Iban Misha Minut Panggau aspires to be an acclaimed film director

Actors dressed as zombies ‘attacking’ Misha (with cap) during the shooting of her film ‘Belaban Hidup’.

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Kenyalang Portraits

By Wilfred Pilo

KUCHING, June 24: Limbang-born Misha Minut Panggau worships renown Chinese film director Zhang Yimou and American actor-cum-filmmaker Mel Gibson.

On the local front, female film directors she admires are Erma Fatima and Yasmin Ahmad, who is known for films such as ‘Sepet’ and ‘Gubra’.

Although Misha is relatively new standing behind the camera, she has given a glimpse of her potential through short films ‘Dendam Gadang’ and ‘Midnight Motel’. She also recently completed co-directing feature film ‘Belaban Hidup (Infeksi Zombie)’.

Misha (centre) strikes a pose with the film extras of ‘Belaban Hidup’, which she produced, co-directed, wrote and acted in. Her husband is on the left in the picture.

Recently, she was bestowed an award at a film festival in Sarawak, which was supported by the state government, for ‘Outstanding contribution to Sarawak Film and Industries’.

Misha is among only 30 registered female film directors in Malaysia. She revealed to DayakDaily during a recent interview that her main challenge in the industry is public acceptance of her work.

“As an Iban female film director, I must build up my self-confidence so that I can compete with my counterparts in the country. I will remain confident for as long as I have the support and grants for making films.

“Deep in my heart, I know I can make good films. And on top of that, I want my masterpieces to be well-liked and long remembered by moviegoers.”

Misha and her film director husband, Ray Lee.

Misha, who is married to West Malaysian film director Ray Lee, has a Diploma in Movie Directing from Asia Metropolitan University. She is registered with the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas).

She disclosed that Lee is both her mentor and best friend in the industry.

Misha became hooked on film-making some seven years ago when she worked as a make-up artist and as a film extra in a local television show ‘Bibikku Maduku’.

“During filming (of ‘Bibikku Maduku’), my interest blossomed, and this experience spurred me on to become a film director myself.”

Misha Minut Panggau

Misha loves to work on fictional films, as there is “no limit in its script writing and storylines”.

For now, her focus is on ‘Belaban Hidup (Infeksi Zombie)’.

“We finished shooting in April this year. It is the first-ever feature film where I produced, co-directed and wrote together with my husband and also acted in it.”

‘Belaban Hidup ( Infeksi Zombie)’ is very meaningful to Misha, and she hopes it would be a huge success when it hits the big screens in the country soon.

“I always hope this is the kind of work that I do that will spur more interest among Dayak youths who want to get involved in the film industry.”

Misha (left), her husband, Ray Lee, and others in a photo-call at the 2019 Asean International Film Festival and Awards that was held in Kuching from from April 25-27, 2019.

Misha said she believed such Dayak films and other locally-made films would not only contribute to the state’s economy but would be positive to the arts, traditions and cultures in the state through the sharing of ideas.

“This way, we are also promoting and showcasing the many beautiful places in Malaysia, which can attract tourists from all over the world to visit.”

For those aspiring to venture into the film industry, Misha said having truckloads of self-confidence and the courage to try new things are a ‘must have’.

“Don’t let critics break you. As long as you can generate ideas, do the best you can in making good films.” — DayakDaily