A team of five Year 2 students from the School of Communication and Creative Arts at UOW Malaysia have achieved an exceptional feat with their documentary, "Heritage Bites: Exploring Nyonya Kuih's Sweet Legacy."
Leonard Hoh, Claudea Yap, Siti Nisa, Low Jie Ern, and Tan Ci Sin surpassed the expectations of their assignment, crafting an insightful piece without any budget constraints. This ambitious project not only earned an A grade but also secured a place at the prestigious South-East Asia Film Festival (SEASHORTS), held on 21 October 2023, at the Central Market in Kuala Lumpur.
The SEASHORTS Film Festival, in its seventh edition, celebrates short-form cinema across South and East Asia. With invitations extended to seven universities, including the University of Nottingham Malaysia, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Sunway University, Multimedia University, Tunku Abdul Rahman University of Management and Technology, IACT, and University of Wollongong Malaysia, the festival received 21 submissions. From these, 11 entries, showcasing the diverse styles and genres from active film schools in Malaysia, were selected to participate.
"Heritage Bites" offers a poignant exploration of the Melaka Baba Nyonya community's cultural heritage through its iconic sweet treat, Kuih. Originating from the blend of Chinese and Malay traditions, Kuih symbolises the multicultural essence of the Baba Nyonya community. The documentary captures the vivid colours and intricate designs of Kuih, representing the harmonious blend of different cultural influences. More than a dessert, Kuih is portrayed as a tangible connection to the community's past, mirroring its cultural identity and demonstrating how cultural heritage can evolve into a globally appreciated cultural experience.
The students' drive to undertake this project stemmed from their curiosity about the Melaka Baba Nyonya culture. Siti Nisa expressed, "As young individuals, we were largely unaware of the rich cultural heritage of the Melaka Baba Nyonya culture. This assignment was an opportunity to immerse ourselves in a culture previously unfamiliar to us." Leonard Hoh added, "Producing a documentary on the food culture of this community seemed the best way to understand it."
The documentary's focus on "Dapur Cho Cho" and "Baba Charlie" highlights the dedication of these establishments to preserving traditional recipes and methods through generations. Their participation in the SEASHORTS Film Festival marked the students' first venture into a regional event, earning them recognition and paving the way for future opportunities.