PETALING JAYA, Jan 9 — On the surface, Hawa appears to be a tale about a zombie apocalypse in Malaysia.
But after watching the prize-winning short film, you will realise it is also a story about people overcoming their differences to come together.
“In that particular world, everyone is the same... the difference is whether you have been infected or not,” said director Tan Ce Ding.
“And what changes Hawa when everything inside her has given up is when she meets the boy (Meng)... it sparks the passion, triggers the humanity within her,” he told Malay Mail Online in a recent interview.
The 13-minute short film, which won the 2016 BMW Shorties’ grand prize, tells the story of Hawa, a girl locked in her room after being infected by a zombie bite, and a carefree boy Meng as they struggle to forge a friendship.
“On one layer, these two characters can never be together, from the opening scene the girl is inside and the boy is outside, along the story somehow they manage to be together but in the end the girl is back inside and the boy is outside again.
“What separates them is the disease. In another way, we can link it with our society,” he said.
The film’s producer Edward Lim said it was named after the main actress herself, Hawa Khadeeja, after they found out the meaning of Hawa or Eve.
“Because of how separated they (Hawa and Meng) are, like Adam and Eve, that’s why we decided to call it Eve, or Hawa,” he said.
He added that the most powerful part of the short film is when Hawa looks in the mirror and acts like a zombie the acceptance that she cannot change her fate.
“If there is one particular message, I would personally say if only we are all kids, in a post apocalyptic world, it doesn’t matter who we are as long as we survive together,” Lim said.
Lim added that it took them half a year to develop the story, and to figure out the characters’ psychological and emotional aspects.
“One of the challenges was to find the right actors we didn’t think about Chinese or Malay characters. It was just about two neighbourhood kids who want to be friends.
“When we did the casting, we didn’t specify any race, we just wanted good actors and it turned out the actors that we cast were the perfect fit, a Malay girl and a Chinese boy,” he said.
Moving forward, Tan and Lim said they are trying to bring Hawa to the international stage via film festivals.
Apart from the BMW Shorties Grand Prize, Hawa also won in the Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Sound Design categories.
Hawa can be viewed on http://www.bmwshorties.com.