‘Maryam Pagi Ke Malam’ Cinches Multiple Awards at 21st Asian Film Festival

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(source: International Film Festival Rotterdam / YouTube)

Malaysian film, Maryam Pagi Ke Malam, has won two awards at the 21st Asian Film Festival in Rome, Italy.

Directed by Badrul Hisham Ismail, the film won Most Original Film, with lead actress Datin Sofia Jane bagging the Best Actress award. But of course, it’s safe to assume you probably haven’t heard much talk about this film. Its premise might be the reason why.

The patriarchy is alive and well, even if you’re a woman in her 50s

(source: International Film Festival Rotterdam / YouTube)

Centred around Maryam, a 50-year-old gallery owner who comes from an aristocratic family, the film follows our lead as she seeks blessings from her father (Omar Abdullah) to marry her young foreigner boyfriend from Sierra Leone. He, of course, refuses to give his blessing.

What ensues is an unsavoury reminder of the way things supposedly work in a patriarchal society like Malaysia—depicted within the span of just 24 hours.

(source: International Film Festival Rotterdam / YouTube)

“We couldn’t really have a wide release of the film here (Malaysia), for obvious reasons,” Badrul remarked. “So it’s really encouraging to be recognised and be celebrated elsewhere.”

Despite local premier setbacks, it’s clear that the film’s message has resonated with a wider global audience.

Malay-Muslim women face a lot of religious bureaucracy in this country, so here’s some context for the film:

In order to get married, a Muslim woman must have the consent of her wali, who is usually her biological father or nearest male relative. Her prospective husband would then need to come to an agreement with the wali at the solemnisation ceremony, ensuring the marriage is valid. If the wali does not agree to “give away” the woman, things can get very complicated, very quickly.

“The idea of isolation comes in many forms—it’s not just about being lonely,” Sofia shared in a September 2022 interview with Malay Mail. “Being isolated could be by society, it could be by family. Maryam is isolated from day to night, without anybody to hear what she wants to say. Nobody takes heed of what she thinks is important in her life.”

Produced by Anomalous Films, Maryam Pagi Ke Malam has a runtime of 90 minutes, and was funded by Penjana Kreatif and the Arthouse-Festival Feature Film Grants from MyCreative Ventures.

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