Historical Old Malaya Films Return to Public Malaysian Screens

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For the first time in a decade, films from Old Malaya cinema’s golden era will be screened for the public.

While still behind a little paywall (Malaysia’s subscriber-based satellite TV platform Astro’s partner collaboration with I.E. Entertainment, holder of exclusive licensing rights to the Cathay-Keris library), Malaysian screens will get to enjoy the golden era of cinematic production once more.

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Stills from featured movies | Image Credit: Cathay-Keris Studios for Rojak Daily

Produced from the early 1950s right through to the 1970s, 33 classic Malay-language films have been certified by the United Nation’s Educational Scientific & Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to be a part of the Memory of the World Asia-Pacific Register. Deemed in 2014 as important to the preservation and showcase of Malay heritage, these films are proof of the international-level entertainment and enterprise Malaya once achieved.

Malaya’s time to shine in cinematic spotlight came right after the end of World War II in 1945. After the withdrawal of the Japanese Imperial Army and the return of British forces, Malaya and Singapore saw a foray into a post-war era, driven towards better economic footholds and cultural shifts.

The following quarter-century was filled with movie magic, as the Malay Peninsula found new life and business ventures in entertainment media. Some might say it was the most harmonious a Malaysian-Singaporean cooperation was and would ever be!

With up-and-coming studios and talents vying to succeed in this corner of the world, the Cathay-Keris Studio was founded, among others, via merging companies and growing movie tycoons, further elevating the standard of movie production in Malaya-Singapore localities. Today, their archives preserve these instances of Southeast Asian cinematic excellence, making up one-third of the 91 surviving titles from the era.

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Archival picture of Cathay-Keris Studio execs | Image Credit: News Straits Times

This move to re-broadcast such treasured history is hoped to spur on inspiration for the creative industry as well as reintroduce the heyday of Malaya and its memorable talents.

All the films will be screened after more than 10 years of not being shown on any Malaysian paid television platforms.

“What’s even more special is these films are also a tribute to producers and production giants, as well as big names who’ve graced the Malay film industry such as Nordin Ahmad, Latifah Omar, Hajah Umi Kalsom, Mat Sentul and many others. We hope this initiative will be able to make local works of art always appreciated and not become obsolete,” says vice president for Malay Nusantara Business and Head of Astro Shaw Raja Jastina Raja Arshad, in a statement as noted by Rojak Daily.

Apart from beloved and well-known legacies from P. Ramlee, Malaysia’s best triple threat entertainer, expect other titles such as Pontianak Gua Musang, Sumpah Pontianak, Jula Juli Bintang Tiga, Tunang Pak Dukun, Dang Anom and Chuchu Datuk Merah for a truly eclectic range, untouched as of then by strict, religious-based censor boards!

This cinematic special will run throughout September on all Astro platforms. Fingers crossed more platforms will join in on this truly important cultural showcase bandwagon to preserve Malaysia’s finest instances of true entertainment classics.


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