Jo Kukathas is one of the six Malaysians interviewed in Future Expressions.
Jo Kukathas is one of the six Malaysians interviewed in Future Expressions.

Future Expressions is a 30 minute documentary featuring six Malaysians from different fields: Jo Kukathas, Douglas Lim, Nathaniel Tan, Anurendra Jegadeva, Suhaili Micheline and Russell Curtis. Produced by Seeing Eye Films, the documentary captures the group – comprising an actor/director, comedian, political activist, artist, dancer and musician – talking about their experiences, fears, and aspirations. The result is an endearing portrayal of Malaysians that goes beyond mere caricatures and stereotypes.

While our Facebook timelines may be flooded with funny or feel-good videos, this documentary is instead a contemplation of what it means to be Malaysian. Candid individual interviews are interspersed with scenes of group interaction. The film was directed by Gary Liew who previously produced Legend, a sci-fi, paranormal movie.

Future Expressions deftly navigates through perspectives on social, racial, religious and political issues by balancing the general pessimism with humorous and poignant anecdotes. “I think it’s healthy to talk about it [race]” says fine art artist Anurendra. “We can accept that we are pendatang, but for how much longer?” Musician Russell Curtis chimes in on his mixed heritage: “I am Indian, Burmese, French, Portuguese, Chinese. What does that make my kids? Malaysian.”

Some of the interviewees talk about how they hope their role in the arts will shape the future. For stand-up comedian Douglas Lim, comedy is an escape, but also a call to arms against apathy. For Instant Café Theatre founder Jo Kukathas, the theatre grants her a sense of belonging in a country that felt alien after living abroad. The theatre is, according to her, “the margins that accept you”.

Dancer Suhaili Micheline talks about channeling political fears and regrets into dance, while political commentator and activist Nathaniel Tan encourages people to become more politically aware. “The question of whether there is hope for Malaysia or not is really a question of choice,” he says.

Audi Bin Ali