By Amanda Nell Eu
Malaysia / Indonesia / Singapore / Germany / France
12-year-old Zaffan is an intelligent and free-spirited girl who loves to play in the jungles of her small rural town in Malaysia. Ever curious and daring, Zaffan often gets into trouble with the teachers at school – that is until she starts to experience horrifying physical changes to her body.
While her emotions and urges are constantly flipping from one extreme to the next, Zaffan realises that her body itself is morphing at an alarming and frightening rate. She develops a hideous rash, bleeds from her fingernails and clumps of hair fall from her head. Struggling to maintain being normal at school, Zaffan is in denial of her inevitable changes and tries to cover her grotesque self.
Her transformation and bodily functions however reach a state where she is no longer able to hide it anymore and she is humiliated in front of her whole class. Zaffan’s friends turn against her and attack her, when all hysteria breaks loose – one by one teenage girls drop to the floors in fits, turning it into an epidemic spread of mass hysteria across the whole school. In all the chaos, Zaffan escapes unnoticed.
Rumours of a monstrous figure in the toilets have caused fear to take over the primary school, and a visiting Medical Officer appoints himself in command – his sole mission to save the girls and drive away the demon that is haunting them. Through a series of painful exorcisms on the students, the Medical Officer discovers that Zaffan may be the root of their problems.
But in the nick of time, Zaffan withdraws to the jungle feeling lonely and isolated in an environment that is wild and ruthless. Zaffan dares to dig deeper into the spirit of the land, and she discovers that her own monstrous and carnal body adapts to the life of the jungle naturally.
Meanwhile, terror continues to spread amongst the girls as they struggle to cope with stories of this demon child – even Zaffan’s own parents have fallen to fear her. Pulling her back into the community, the Medical Officer steps in to perform an exorcism on her.
But the exorcism does not work. As spectators demand for results, the Medical Officer is pushed to find extreme methods that shame and physically hurt Zaffan. And like a tiger who has been dragged out of its habitat and poked because we fear it, because we don’t know it – Zaffan decides to finally reveal her true self, her wrath, rage and her beauty, to everyone.
Stories of a tiger roaming the jungles near a small Malaysian town appear on news headlines and social media. It is said that a visiting Medical Officer was mauled to death, and a 12-year-old girl was reported missing, suspected to have been killed by that tiger.
But on nights where the moon lights the forest, young girls run through the jungle. They run, play and dance with another child – not fully human, yet not an animal – but a long-haired girl with the face of a tiger. As a wild creature she leaps gracefully from tree to tree, ready to attack anyone who ever dares to go against her.
Having graduated from the London Film School with an MA in Filmmaking, Amanda has directed short films based in the UK and also Malaysia. Her short “Lagi Senang Jaga Sekandang Lembu“, premiered in competition at the Venice International Film Festival (2017). The film has continued to travel and win awards in many other international festivals, including receiving a Special Mention at the International Short Film Festival Clermont-Ferrand (2018).
Amanda is an alumna of Berlinale Talents Campus and Locarno Filmmakers Academy. She is developing her first feature film Tiger Stripes, set in Malaysia. In her work, she likes to explore the female body and identity within the context of South East Asia.
Cast & Crew
Director / Writer – Amanda Nell EU
Producer– Foo Fei Ling
Co-producers – Yulia Evina Bhara, Fran Borgia, Jonas Weydemann, Juliette Lepoutre
Production – Ghost Grrrl Pictures (Malaysia)
Coproduction – Kawankawan Media (Indonesia) Akanga Film Asia (Singapore) Weydemann Bros. (Germany) Still Moving (France)