Documentaries about films are probably among the most difficult cinematic exercises a director has to pull. Edmund Yeo, however, took it a step further, by shooting a documentary about the short film “Pigeon”, by Isao Yukisada in order to pay tribute to another director, the late Yasmin Ahmad, whose pictures shaped Yukisada’s perspective on Malaysia.
“Yasmin-san” screened at the 8th Annual San Diego Asian Film Festival Spring Showcase
In that fashion, the documentary begins with interviews of the case and crew, where Yukisada admits that Ahmad’s spirit permeates the film, both in its aesthetics, but also in essence, since Sharifah Amani, Ahmad’s regular, is also cast in “Pigeon”. Through these interviews, we learn a lot about the film, but soon Ahmad takes over, particularly through Amani, who considers the director one of the most important individuals in her life, even calling her “my mother”.
As the documentary progresses, the point of focus turns completely towards Ahmad, with Edmund Yeo including archive footage from both her movies and her life, which shed light to the basis of her films, particularly regarding the multicultural aspect and the presentation of the concept of family.
Edmund Yeo directs a documentary that works on many levels, as apart from the aforementioned, the relationship between Malaysians and Japanese come to the fore, with the film presenting a message of unity that leaves all stories of colonization to the past. Furthermore, “Yasmin-san” also functions as a documentary about how to shoot a movie, although not in detail.
Yeo, who was also in charge of the cinematography, has added a number of “artistic” images in the film, using black-and-white sequences, slow motion, and a number of beautiful shots, in order to carry the film beyond the borders of the documentary. The scene where the light is shown through the tree branches is probably the most identifying of this aspect.
In the end, “Yasmin-san” is a film that pays tribute to Yasmin Ahmad, with the love Yeo seems to feel for her work emitting from every frame, but I was also impressed by Amani, whose delightful talks and overall composure make her interview one of the most entertaining parts of the documentary.
If Yeo’s purpose (apart from paying tribute) was to draw interest in the films of Yasmin Ahmad, then I can say that he has succeeded to the fullest, and in the process, has done the same for both Isao Yukisada and Sharifah Amani.