Malaysian producers over the moon by Oscar nomination

Malaysian film producers Cheyenne Tan (left) and Teng Poh Si (right) with American community activist Bruce Franks Jr. ― Picture courtesy of Teng Poh Si
Malaysian film producers Cheyenne Tan (left) and Teng Poh Si (right) with American community activist Bruce Franks Jr. ― Picture courtesy of Teng Poh Si

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 16 — When St Louis Superman scored the nomination for Best Documentary Short Subject at this year’s Oscars, its two Malaysian producers, based in the United States, embraced their surreal emotions.

Teng Poh Si and Cheyenne Tan did not expect the nomination as it was competing against other award-winning documentaries.

Tan, who hails from Kuching, Sarawak, had her thoughts swinging back and forth the day the nominations were read out, lowering her expectations to avoid disappointment.

“I tried my hardest to bring my expectations down as low as possible so that the disappointment that might come would be easier to take.

“But after the initial feeling of relief, it was just a flood of different emotions. Thankful, surreal, proud,” she said to Bernama via Facebook Messenger.

Meanwhile,  in Washington DC, Penangite Teng Poh Si screamed her lungs and burst into tears as soon as the title of the documentary was read out along with other nominations including The Absence, Learning To Skateboard In A Warzone (If You’re A Girl), Life Overtakes Me and Walk Run Cha-Cha.

“I asked my partner, Mayank whether he would like to watch the announcement with me. As the hosts read out the nominees for documentary short subject, Mayank whipped out his mobile phone and captured the moment where I almost died,” she said describing the unforgettable early hours when the nominations were announced.

St Louis Superman is a 25-minute long documentary under MTV and AJE Witness that tells the story of Bruce Franks Jr, an activist and battle rapper who became a state representative in St Louis, Missouri in 2016.

The film depicts the struggles he faced in order to pass a bill critical for his community and also to overcome a personal trauma.

Both Tan and Teng also credited Franks Jr as well as directors Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan for making this documentary impactful to the community.

“I am proud of our entire film-making team and everyone who worked on the film in any capacity. I honestly don’t know if the full impact and significance of it have actually sunk in yet but when it does, I might have to lie down for a little bit,” said Tan.

Despite being in the USA, both producers were proud of being Malaysians who managed to bring the country’s name to light.

“At times like these, it is important to pause and think of how far we have come as Malaysians. It is a first for me and Cheyenne, and a first for our country,” Teng said, adding that regardless of what happens, it will show Malaysians that anything was possible.

The Academy Awards will be premiering in Los Angeles on February 9.— Bernama

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