By Chui Mui TAN


Drama - Pre-Production

The Year without a Summer is a simple but not so naive film about a village, and how people can live with very little knowledge about the world.

    • Genres
    • Drama
    • Countries
    • Budget
    • 0.3 - 0.6 M$
    • Duration
    • 90 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Chui Mui TAN
    • Writer(s)
    • Chui Mui TAN
    • Producer(s)
    • Seng Tat LIEW
    • Synopsis
    • Azman, a Malay rock singer gives up his singing career in the city and goes back to his village to begin a new life as a fisherman like his late father. His best friend Ali (who remains in the village and became a fisherman just like everyone else) thinks he is ridiculous. Especially since the fishing business is becoming difficult. In fact, the times are difficult for everyone. No one understands why there is less fish in the sea now. Azman is married to his high school sweetheart Minah and they have a 7-year-old son, Mizi. Minah and Mizi remain in the village. Minah runs a food stall and much prefers the life in the village. Mizi is not close with Azman, in fact he feels more comfortable hanging around Ali. Minah doesn’t like the idea of Mizi spending too much time with Ali. It’s not because Ali is a bad influence but it’s because she knows Ali still has feelings for her. Minah is very supportive of her husband’s decision to return to the village for good, even just to become a fisherman. According to him, the record company has canceled his contract and his career as a singer is going downhill anyway. Azman learns fishing from Ali’s father, Pak Besar, who is the village’s most experienced fisherman. Pak Besar tells him that the very first thing to learn is swimming. If he manages to swim to Pulau Ular (the island opposite their village), he is a certified fisherman. Azman spends weeks learning how to swim under Ali’s guidance. He starts in the swimming pool at the nearby resort before graduating to the sea. One day a woman named Ida comes looking for Azman in the village. She works for the recording company that Azman is signed under. It turns out that the recording company had never canceled his album. In fact, his previous album was doing quite well; it was Azman’s idea to change his life. Azman has no choice but to finish up his recording to avoid getting into legal troubles with the recording company. The day comes when he has to go back to the city; he tries to swim to Pulau Ular. He swims for a very long time and finally reaches the island. He can’t believe that he actually makes it. He stands on a rock and looks around. He is all alone.
      TAN Chui Mui was born in 1978 in Sungai Ular, a small fishing village in Kuantan, Malaysia. She is a self taught filmmaker. She has been actively involved in the Malaysia independent film scene, working as producer, editor, production crew, script writer and occasionally actress. TAN Chui Mui is known for her successful first feature film Love Conquers All, which won top prizes in numerous film festivals. Among them are the New Currents award at the 11th Pusan International Film Festival in 2006 and the Tiger award at the 36th International Rotterdam Film Festival in 2007. She is also a very productive short filmmaker. She made 7 short films in 2008 and all 7 of them were screened in a series called All My Failed Attempts at the 38th International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2009. One of the shorts, Everyday Everyday had just won the grand prize at the 21st Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival. In 2005, she setup Da Huang Pictures, a Malaysian production company based in Petaling Jaya with fellow independent filmmakers LIEW Seng Tat, Amir MUHAMMAD and James LEE. Currently she is working on her much awaited second feature film entitled The Year Without A Summer.
      Recently I went back to my hometown, Kampung Sungai Ular, a Malay fishing village in Kuantan, bordering Terengganu on the east coast of Malaysia. I was curious about how the village is doing now. When I was there, I also visited some old friends of my late father. My family was the only Malaysian Chinese family in the village. Like how things work in South East Asian countries, we (the Chinese) were the economy of the village. Almost the whole village worked for my family in the fishing business. We left the village in the early 90s when the fishing business became difficult. I grew up without knowing much of the world outside, and I was also quite ignorant of the people in my village. I thought the Chinese New Year celebration was a family event, because only my family celebrated it; I thought the rain came from coconut trees; I thought there were mermaids in the next village and a tiger-man who disliked children and went around frightening them… I would not call these thoughts of mine naïve; I was totally without a mind, without any ideas or knowledge of the actual world. When I was old enough to go to school, I became obsessive with all the unnecessary knowledge----I once read an encyclopedia from cover to cover. I think I was too curious about the world, and how things work. And now I miss the world I once saw back then when I was a child, when I did not have any idea how things worked. When I saw things for the first time, and the world was new.