Dharius Zulkefli, a local film director based in New York City, once again made Malaysia proud by bagging Best Family Drama for his film, The Selfish Ones at The Manhattan Film Festival 2018. He previously won Best Editing for his short film Kun Fayakun, beating 45 other titles, at the United International Film Festival (UIFF).
Kr8tif Express had the opportunity to have an exclusive interview with the man himself. Read the full interview below!
Q: What is your inspiration behind this movie?
A: The Selfish Ones was written by Eric Grisanti and Robert Mosca who also produced the film. They approached me with the screenplay in hopes of a collaboration. Blending their honest writing style with my visual style was the first thing that drew me to the project. Once I read the script however my interest in making the movie multiplied. Exploring the subject matter of guilt and blame was very interesting to me. The film is about the aftermath of a suicide and understanding what pushes a person to take their own life. Figuring out who is truly the selfish one, is it the person who committed the act or the ones that pushed him to do so? This is the question being asked throughout the film.
Q: What are some challenges you often face as a filmmaker in a foreign country?
A: The biggest challenge I face as a young foreign filmmaker is first and foremost, proving that I belong here in this city. When I first came here there was a bit of a culture shock that I experience but after I overcame that, I needed to prove that my artistic abilities are truly unique. That being a foreigner, most importantly a Malaysian gives me a truly unique insight on subject matters. Then taking that insight and showing it in a way that the American/Western audience will enjoy.
Q: Who would you like to collaborate with in your future films, in terms of any specific actors/actresses/filmmakers?
A: It would be a dream come true to work with Daniel Day-Lewis or Tom Hanks. The actor that I’ve always wanted to work with but sadly has passed on is, James Gandolfini. As for filmmakers, I would be honored to have a film scored by the great Hans Zimmer!
Q: Do you have any advice for young local filmmakers that are striving for success in the industry?
A: Never go a day without watching a film. Good or bad there is always something to learn from it. As filmmakers it is our duty to study films of the past and present for we are always students of cinema. Secondly, do not be afraid of failure or rejection because those are just lessons every filmmaker needs to embrace. Lastly, read Rebel Without A Crew which to summarize its message and a message I follow religiously is: if you want to make a movie, no matter where or who you are, stop making excuses, pick up a camera and go make it!