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Remembering Yasmin Ahmad

Stepping foot into Yasmin Ahmad’s gallery in Ipoh, all Mak Inom could do was shed tears. Yasmin’s mother said, “Looking at my daughter’s personal belongings and photographs, I couldn’t hold back my emotions. It has been almost six years since she left us but we all still miss her. She never left us, just like she never left you.”

Inom Yon, her husband Ahmad Hashim and younger daughter Orked were the hosts of Yasmin Museum Festival, a two-day celebration of Yasmin’s legacy at her gallery, Yasmin@Kong Heng.

The museum was Mak Inom’s dream for Yasmin and it was realised by her friends and fans who pooled their resources to establish this gallery in the Old Town section of Ipoh.

Besides immortalising and honouring the late award-winning filmmaker and advertising personality, Mak Inom hoped that Yasmin’s knowledge in film, art, advertising, poetry and photography, as well as her deep insightful way of thinking would be passed on and continue to inspire new works of love and kindness.

The gallery at Old Block Apartments, which welcomed its first visitors in mid-October, is only open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 4pm. Admission fee is by a minimum donation of RM3 per adult. This first curation is by Stanley Wong of Hong Kong, famously known as anothermountainman. As Yasmin’s personal friend, he took photographs of Yasmin’s personal effects as soon as she passed away. This curation on Yasmin was exhibited in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China, prior to coming to Ipoh. The gallery will evolve over time to include additional exhibits.

During the launch of the festival, Mak Inom said, “Ipoh had a special place in Yasmin’s heart. Today, I can see why. She never liked the glamour of city life. Instead, she loved Ipoh for its heritage values and the people here. And the people here loved her in return.” Many of Yasmin’s movies were filmed in Ipoh, such as Sepet, Gubra, Muallaf and Talentime.

Yasmin was so appreciative of the essence of Ipoh that she even built a house with an “Ipoh design” for her parents in Padang Matsirat, Langkawi.

Mak Inom was Yasmin’s inspiration and role model. Despite having gained recognition and bestowed accolades for her work in advertisements and films, Mak Inom was still the first person that Yasmin sought out for feedback.

Speaking to Ipoh Echo, Mak Inom said, “Yasmin was truly a loving child and a very forgiving person. She championed racial unity in her films but was criticised by many. It hurt her tremendously but she forgave them. Yasmin was also very generous with her ideas, knowledge and finances. People would knock at her door at all hours seeking her advice and she would willingly help. I only knew about this aspect of her when she passed away and her friends came to see me to show support.”

Orked, Yasmin’s muse, was very touched by the reception they received from all who joined in the celebration of Yasmin’s life and work. She said, “I am so proud to be a part of Yasmin’s family. She was just so talented that at this moment, no one is capable of filling her shoes.”

Indeed, Yasmin had inherited her musical talent from her father, a music lecturer who composed the song “Kami Guru Malaysia” and her flair for languages from her mother, a lecturer of Bahasa Malaysia and Methods of Teaching.

“Following the success of ‘Yasmin, How You Know?’, we’re in the midst of preparing a second book. Part of its proceeds would be used to fund this gallery.”

‘Yasmin, How You Know?’ is a book compiled by friends and family consisting of a collection of her poetry, jokes and sense of the ridiculous. It includes her last two television scripts and is available for sale at Yasmin@Kong Heng at RM35 per copy. All proceeds go to Yasmin’s favourite charity, Mercy Malaysia.

On the first day of the festival, the organisers brought together artistes to perform on stage to pay tribute to Yasmin Ahmad. One of the guests was actress Sharifah Amani, who was involved in all of Yasmin’s movies.

“I remember meeting Yasmin for the first time at 3am one morning. I can’t really tell why there was this chemistry between us but she told me that I reminded her of herself when she was at my age,” said Sharifah.

On Yasmin’s deep love for Ipoh, Sharifah recollected the first movie they filmed in Ipoh. “It was Sepet. I was only 17 then. I guess we all fell in love with Ipoh during the time spent here filming Sepet. Ipoh looked like it was trapped in a time capsule. It was real, the people were helpful. I believe that was when we set our roots here,” she recalled.

On the second day of the festival, fans were treated to a series of showings of Yasmin’s films, including the making of Sepet, Gubra, Mukhsin, Muallaf and Talentime.

Emily

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