Dendam Gadang’s Premiere in Miri

banner for Dendam Gadang outside Pustaka Miri

There aren’t many Iban films being produced here. When I heard that Dendam Gadang premiere is held in Miri, I was curious and excited. My husband and I decided to show our support by buying tickets to the premiere.

Dendam Gadang premiered at Auditorium Pustaka Miri on 9th May 2017 (Tuesday). The event was organized by Tujuh Warisan, JCI Sibu Jaya, and JCI Lutong. Tickets were priced at RM 50, RM 30 and RM 20; I purchased mine from Steven Hii of Staven Event Management Sarawak.

My husband and I are movie buffs, although our tastes and preferences may not be similar. Each time a movie ended, we would pretend to be film critics and dissect the movie as if we have degrees in film studies! Apart from Hollywood movies, I also like to watch foreign movies (from Europe and countries all around the world). Yes, I watched Bollywood films too.

Dendam Gadang Premiered at Pustaka Miri’s Auditorium

stepping on rainbows

I often hang out at Pustaka Miri during my free time. Whenever I ascended the airy semi-circular staircase, I enjoyed stepping on the ‘mini rainbow beams’ strewn all over the floor and staircase. I love rainbows! I’m pretty sure the library security are already familiar with my antics. There are large mirrors on one side of the staircase and glass structures on many sides of Pustaka Miri; those delightful ‘mini rainbow beams’ were produced by one of those refracting surfaces.

red carpet event in Pustaka Miri

On the evening of May 9th (2017), the usually muted and subdued atmosphere of my favourite haunt transformed into a glamorous set. No rainbow beam in sight; instead, the lobby was buzzing with excitement and camera flashes. By 7 pm, guests started to enter the lobby in their flashiest attire.

Below: A lady in red ascending the stair. To avoid stepping on her ‘tail’, I stayed a few steps behind.

lady in red ascending the stairs

A band serenading incoming guests with their soothing voices:

a band performing at the foyer of Pustaka Miri

Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the bluest one of them all? That evening I ditched my usual t-shirt and jeans attire for a more feminine look.

selfie in front of the big mirror

Dendam Gadang, translated as ‘the revenge of Gadang’, tells a story about an Iban warrior named Gadang who avenged his sister’s murder.

According to the press statement, the launching of Dendam Gadang here is to encourage and promote the development of local Sarawak film and creativity. The launch was organized by Tujuh Warisan, JCI Sibu Jaya, and JCI Lutong. They wish to promote local culture through the movie.

In his speech, film director Ray Lee mentioned that they came up with their own resources for the movie. Misha Minut Panggau (producer and actress for Dendam Gadang) said they filmed the movie without a script.

Below: Autographed by Cassidy Panggau.

signed by Cassidy Panggau

Cassidy Panggau, the lead actor who took on the role of Gadang, had zero acting experience prior to Dendam Gadang. When asked about his day job, he answered that he’s a mechanic working in Selangor. All actors in this movie are Malaysians.

Cecilia Sman (extreme left) – a journalist from The Borneo Post, approaching film director Ray Lee for some details, while 3 actors of Dendam Gadang posing for cameras. On the extreme right is Cassidy Panggau.

after the premier of Dendam Gadang in Miri

Below: Some guests posed for a picture with Dendam Gadang’s film director, producer, and cast members. Seen in the picture is film director, Ray Lee (5th from right), and film producer (also an actress in the movie) Misha Minut Panggau (lady in black, 11th from the right). Standing beside Misha is her brother Cassidy (holding his child), and Cassidy’s wife, Bidah Pengulu (in a turquoise dress, also an actress in the movie). Cassidy’s wife took on the role of his character’s sister in the movie, whose death he avenged. I can imagine the fun of working for/with family members in a film project!

a group pic in Dendam Gadang Miri premier

I caught Dendam Gadang film director – Ray Lee (pictured below), capturing the glitz and glam of the film premiere using his cellphone. ;-)

film director Ray Lee caught taking pictures of his supporters

Dendam Gadang film producer who also acted in the movie – Misha Minut Panggau (left) smiling for the camera while her brother Cassidy Panggau (seated, the lead actor who plays Gadang) signing an autograph. Ray Lee the film director stood behind him.

Misha Cassidy Ray

Before the film was shown, Misha Minut Panggau performed a lovely Iban song which she co-wrote with Ray Lee. According to her, the song was composed within half-an-hour during an impromptu discussion. Pictured below, Misha getting ready to croon while Ray Lee was strumming his guitar.

Misha Minut singing a song while Ray Lee played the guitar

Dendam Gadang – A Good Effort

Personally, I believe the family / team behind Dendam Gadang has made a good effort, but there is room for improvements. I was expecting to see at least a long house somewhere in the movie though. Nevertheless, I applaud their enthusiastic efforts and noble intentions to promote the beauty of our flora and fauna, as well as the culture of Iban people. We are all aware that it is not cheap to produce a decent movie, and director Ray Lee has mentioned that they came out with their own resources for Dendam Gadang.

What I Look For in a Story

What differentiate a great movie from a forgettable one? I believe that a great concept, a great cast, and a great screenplay are basic ingredients for a good movie. Plot twists are meant to keep things interesting and conflict should always exist (even in a mundane story). A story that just starts, trundles along, and ends exactly the way I expect it to might not excite me as much as a story that has a dramatic ending / killer climax that leave me breathless.

My Hopes

I have a fervent wish to see Iban films continuously improve and at least be on par with other good local films. Nobody says film making is an easy job. The road to success may be spiked with bitter obstacles; but I believe that with hard work, sheer determination, steadfast passion, patience, and blessings from the Almighty, anything is possible. I wish all aspiring local film makers and talents the very best of luck!

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