By Jessica Sung
What is a legend? Something mysterious that lifts the boundaries of our imaginations, yet provides us with comfort and reflection.
What colours does the Malaysian jungle hold? It inspires boldness within artists!
In the dramatic action-suspense film Tiger Stripes, you can clearly see the jungle, the legends, and the girl—they represent the relationship between the director, Amanda Nell Eu, and Malaysia. You can see all the fears of a girl growing up on this land, and all the courage to break through these social and cultural constraints.
I think Tiger Stripes is a very powerful story about the uniqueness of women and where women come from.
Films are a form of artistic expression, and this film expresses the feelings of many girls. Every action, every line of the film, makes me reflect on the female experience. It makes me ask myself: that day I became a woman, how exactly did it happen? It makes me face myself as a woman! Being a woman comes naturally to me, but no one ever told me that being a woman can be so diverse!
The wildness of the girl depicted within the film challenges my understanding of being a woman. In being herself, she can be so fiercely free, and yet at the same time she is so bound by society’s definition of gender. This film makes me wonder what exactly does it mean to be a “woman”?
The imagery within Tiger Stripes allows us to get to know “her” a little better. Although it is a horror film, I was really moved by the visual language of the director and scriptwriter. The girl dancing in front of the phone so fearless in her youth, the star stickers, the caterpillar and the frog, and the girls within that sweltering jungle…
You can see the warmth of a woman within all of these. But there is also the tiger prowling through the trees, the gloves hiding the claws, and the visceral bloodthirst of the animal… These are the things we encounter on the road of transformation: the parts of ourselves that we do not know and the parts of us that we fear, no matter our gender.
I hope I have not revealed too much. Director Eu uses these “behaviours” to challenge the “tradition” of family, while also protecting the “journey” of a girl. For Canadian audiences, this must be a very interesting first step in seeing the women of Malaysia!
As the director reminds us: “The thing is, you always do fit in, as long as you know yourself.”
Watch the trailer for Tiger Stripes, which won the Cannes Critics’ Week Grand Prize.
The Vancouver International Film Festival will present Tiger Stripes at 9 p.m. on Saturday (October 7) at the Rio Theatre. For more information and tickets, visit the VIFF website. Jessica Sung is Pancouver’s art director. This is a translated version of her original article in Traditional Chinese.