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Director Interview of ‘Pendatang’

November 28, 2023 | JAFF18

Ken Kin
Director of Pendatang (Malaysia, 2023)


Pendatang is Malaysia’s first crowdfunded movie. It is a thriller about a Chinese family who discovers a Malay girl hiding in their house, set in a dystopian world where it is a crime for people of different races to mix.

1. How did you come up with the idea of crowdfunding?

The nature of the script requires full creative control and we figured if any studios or investors were to be involved we might risk losing that control, so we considered the crowdfunding platform. It would also let us gauge if people were interested in this kind of genre and story.

2. What was the inspiration for the film?

According to writer Lim Boon Siang, one incident involving a handphone theft in a shopping centre which sparked a racial commotion reminded him how fragile our society is and the consequences if racial tensions are not managed with care.

3. Is JAFF your world premier?


4. Any other interesting perspectives on the film or production?

Most of the budget went into production, so everyone involved only got a fraction of their usual fee. That is a testament of how people are willing to be a part of something meaningful. They really gave everything and I am forever grateful for that, not to mention our backers especially SunStrong Entertainment who is our main backer. Without them this film wouldn’t have been made.

5. What was your first feature directing experience like?

It was the best directing experience ever. Everything fell into place, from pre-production to post. Having like-minded people on board is key, so we spent little time deliberating decisions. Instead we spent all our energy achieving our vision – crucial when we were operating on a limited budget.   

Production background

The script was selected from submissions to a competition held worldwide. It made an immediate impression for the way the tension is maintained throughout the story as the fates of the people involved were hanging in the balance. 

It will premiere on YouTube on 21 December 2023. It is a breakthrough achievement as this mode of production circumvents censorship.

News Contributor: Wong Tuck Cheong

Photos: JAFF Documentation Team & Pendatang Documentation