6 Award-Winning Malaysian Movies You’ve Never Heard Of

The Big Durian (2003)


Awards won:

  • Vancouver International Film Festival – Dragons and Tigers Award – Special Mention
  • Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival – New Asian Currents – Special Mention

A docudrama written and directed by veteran Amir Muhammad, The Big Durian is the first Malaysian film to be an Official Selection at the Sundance Film Festival. Its subject matter being the 1987 shooting, its mix of fictional and factual narrative is an unconventional take on a true incident. Despite its controversial topic, the movie became a milestone in the Malaysian local cinema, making Amir an “informal ringleader of a new generation of cinematic taboo-busters“.

Ice Kacang Puppy Love (2010)


Awards won:

  • Wau Awards 2013 – Best Movie, Best Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Art Design

With Ah Niu as director, writer, main star, and composer, Ice Kacang Puppy Love is a Chinese-language romantic comedy set in the 80s. It may look like just another romcom, but it managed to sweep wins in several categories in a local awards ceremony. Not to mention its 81% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Bunohan (2011)


Awards won:

  • ASEAN International Film Festival and Awards – Best Screenplay
  • Five Flavours Film Festival – New Asian Cinema – Special Mention
  • Golden Horse Film Festival – NETPAC Award

Taking place in the eponymous town, Bunohan is a story of three estranged brothers whose fates have been tragically intertwined in a web of deceit and corruption. Written and directed by Dain Said, a London-educated filmmaker who infused brutal realism and mythological fantasy into one kick-ass film.

Papadom (2009)


Awards won:

  • Malaysian Film Festival – Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Film, Best Original Music, Best Story

Directed, written and starring local funnyman Afdlin Shauki, Papadom is a tale of a father who left behind his successful nasi kandar business in order to get closer to his daughter. This family drama, named after an Indian crispy wafer snack, achieved both critical and commercial success in Malaysia.

The Kid From The Big Apple (2016)


Awards won:

  • 7th Macau International Movie Festival – Best Writing, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Newcomer(s)

A fish-out-water story of a 12-year-old girl who lived in the Big Apple (New York City, where else?) all her life, and one day had to move in with his conservative grandfather in Malaysia. Written and directed by Jess Teong who had her fair share of experience as a model, singer, actor, producer and director.

Lelaki Harapan Dunia (2014)


Awards nominated:

  • Hong Kong International Film Festival – FIPRESCI Prize
  • Kolkata International Film Festival – NETPAC Award
  • Locarno International Film Festival – Golden Leopard – Filmmakers of the Present
  • Singapore International Film Festival – Silver Screen Award

Also known as Men Who Save the World, this is a comedy written and directed by local indie filmmaker Liew Seng Tat. It portrays the hilarious outcome of an African immigrant’s shadow being mistaken as a ghost in a quaint Malay village.