White Mulberry Award for First Time Director Nominee
Malaysia, 2021, 84’, Malay, English, Chinese
Directed by: Muzzamer Rahman
Script: Muzzamer Rahman
Photography (b&w): Fairuz Ismail, Hafiz Rashid
Editing: Kamil Hashim
Production Design: Edward Chee Boon
Music: Reinchez Ng
Producers: Azharul Azmir Kamarulzaman, Bebbra Mailin, Muzzamer Rahman
Cast: Amerul Affendi (Aman), Mei Fen Lim (Bella)
Date of First Release in Territory: TBA
Kuala Lumpur, like all global megacities, is a pole which attracts the most disparate people in search of fortune, providing a crossroads for encounters between all forms of solitude. Against this glittering, yet merciless backdrop, newcomer Muzzafer Rahman depicts the unexpected encounter between two wounded souls in this independent debut feature that comes as a major surprise in the context of Malaysian cinema in recent years.
Aman (Amerul Affendi) is a young aspiring writer who, after the death of his father, inherits his car and moves from Pahang to Kuala Lumpur. However, he struggles to find a job and ends up working as a driver for a transport app, Toompang. In the meantime, his brother, who has offered him a place to stay in the city, throws him out and so Aman finds himself using his father’s old car not only for his work, but also as a makeshift home. During his long days and evenings of work, Aman comes into contact with the various characters that roam the streets of this city of stark contradictions. Until he meets Bella (Mei Fen Lim), a student originally from Penang, who offers him a place to stay and suggests he become her private driver for her night job...
Shot in glossy black and white that accentuates the thousand lights of Kuala Lumpur’s night landscape, Hail, Driver! is a small film full of details, humanity and poetry, capable of capturing the complex reality that forms the backdrop to its story. Muzzamer Rahman portrays a city that was thrived thanks to migrants in search of fortune and opportunity, a melting pot of different identities that meet and clash, struggling to survive. The director skilfully introduces these elements through the conversations of the various passengers that Aman picks up in his car, but also through the news broadcast from the car radio, which let’s the spectator in on the details of an upcoming election as well as news of a city where the social divide between the rich and the poor is ruthless. And the apparently simple story of the encounter between the Malaysian Aman and the Chinese Bella is actually courageous and almost provocative in the context of a society where ethnic and religious segregation between the two main ethnic groups is a taboo that is rarely challenge. The mistrust between the two is overcome when they realize that they need each other, that mutual marginality overcomes prejudice in the name of a deeply sincere sense of belonging.
It sounds simple, but the friendship and solidarity between Aman and Bella has a touching and utopian quality against the backdrop of the superficial opulence and impending moral decadence of the city. And praise must go to the very honest and natural contribution to the portrayal of these roles made by the two fine leads, Amerul Affendi and Mei Fen Lim, who FEFF audiences will remember from James Lee’s Two Sisters (2019).
Of note, this remarkable debut that Muzzamer Rahman began shooting in 2017 was put on hold for three years due to financial difficulties, meaning it was only brought to completion in 2020. Given the merits of Hail, Driver!, we truly hope that Muzzamer Rahman will be able to work on his future projects under more favourable conditions, and that this showing at the FEFF for its European premiere will be an ace up his sleeve to achieve this result!
Muzzamer Rahman began working on his feature film debut in 2017 with the indie Hail, Driver!, but due to financial stumbling blocks, the film was put on hold for three years. In the meantime, he directed a commercial film for Jazzy Pictures, Takut ke Tak released on the Malaysian big screen in August 2020, before Hail, Driver!, which has yet to be released in the director’s home country.
2020 – Takut ke Tak
2021 – Hail, Driver!