Against This Messy World

TitleAgainst This Messy World
DirectorAW See Wee
ProducerAW See Wee
EditorSean Shao Chi YAP
MusicYII Kah Hoe
Year of Production2023
VDP Selection YearLaugh!-2023
Screen Time26min17sec
LanguageMandarin, English, Malay


“Against this Messy World” is a deeply introspective and visually captivating short documentary that delves into the heart and soul of artistic expression within Malaysia’s complex political and societal landscape. A personal exploration, narrated by Malaysian artists, this documentary takes viewers on an evocative journey to understand the essence and purpose of being an artist in a world marked by chaos and uncertainty and piece together conversations and unfiltered moments in their lives.

Aw See Wee


Aw See Wee was born into a ceramic making family in Malaysia. He studied filmmaking at the National Taiwan University of Arts. His film works mostly focus on human relationships as well as social phenomenon. Former works has been screened at festivals such as Camerimage, FAJR Film Festival, Cinema-Verite, Clermont-Ferrand, Busan (BISFF), and Oaxaca Filmfest. By exploring different ways of storytelling, See Wee is currently developing a fiction feature film as well as documentaries and animation. Aside from directing See Wee is also involved in many projects in location sound, sound design & cinematography that have helped him to experience more and improve on his visual and audio storytelling skills. He was also the guest lecturer at the New Era University College and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS).

Rina B. Tsou

Assistant Director

Rina B. Tsou is a Filipina-Taiwanese filmmaker who graduated from the Motion Picture Department of National Taiwan University of Arts. Having spent her life first in Manila, then in Taipei, and now in Kuala Lumpur, a multiracial and multilingual journey of homes has immersed her in east and south-east Asian cultures. This upbringing has helped her develop visions towards her film creations and deep empathy toward migrant welfare and human rights. These she has applied to issues raised in her films, showcased in international festivals such as Cannes, Busan (BIFF), MoMa Doc Fortnight, and the acclaimed Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan. Based in Kuala Lumpur, she is currently working on both fiction and documentary films, exploring possibilities of different narratives. Rina also devotes herself to social work and movements engaged in migrant issues; from regular visits caring for stateless children in Taiwan; to talks and community exchanges; to creative workshops for children and youth in typhoon disaster areas in the Philippines; and to forming alliances with migrant youth in Taiwan.

Interview with the Director

Why did you make this documentary?
How did you come to work on this theme?

I always wonder, why do people make art? Growing up Malaysia society, we are often told that art is something that you don’t want to do. It doesn’t make you money nor bring you fame. So why bother? I began my journey for this documentary with many questions, encountering different styles and backgrounds of Malaysian artists and having some conversations with them.

They, fellow artists, remind me the filmmaker, to have a voice and do something.

Commentary from the Screening Committee Members

Yamamoto Hiroyuki

Associate Professor, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University, Media Studies 

This documentary depicts four artists from across Malaysia, a multi-ethnic society. It provides a glimpse on the production processes and behind-the-scenes of these artists, who also have fans here in Japan. Each has their own language, ethnic background, and genres, yet they continue to create within the same shared space. As we follow each one, connections between humans and water, history, and memory, the rural and the urban gradually spill out, highlighting the particular characteristics of Malaysian society which lets them strive toward the same goal even when not working together.

Edward Paciano Delos Santos Cabagnot

Film Educator, Festival Programmer, Writer, Artist

Against this Messy World” is a visually arresting documentary celebrating Malaysian creativity -one that cuts across racial divides as well as different art forms.  At the heart of this engaging panorama on community-based culture are its generous subjects -the Chinese Malaysian experimental musical artist, the Indian Malaysian thespian and performance artist, and a Kampung-based printmaking commune. The work is playful in an organic manner with a storytelling style that allows for many pleasant surprises. It succeeds in projecting the diverse colours of the Malaysian arts and culture scene. But more importantly it presents how each hue contributes to a notion of unity in Diversity.

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