When writer and filmmaker Amir Muhammad read about a little-known Jewish community that lived in Penang decades ago, it gave him an idea.
He wondered what it would be like to be a Jewish family living there today, and how its members might practise their faith in multiracial Malaysia. What if, he thought, this fictitious Jewish family had an orthodox son who wanted his family members to be more devout, while they preferred to be more “Malaysian?”
He imagined this might have been similar to the kind of pressure Muslim families felt in the 1970s from their children, who were influenced by a rising Islamism.
He decided to make a film. “It will be called Aku Masih Yahudi (I Am Still A Jew),” he said.
What would the censors think, in a country where Jews are seen as oppressors of Muslims? That does not bother Amir, 38, who hopes to complete the project within a few months.
He makes films, he said, “to amuse myself.” Besides, he already has two films banned by the Home Ministry – The Last Communist and Apa Khabar Orang Kampung (which means How Are The Villagers?), both about the Malayan communist era.