Viral Petronas Gawai 2019 webfilm scores big thumbs-up on social media

Zahariah (fifth left) and Petronas Sarawak General manager Zulaihi Mohd Mentali (fourth left) together with cast members and the directors on stage for a photo session.

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KUCHING, May 20: Petronas has once again made a viral festive webfilm after garnering about 13,000 shares on Facebook and about 14,000 views on Youtube (as of time of writing) for its Gawai Celebration 2019 webfilm titled “Baju Burong Apai” which was uploaded online only last Friday (May 17).

One of the webfilm stars Maclean Patrick Sibat said he received a lot of praise from family members and friends as well as social media users who had viewed the webfilm titled “Baju Burong Apai”.

Maclean, who also helped in writing the script in Iban, said this was the best webfilm made by Petronas depicting the Dayak culture in celebrating Gawai Dayak in Sarawak.

“I received a lot of very positive feedback on social media and from family members. They said it was very touching,” he told members of the media in a cast interview here earlier this evening after the official launch of the webfilm.

Maclean said the directors went to great lengths to make sure that the webfilm accurately depicts the Iban community in Sarawak during Gawai celebrations.

The webfilm is available on Petronas’ Youtube page and is about 4 minutes 48 seconds in length, with dialogue in Iban and some English.

Cast members led by Maclean (second left) and Noria (right) answering questions from the media.

The story is centered around Roy (Mclean Patrick Sibat) after being questioned by his daughter if he is an Iban. Roy, who is the eldest sibling gets an idea to bring all his siblings together to participate in Gawai celebration at their longhouse.

When he arrives in Sarawak, clad in his father’s Baju Burong, he goes on a journey, gathering his family’s traditional items, meeting his other siblings whom he has not seen in years, especially the youngest brother Bob (Emmanuel Reuben) in an effort to gather everyone for the festival.

When Roy goes over to the restaurant where Bob works at to talk to him, an argument breaks out between them over things that have happened in the past.

Roy ends up leaving his father’s Baju Burong at the restaurant.

Even though there’s a feud between the elder and younger brother, we see the younger brother ultimately reconciling with the elder brother by giving him back their father’s Baju Burong, symbolising his respect for him and his acceptance and forgiveness towards the past.

Webfilm director Ismail Kamarul said he and his team had poured much research into making this film, due to the realisation that many feature films, advertisements and TV dramas had often gotten the nuances of East Malaysia wrong.

“There hasn’t been that much content for film, TV and advertising done in the Iban language. To us, ultimately it’s about all Malaysians getting to know each other better through these films be it a better understanding of culture or language,” he said.

Philip (left) and Ismail (right) addressing questions from the media.

On another note, Ismail said people sometimes forget their families especially when they live so far apart, more so after a leader of the family, as in the webfilm, the father, passed away.

The webfilm, he explained, talked about the mantle of that leadership naturally passing on to the eldest son, and having him to take it in with all his heart.

“Hopefully this will evoke a sense of longing for home so that they (viewers) make their way home for Gawai,” said Ismail.

He added: “I strongly believe that any production that wants to make content out of East Malaysia will not be authentic without proper guidance and collaboration.

“I hope this film will leave a positive impact on not only East Malaysians but West Malaysians as well so that we may all know each other better,” said Ismail.

The webfilm is co-directed by Sarawakian Philip Rom Kulleh.

Webfilm advisor, cultural expert who is a senior lecturer in the Arts Management Programme at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) Dr Noria Tungang said the webfilm is the best platform to unite Iban families using all the messages of family and traditions as blessings.

“The process of creating this webfilm gave me a lot of experience on how to do things better. I have learnt a lot of things from this project especially how to manage our time.

“The highlights that I want to share is teamwork, how successful we all in the team (were able) to finish according to schedule,” she said.

Zahariah (right) and Petronas Sarawak General manager Zulaihi Mohd Mentali (left) beating the drum to launch the Baju Burong Apai Gawai 2019 webfilm.

Petronas Group Strategic Communications Senior General Manager Zahariah Abdul Rahman said Petronas was glad to pay homage to two major cultural celebrations in Sabah and Sarawak where the company has been growing alongside their people and communities.

“We bring two stories that mirror one another. They are about family, tradition and our commonly shared values as Malaysians, yet presented in distinctive manners to be uniquely Sarawakian and Sabahan,” she said.

Petronas also produced a webfilm for Sabah’s Pesta Kaamatan 2019. — DayakDaily