BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – After three weeks of film screenings, workshops and master classes, the second Brunei Film Blitz crowned its winner Saturday night.

Wan Amirul Azizan Hj Ibrahim, 29, moved audiences with his short film Yang Hilang Akan Berganti (What Is Lost Will Be Replaced), a tear-jerker of an entry about a man coping with the loss of his family.

He will be the first student enrolled at Brunei’s filmmaking college, the Mahakarya Institute of the Arts Asia, winning a scholarship for a two-year Diploma in Screen and Media, sponsored by Progresif Cellular.

The film blitz saw around 20 entries, with participants required to produce a three to six minute short film within the span of four days or 96 hours.

At the beginning of the 96 hours, a “secret ingredient” was announced that had to play an integral role in the film. This year’s secret ingredient was candas, a V-shaped bamboo chopstick primarily used to eat ambuyat, a dish synonymous with Bruneian food culture.

From L-R (front row): Festival director, Siti Kamaluddin; founder of Mahakarya Institute of the Arts Asia, YAM Pengiran Anak Hajah Nurul Amal Munjiatul Athirah; Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism, YB Dato Hj Ali; Richard Barrett of TAFE Queensland; and Dean of the Mahakarya Institute, Dr Alexander J. Fischer. Photo: Wardi Wasil/The Scoop

Wan told the media that his win was unexpected as he felt that his short film was still “imperfect”.

“After the announcement [of the secret ingredient], I had to spend the whole day to create a storyline and write the script. I didn’t even have the time to find actors, so I had to use my whole family for the short film,” said the 29-year-old.

Having his own videography company based in Kuala Belait, Wan said he was always interested in making short films, but his experience had been limited to making wedding and corporate videos for the past couple of years.

Wan added that he was grateful to have the opportunity to hone his skills through the diploma course, as he is primarily self-taught, and hopes to work as part of a film crew in the future.

Another contestant, Yit Chuan Lee, took home the Jury Award, shocking audiences with his dark thriller Mr Rook, a unique entry with a sci-fi twist to the plot.

The local filmmaker, who owns a production company Chimera Productions, said he has submitted a few short films to international film festivals, the last one in July of this year, at the My Rode Reel Short Film Competition.

“This is my first time taking part in the film blitz, but I have been making short films since 2009. It feels amazing, we feel very lucky and grateful being chosen for the Jury Award,” said the 27-year-old.

As winner of the Jury Award, Lee will get the chance to work with the Mahakarya Institute, which will open its doors in February 2019.

He added that he is excited for the future of the film industry in Brunei, saying that the country’s first film school will “raise the bar” for local content creators.

A special mention award was also presented to filmmakers from Candas — a group of students from various local high schools who were funded by Progresif Cellular to participate in the competition — who won a Canon Powershot SX70 Camera sponsored by Interhouse Company.

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