edition of BMW Shorties has set a new milestone in proving that there is an abundance of film making potential in Malaysia.

“The BMW Shorties has coursed a great distance in discovering and supporting local filmmaking potential in Malaysia since we started a decade ago.

“Today, we are proud to have found and helped raise so many promising talent who have gone on to create value and a legacy in the Malaysian filmmaking and advertising industry,” he said.

12 films were shortlisted for this year’s competition, out of 115 films submitted, a new record in the number of submissions.

Grand Prize Award

Hawa by Tan Ce Ding

Best Director Award

Tan Ce Ding for Hawa

Best Screenplay Award

Tan Ce Ding & Andy Darrel Gomes for Hawa


‘HAWA’ rangkul hadiah utama BMW Shorties 2016

‘Hawa’, filem pendek arahan Tan Ce Ding muncul sebagai pemenang hadiah utama pertandingan BMW Shorties 2016 edisi ke-10 baru-baru ini.  Pertandingan filem pendek ini telah menerima jumlah penyertaan tertinggi, iaitu sebanyak 115 buah filem, dan menyenarai pendekkan 12 finalis bagi pertandingan tahun ini.


Mr Han Sang Yun, Pengarah Urusan & CEO BMW Group Malaysia, bersama Tan Ce Ding, Pengarah ‘Hawa’, Pemenang Hadiah Utama BMW Shorties 2016.

Tan Ce Ding yang telah menyertai BMW Shorties sejak 2010, telah lima kali berjaya mendapat tempat dalam senarai 10 filem pendek terbaik tetapi tidak pernah memenangi pertandingan ini sehingga sekarang. Beliau bakal menerima geran produksi sebanyak RM 75,000 daripada Kumpulan BMW Malaysia serta bimbingan daripada para pengadil untuk menghasilkan filem pendek profesional beliau yang seterusnya.

Berlatarbelakangkan Malaysia yang berada dalam kemusnahan setelah dilanda wabak zombi, ‘Hawa’ berkisahkan mengenai persahabatan di antara Hawa, gadis yang telah dijangkiti oleh gigitan zombi dan seorang anak muda yang berperwatakan riang bernama Meng. Menerusi kaedah simbolisme yang baik, pengarah Tan Ce Ding dapat menyampaikan kisah mengenai persahabatan dengan berkesan – terutama bagaimana mudahnya ia terdedah kepada bahaya isu sosial yang digambarkan sebagai wabak zombi dalam filem ini yang mengancam persahabatan Hawa and Meng.


Para pelakon dan krew ‘Hawa’ bersama Mr Sashi Ambi (kiri), Ketua Komunikasi Korporat, BMW Group Malaysia, dan Mr Han Sang Yun (kanan).

Di samping mendapat Hadiah Utama, ‘Hawa’ turut merangkul anugerah Pengarah Terbaik, Lakon Layar Terbaik, dan Penataan Bunyi Terbaik. Produksi ini juga dicalonkan untuk Sinematografi Terbaik, Reka Bentuk Produksi Terbaik, Suntingan Terbaik, Pelakon Terbaik, dan Pelakon Wanita Terbaik.

Bercakap pada malam anugerah tersebut, En. Han Sang Yun, Pengarah Urusan dan CEO Kumpulan BMW Malaysia berkata, “BMW Shorties telah melangkah jauh dalam menemukan dan menyokong potensi pembuatan filem di Malaysia sejak kami memulakannya sedekad yang lalu. Hari ini, kami berbesar hati kerana telah dapat memperkenalkan dan membantu menaikkan ramai bakat baru yang berpotensi yang kini telah mewujudkan nilai dan legasi dalam industri perfileman dan pengiklanan di Malaysia.”

Filem pendek oleh Pemenang Hadiah Utama BMW Shorties dan para finalis lain boleh ditonton di laman sesawang BMW Shorties (www.bmwshorties.com.my). Untuk maklumat lanjut, lawati laman Facebook BMW Shorties di www.facebook.com/BMWShorties.

Tahniah GLAM Lelaki ucapkan kepada Tan Ce Ding serta pemenang-pemenang lain!