Malaysia’s first Dusun language film to hit cinemas on June 13

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia’s first Dusun language film ‘Sinakagon’ is all set to be screened in 30 cinemas nationwide beginning June 13.

‘Sinakagon’, which means progeny in the Dusun language, is the directorial debut of Timothy Stephen and the maiden production of Bamboo Sound Studio. Its all-Sabahan cast comprises Fiona Josepher, Ejin Dinting, Lisa Christy, Esthaer Zaino and Ron Langad.

Also titled ‘Bloodline’ for international audiences, the movie’s intriguing storyline blending elements of drama, mystery and thriller, has fared well at a few international independent film events.

Timothy received the Best First Time Director (Feature) award at the Milan Independent Awards, while his film emerged finalist at the Prisma Rome Independent Film Awards. ‘Sinakagon’ also made it to the Official Selection at the Barcelona Indie Filmmakers Fest, ranking among the top five out of 100 selected films.

Timothy said his movie brings the language and culture of the Dusun people of Sabah to the silver screen and hoped it would be well-received by Malaysian movie enthusiasts.

He said the movie is inspired by the legend of Huminodun, which tells the story of a girl who sacrifices herself to save the people in her village from a devastating famine brought on by a drought. This folk tale is connected to the Unduk Ngadau beauty pageant which is held annually during the Tadau Kaamatan festival.

Timothy admitted facing significant challenges in completing the film, particularly in terms of costs and casting.

“The main challenge was the cost of making the film. We received a grant of RM200,000 from FINAS (National Film Development Corporation Malaysia) but the actual production costs were much higher,” he said recently when he appeared as a guest on Bernama TV’s ‘Apa Khabar Malaysia’ programme.

He said casting was also a challenge because most of the actors were inexperienced and could not speak the Dusun language fluently.

“It was hard to find (suitable) actors… they can speak Dusun but some were not fluent (in the language). Some were also acting for the first time, so we had to train them first,” said Timothy.

Besides directing ‘Sinakagon’, he was also the film’s director of photography and script writer. He was also responsible for producing and marketing the film.

Filming for ‘Sinakagon’ began on May 15, 2021, taking place at various locations in Keningau, Tambunan and Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. The production took a year to complete although it was interrupted several times due to the implementation of the movement control order. — BERNAMA / pic TMR FILE