Redefining Identity. The Malaysian Gathering

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Excerpts from the convention publicity material, abstracts of two of the three talks:

Her Formidable Gaze: Portraits of the Peranakan Matriarch Past and Present

Commanding an aura of authority and fear, the formidable Matriarch gazes sternly from her portrait. The Matriarch (Bibik) is the head of the Baba Nyonya residence and the ‘social glue’ binding the family. The speaker will discuss the meanings captured in the images of the quintessential Peranakan Matriarch, based on painted portraits and photographs of the Peranakan Matriarch dating from the 1860s up till the early 20th century. The syncretic (campur-campur) nature of the Peranakan culture is the fruition of cross-cultural unions of our ancestors; marriages of two disparate worlds which, in essence went ‘beyond borders and across oceans’. The speaker argues that the Matriarch’s resilience in safeguarding her heritage and her ability to adapt to changing times is immortalized in her portrait – perhaps these messages embedded within these old photographs can be communicated and inspire us to ‘reconnect’ with our heritage.”

Lina Tan (RED Communications) shared her experience as a film producer of Baba Nyonya TV sitcoms, ‘Baba Nyonya’ and the practicality of mandarin dialogue in the ‘the Little Nyonya’.

In a talk entitled, ‘Peranakans in Film’
The media especially mainstream popular media like TV and Film are paramount to raising awareness of the Peranakan Culture. It’s a visual medium that immediately connects a rich culture to millions of audiences. “Baba Nyonya” was a popular and one of the longest running TV series in Malaysia running from the 1980s to 2000 making Malaysians aware of the culture. “The Little Nyonya” hit TV series produced in Singapore created more interest and awareness of this community and reeled the attraction it held for a larger audience who do not know much about our unique community.

However why are there not more of Peranakan images seen in these medium? When can we finally see a Movie about the history and culture of the Peranakans? With more than 20years in the world of film making, the speaker will share her insights and observations about the difficulties and realities of bringing a rich culture to the silver screen.

Lina Tan was born in Malacca and grew up entirely in Malacca before she left to study for a Mass Communication degree. Upon graduating with a Film and Television degree from USM (Universiti Sains Malaysia) in 1991, Lina entered into the world of television commercial production, working in production houses in Malaysia as Producer. In 1999, Lina founded Red Communications Sdn Bhd to focus on creating innovative and meaningful content. She has created a variety of award winning television programs specializing in youth, kids and women issues including 3R (Respect, Relax, Respond), Profil Seni, Oh My English.

In 2004 Lina formed a subsidiary company called red Films which produces feature length films like Gol & Gincu, Kami, Pisau Cukur, Songlap and Istanbul Aku Datang which has won awards and shown internationally at film festivals.

Categories: Culture

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