While the history of Brunei cinema is not exactly rich, its future is certainly bright. Brunei’s first feature film, Gema Dari Menara (Echoes from the Minaret), was released in 1968. Made by Brunei’s Religious Affairs Department for the purpose of Da’wah (propagation of Islam), it tells a cautionary tale centering on one family’s pious son and his rebellious siblings. After that there was little to no filmmaking until Radio Television Brunei (RTB) launched its television service in 1975, but their production was still rather minimal.
Cinema in Brunei experienced something of a renaissance in 2013, when it saw the release of Harlif Hj Mohamad and Farid Azlan Ghani’s feature comedy Ada Apa Dengan Rina (What Is It About Rina?)—the first film using the Brunei Malay dialect to appear on the big screen. After that, two films were released from 2014 to 2015. This year, production in Brunei has grown dramatically, with four films already released (Lagenda Puteri Bukit Tampayan Pisang; Waris; Primajaya; and Ilham Misteri) and four more currently in production.
Regalblue Production, a Brunei company, is currently partnering with the Vientiane-based Lao Art Media Company to shoot Rina 2, the sequel to What Is It About Rina? The film, set in Vientiane and Bandar Seri Begawan, follows a pair of Brunei friends who fall in love with the same Lao girl while in Vientiane on business.
Text by : Gabriel Kuperman