Home > Entertainment > Movies > From ‘Miss Andy’ to ‘Abang Adik’: These films produced by Lay Jin Ong are a must-watch
From ‘Miss Andy’ to ‘Abang Adik’: These films produced by Lay Jin Ong are a must-watch

A local film titled Abang Adik by Malaysian filmmaker, Jin Ong has recently bagged two prestigious awards at the 37th Fribourg International Film Festival (FIFF) held in Switzerland this year.

Who is Jin Ong?

Lay Jin Ong, more commonly known as Jin Ong, is a prominent Malaysian film director and producer. He has contributed significantly to the Malaysian film industry and has produced several critically acclaimed movies.

The Taiping-born director and producer is known for his unique storytelling style and his ability to capture the essence of Malaysian culture and society in his films. With his exceptional talent and dedication, he has established himself as one of the most influential personalities in the Malaysian film industry.

As a filmmaker, Jin Ong has made significant contributions to Malaysian cinema, producing films that have entertained and informed audiences both at home and abroad. His films have been praised for their ability to capture the complexities of Malaysian society, highlighting issues such as cultural identity, social inequality, and political corruption.

Jin Ong’s passion for storytelling is evident in his work, and his films are known for their powerful narratives and compelling characters. He has a keen eye for detail and is able to create cinematic experiences that transport audiences into the world of his characters.

In addition to his work as a filmmaker, Jin Ong is also highly respected for his dedication to the Malaysian film industry. He has mentored and supported many up-and-coming filmmakers, helping to ensure the continued growth and success of the industry.

Overall, Jin Ong’s contributions to the Malaysian film industry have been significant, and his work as a director and producer continues to inspire and entertain audiences around the world.

Top 5 movies by Jin Ong you should add to your binge-list

The Gathering (2014)

Starring: Jack Tan, Zhou Zhou, Thomas Guo, Michael Huang, Sophia Fang, Zhu Hao Ren, Zheng Wei Yin, Tan Vui-Chuan, Ke Qing

The Gathering (同学会) is an emotionally-charged Malaysian film that narrates the heartwarming story of Xiao Mei, a teenage girl who falls in love with a classmate named Fang Tai. However, their love is hindered by the disapproval of Xiao Mei’s mother, who does not approve of their relationship.

After the death of her mother, Xiao Mei attends a yearly gathering with her old schoolmates, hoping to reunite with Fang Tai once again. The movie’s setting is in Taiping, a heritage town located in Northern Perak, providing a stunning backdrop to the story’s unfolding.

The Gathering’s production was helmed by none other than Malaysian producer Lay Jin Ong, who expertly crafted a heartfelt script that captures the complexities of love and family dynamics. The film is a masterful example of Malaysian cinema and has received critical acclaim for its ability to captivate audiences and showcase Malaysian culture.

Shuttle Life (2017)

Starring: Jack Tan, Angel Chan, Sylvia Chang, Mei Yan Gan, Juztin Lan, Jack Yap, Billy Ng, Alissa Chong Abdullah, Swee Huat Teo, Lenny Ooi

Awards: Best Actor, Best Cinematography, and Best Production Design at the 12th Chinese Young Generation Film Forum Awards, Special Jury Award at the 29th Malaysia Film Festival, Asian New Talent – Best Film, Asian New Talent – Best Actor, and Asian New Talent – Best Cinematographer at the 20th Shanghai International Film Festival.

Bold and unrelenting, Shuttle Life (分贝人生) is an emotionally-charged social drama about Malaysia’s urban poor, offering a poignant insight into privilege and powerlessness in modern Kuala Lumpur.

Shuttle Life follows a family’s journey in the wake of tragedy and loss, when Hui Shan is killed in a hit-and-run accident on her sixth birthday. After the accident, Qiang, her 19-year-old brother, wakes up in the hospital, dazed, before realising Hui Shan did not make it. Unable to claim her body from the morgue as she was never registered at birth, Qiang desperately seeks (often illegal) means to accumulate money to make a fake birth certificate, while fighting an uphill battle against bureaucracy and struggling to support his mentally unstable mother.

Shuttle Life is a moving and socially relevant drama that portrays the story of a family trying to overcome the challenges of bureaucracy and tragedy in present-day Kuala Lumpur. The movie follows the journey of Ah Qiang, a 19-year-old brother who struggles to claim his sister’s body from the morgue after she dies in a hit-and-run accident. Unfortunately, she was never registered at birth, which leaves him with no legal means to claim her remains.

As a result, Ah Qiang is forced to resort to illegal methods to accumulate the money needed to create a fake birth certificate. However, he also has to contend with the added burden of supporting his mentally unstable mother, making his situation even more challenging. In the face of the obstacles posed by poverty, bureaucracy, and social inequality, Ah Qiang and his family are forced to fight against a system that seems determined to keep them down.

