This is one of the most exciting weeks in Malaysian cinema as two internationally lauded Malaysian films are competing for attention in local cineplexes.
The two are Bunohan directed by Dain Said and produced by Nandita Solomon, and Seefood directed by Goh Aun Hoe and jointly produced by Silver Ant Sdn Bhd and the Al-Jazeera Children's Channel (JCC), with a grant from the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry. Both films opened nationwide on Thursday.
Bunohan, starring Faizal Hussein, Pekin Ibrahim and Zahiril Adzim, had played to full houses and earned promising reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival and Fantastic Film Fest in Austin, Texas.
The film had been picked up by Universal Pictures for distribution and had received the Netpac Award at the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival.
Meanwhile, Seefood was launched at MipTV (Palais des Festival) in Cannes, France, last May and was released in Slovakia, Czech Republic, and South Korea. The rights to Seefood have been sold to distributors in more than 90 countries in North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia.
Bunohan centres on Adil, a young muay thai exponent, who fled a fight-to-the-death duel. Ilham, an assassin who is also Adil's stepbrother, is hired by the organiser of the death match to kill Adil.
Looking for somewhere to hide and recover, Adil and a childhood friend take shelter in a village in Kelantan called Bunohan.
Bunohan is Daim's sophomore effort after Dukun, a film based on the infamous Mona Fandey. Dukun, which was produced by Astro Shaw, however, has not been released due to legal problems.
Seefood centres on two sharks -- a bamboo shark called Pup and his constantly hungry best friend, the Great White Julius.
When the eggs housing his yet-to-be-born "siblings" are taken by poachers from the coral reef they call home, Pup embarks on a dangerous mission on land to rescue them. Fearing for his best friend's safety, Julius decides to go in search of Pup.
Can these two films attract Malaysian audiences to the cineplexes? The answer will be known next week when box-office figures are released.
However, Malaysian film critics have given both films the thumbs up, saying both are among the best local films ever made.
Besides competing against each other, Bunohan and Seefood are also competing against two Hollywood blockbusters -- Disney's John Carter and the animated feature film, The Lorax. Since January, only one Malaysian film had hit box-office gold -- Adnan Sempit 2. It raked in RM6.5 million and is still playing in selected cineplexes.