KUALA LUMPUR, May 2 — Director and producer Jin Ong has become the first Malaysian to win big at the recent Far East Film Festival in Udine, Italy.

Ong’s first feature film Abang Adik dominated at the nine-day festival which celebrated its 25th-anniversary this year.

At the closing ceremony on Sunday, Abang Adik won FEFF’s first-place Golden Mulberry audience award, as well as the Black Dragon critics’ prize and the White Mulberry Award for best debut feature.

It’s the first time in the festival’s history that a film from Southeast Asia has simultaneously won three awards.


At its official screening, the audience applauded for the full three and a half minutes during the credit roll.

“I am truly happy Abang Adik has been recognised by the Italian audience,” Ong told Malay Mail.

“More importantly, receiving my first directing award will push me to create more Malaysia-based stories and movies in the near future.”


Did he expect to win? “No, I didn’t but I had hoped for at least one award,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it when I won three!”

Only two months ago, the film bagged two awards at the 37th Fribourg International Film Festival in Switzerland.

“Both film festivals were great,” he added.

“But I really felt the passion and recognition from the crowd in Udine. They were keen to interact with me and share their opinions.”

Ong, a 48-year-old veteran in the Malaysian Chinese entertainment industry, has been producing films since 2014 including Shuttle Life, The Gathering, In My Heart, Miss Andy and The Paradise.

‘Abang Adik’ stars Malaysian actor Jack Tan (R) and Taiwanese actor Wu Kang Ren --- Picture via Facebook.com/MIFFEST and MGGA
‘Abang Adik’ stars Malaysian actor Jack Tan (R) and Taiwanese actor Wu Kang Ren --- Picture via Facebook.com/MIFFEST and MGGA

Set in present-day Malaysia, the film in Cantonese, Mandarin, Malay and sign language, is about two grown-up orphans, Abang and Adi.

Abang, the older brother, is hearing- and speech-impaired, and has resigned himself to a life of poverty.

His younger brother, Adi, refuses to accept that fate and fights it with anger in his heart.

Following a brutal accident that upsets the balance of their fragile relationship, the two learn to fend for one another against the harsh realities of the world.