The film explores the themes of privilege and powerlessness, highlighting the struggles of those who are less fortunate in a society where the odds are stacked against them. The narrative is a poignant and emotional exploration of the power of hope and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

Shuttle Life’s powerful storytelling and exceptional cinematography have earned it numerous accolades at both local and international film festivals. It is a must-see film for anyone interested in exploring the complexities of modern society through the lens of cinema.

In My Heart (2018)

Starring: Charles Tu, Teng Yuan, Uriah See, Abbey Abimbola, Zen, Daniel Chezi, Huang Yi Fei

In My Heart is a Malaysian musical romance film that tells the story of Ah Le, a young university student who has a deep passion for music. He befriends a group of teammates who share the same love for music, and he discovers a new world of possibilities and opportunities as he immerses himself in this community. Along the way, he meets Monster, a punk girl who captures his heart and his imagination.

The movie delves into the themes of unfulfilled dreams and the weight of guilt that can hold us back from pursuing our passions. Ah Le is haunted by the memory of a tragic accident that happened during his younger years, causing him to suppress his musical talents and ambitions for a long time. However, as he gets to know his new friends and Monster, he starts to rediscover his love for music and finds the courage to pursue it once again.

In addition to exploring the complexities of relationships and the consequences of impulsive decisions, the film also touches on the importance of perseverance and the power of music to heal and uplift us. Ah Le’s journey is a testament to the transformative power of art and the human spirit’s resilience in the face of adversity.

watchin my heart here

Miss Andy (2020)

Starring: Lee Lee-zen, Jack Tan, Ruby Lin, Kyzer Tou, Keshap Suria, Kendra Sow, Sathisvaran Magesvaaran, Irfani Zhang

Awards: MME Creative Award at the 2018 Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival and Awards

Miss Andy is a poignant and sensitive film that delves into the complex issues of gender identity and discrimination in Malaysia. Released in 2020, the movie narrates the story of a 55-year-old transgender woman named Evon, formerly known as Andy, who faces harsh societal judgments and biases due to her gender. The film portrays how transgender and gay individuals are mistreated and discriminated against in a society where heteronormativity is the norm.

The plot of the movie revolves around Evon’s life after she loses her best friend. Struggling to cope with grief and loneliness, she meets an illegal Vietnamese worker who was also having a hard time surviving in society. Their chance encounter leads to a beautiful friendship that flourishes over time.

However, the movie isn’t just about Evon and her friend. It also highlights the struggles of a mother and her son who escape an abusive relationship and have nowhere to go. Evon’s kindness and compassion towards them bring about a positive change in her life, and the lives of those around her—which showcases the importance of empathy, kindness, and tending to the humanity in others, as they can make life bearable for those who are struggling.

Miss Andy is a film that inspires and touches the heart. It is a must-watch for people interested in exploring the complexities of gender issues and societal pressures through the lens of cinema. The movie is an excellent portrayal of the struggles faced by the LGBTQ+ community, and it highlights the importance of acceptance, love, and compassion in a world that often forgets to be kind.

Abang Adik (2023)

Starring: Chris Wu Kang Ren, Jack Tan, Serene Lim

Awards: Audience Award and the Ecumenical Jury Award at the 37th Fribourg International Film Festival (FIFF)

Abang Adik is an inspiring Malaysian film directed by the renowned filmmaker Jin Ong, which has been recognised with two prestigious awards at the 37th Fribourg International Film Festival. The movie tells the story of two undocumented orphans, Abang and Adi, who struggle to survive in present-day Malaysia, where they face a harsh reality of poverty and social inequality.

Abang, the older brother, is a deaf mute who has resigned himself to their impoverished way of life, while his younger sibling, Adi, is filled with anger and frustration about their situation. The film takes a deep dive into the complex dynamics of their relationship, as they navigate the challenges of their daily life and cope with their traumatic past.

The narrative reaches a turning point when a tragic accident occurs, which not only puts their lives in danger but also threatens to upset the fragile balance of their relationship. The film is a poignant and emotional exploration of the power of love and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

Jin Ong’s masterful direction and storytelling skills shine through in Abang Adik, as he expertly captures the nuances of Malaysian society and culture, while also shedding light on important issues such as poverty, immigration, and social injustice. The film is a must-watch for anyone interested in exploring the complexities of the human experience through the lens of cinema.

(Hero image credit: @adam851226/ Instagram, Featured image credits: Fribourg International Film Festival)

From ‘Miss Andy’ to ‘Abang Adik’: These films produced by Lay Jin Ong are a must-watch

Melissa Foong

Senior Digital Writer

Born and raised in the beautiful city of Kuala Lumpur, Melissa loves writing all things fashion, beauty and dining-related. She has written for BURO 24/7 and Augustman, and when she's not busy chasing deadlines, you can find her tucked in a blanket rereading her favourite series of fantasy novels, Harry Potter.

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