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Newest Malaysian films which found international recognition to watch out for

What better way to celebrate Malaysia Day than catching up on Malaysian films? 

We have brought you a constellation of Malaysian films and a series of novels and memoirs written prior to Merdeka, which offered an authentic account of life in Malaya, now we complete the trilogy with Malaysian films which found international fame at several film festivals held on foreign soil.

Stay away the popcorn and get some crispy salted egg fish skin instead. We absolutely can’t wait for cinemas to reopen safely.

Barbarian Invasion 

The third feature film of director Tan Chui Mui, Barbarian Invasion is a personification of the multilingual country where dialogues are conversed in a “rojak” of Chinese, Cantonese and Malay languages. The Jury Grand Prix winner at the 24th Shanghai International Film Festival, the art house martial art action flick tells of the journey of self-discovery of a divorcee and retired actress, described as “Southeast Asian version of The Bourne Identity,” to the lesser-known part of the East Coast, with her mixed-race son in tow.  

Barbarian Invasion is presently screened at multiple international film festivals.


After bagging various awards internationally, including a Best Cinematography prize at the Norwegian Film Festival, the fantasy-thriller has movie buffs looking forward to its impending release on the silver screen. The visually stunning Tamil film is based on the titular board game, which a group of friends discover on an adventure trip to an obscured location on which a British colonial house sits. What transpires next has them on the edge, as the board game takes control of their lives. 

Stream it on Astro Go.

The Story of Southern Islet

A caldron of mysticism, the supernatural, secularism and faith, the horror-thriller is based on director Chong Keat Aun’s childhood memories. Set against a lush, picturesque backdrop of a rural area bordering Northern Malaysia and Southern Thailand, a man becomes the subject of a series of odd and unexplainable diseases, who is feared to have fallen into a widow’s scourge. To aid her ailing husband, a woman sets out for help and brings upon a resolution. 

The Story of Southern Islet, which garnered the director a Best New Director prize at the 57th Golden Horse Awards, is currently screened at various international film festivals.

Meanwhile, while waiting for the above to be screened locally, why not have something equally impressive to tide us over?

The Garden of Evening Mists

Adapted from the Man Asian Literary Prize-winning novel of the same title by Malaysian author Tan Twan Eng, the riveting period drama follows the recollection of a World War II survivor’s quest to honour her deceased sister as an apprentice of an enigmatic Japanese gardener residing in Cameron Highlands who she later fell in love. With an international cast and nominated for multiple prizes at the 56th Golden Horse Awards, the film stars acclaimed thespians Lee Sinje and Sylvia Chang. 

Watch it on HBO Go


Hero and feature images by Da Huang Pictures

Justin Ng
Digital Content Director, Kuala Lumpur
Often think of myself as a journalist and so I delve deeper into a range of topics. Talk to me about current affairs, watches, travel, drinks, new experiences and more importantly, the business, economics and dynamics behind it.