The Big Durian

Director: Amir Muhammad
Screenwriters: Amir Muhammad

Institute History

  • 2004 Sundance Film Festival


The durian is an exotic, lush, and decidedly ambiguous fruit that provides the perfect metaphor for Amir Muhammad's innovative concoction of fact and fiction. On October 18, 1987, a date that remains in the Malaysian consciousness, a soldier went berserk with an M-16 in the Chow Kit area of Kuala Lumpur. The shootings caused citywide panic and prompted a rash of rumors that race had incited the violence. But what really happened? Why was Kuala Lumpur primed and ready to blow? What happened in the aftermath? Muhammad approaches many people—some real, some not—in an exacting effort to recreate and recapture not only these events but also the incendiary atmosphere that existed in Malaysia at the time.

Muhammad's unconventional approach, including a varied palette of visual elements and a distinct sense of humor, results in an exhilarating film experience that provides a unique insight into contemporary local politics and life in a place we know painfully too little about.

— Diane Weyermann

Screening Details


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