Remi M Sali
Director and Writer
Remi M Sali has more than 20 years of experience creating long and short works, ranging from music videos to movie features. He is known for pushing boundaries when creating Malay content. His portrayal of Malays on-screen has universal appeal, and his works provide Malays with a rare platform to showcase their individuality rarely seen in mainstream media.
Pre-millennium, he passionately contributed to the budding Singapore film scene together with his long-time collaborator Dzul Sungit. Their short film eddy was Special Jury Prize co-winner at Singapore International Film Festival 1994. They proceeded to win the Best Director Award for their short film INfluence a year later. In 1998, they made their first feature movie OffCentre, an adaptation of the acclaimed play from one of Singapore's most successful theatre companies, The Necessary Stage.
Remi was an award-winning trailer producer with Singapore's national broadcaster before he returned to his first love: directing. Effectively bilingual in English and Malay, and currently learning Mandarin, he has directed popular dramas, telemovies, info-ed programmes and art series for local television. He was a nominee for Best Director Award at Pesta Perdana 2015 for the telemovie Abah. Remi has helped propel non-actors into the limelight and directed popular food-related shows such as Cinta Kek, Delicatessen and Masak Mini for Mediacorp Suria.
His experience in the industry was evident when he was invited to be one of the mentors for AKSI! (2018). The joint production between Singapore Mediacorp Suria and Radio Television Brunei featured him leading a team of aspiring filmmakers to produce a short film. He was also on the judging panel for “My Singapore New Norm” Micro Film Competition 2022, jointly held by the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations, Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre and Lianhe Zaobao.
Remi's fervour for telling inclusive stories of race, language and religion resonates in his latest independent films - Konpaku (2019) and Not My Mother's Baking (2020). He is currently working on two other feature films. One is Chimalindinsin, about an Indian, a Malay and a Chinese ghost catchers who are out to catch an elusive mythical spirit in Singapore. Another is DKSG, about a group of Chinese-Christian choir boys who join the national Malay Dikir Barat competition. He is also working on several projects that focus on interfaith concerns, which includes a talk show, A Matter of Taste.
Remi M Sali
I have a confession.
I was brought up to think that we Malay-Muslims were 'purer' than the Chinese. Why? Because the Chinese eat pork and touch dogs, both a huge no-no in Islam.
When I was in secondary school, I once freaked out during my lunch break at the school canteen. My Chinese classmate had innocently put a chicken dumpling onto my plate for me to try. I yelled at him, saying it wasn't 'halal'. All eyes were on us, teachers and students alike. He was embarrassed by my outburst. I felt bad, but also flustered that my lunch was 'tainted'. No amount of 'Bismillah' could salvage it, I felt.
Looking back, I wish I wasn't so judgemental, self-righteous and uptight.
To that Chinese classmate of mine, Wenyao, please accept my sincere apology!
NOT MY MOTHER'S BAKING is my love note to address some sensitivities pertaining to race and religion in Singapore. We push ourselves to carefully weave in issues that might have otherwise been swept under the carpet or left unspoken, especially in local films.
Working on this romantic comedy was itself an eye-opening journey. There were many instances where the cast and crew got concerned at how far we should push the boundaries. For instance, our Malay producer wondered if we should substitute the roasted pig at the hawker stall with a styrofoam one! As the director, I was mindful to only capture actions that I could personally justify and fight for.
We are proud to feature a lot of firsts in this indie movie.
It is the first Singapore movie to feature an English-speaking Malay family as leads. We are blessed to have real mother-and-daughter Celebrity Chefs Siti Mastura Alwi and Sarah Ariffin to play as themselves. They were joined by real father-and-son talents Zack Zainal and Benjamin Zainal, who flew to Singapore all the way from Dubai.
Singapore is the first country in the world to allow Ustazahs (women religious leaders) to lead conversion to Islam sessions for men. This role is traditionally reserved for Ustazs (male religious leaders) only. We are privileged to showcase this momentous breakthrough for gender equality in Islam in this movie.
NOT MY MOTHER'S BAKING is a movie meant for all the Malay-Muslims and the non-, the Wenyaos, and everyone else in between.
Ho Pak Kin 何伯乾
Economics & Finance lecturer turned media entrepreneur Ho Pak Kin shares his wealth of experience managing the team, having an extensive background working in Australia and New Zealand.
Pak Kin manages the finances and leads the business development team at Studio59 Concepts, which he co-founded with Remi M Sali. He inspires the team to constantly evolve with the ever-changing digital media landscape and creates visionary new ways to fund and deliver original content to current and new audiences.
Pak Kin’s first film project is a community-led and independently produced documentary, Different Shades of Pink (2001), which provides an intimate and in-depth look at cross-cultural love and stereotypes in Sydney.
His second independent film project, Konpaku (2019) was produced on a micro-budget, had its World Premiere at the Udine Far East Film Festival 2019 and went on to grace the screens at the Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival 2019 and Cambodia International Film Festival 2020.
Pak Kin’s third independent film project, Not My Mother’s Baking (2020) was much more ambitious in its vision and scope. Yet, it was still successfully produced with a very limited budget and funding support from multiple corporate sponsors in cash and in-kind. The movie is a provocative social commentary and made waves with the World Premiere at the Singapore International Film Festival 2020 and the International Premiere at Poland’s Five Flavours Asian Film Festival 2020. The film was picked up by Filmgarde Cineplexes and Cineplex Development Company for theatrical distribution in Singapore and Taiwan, respectively. The movie won the Religions Through Women’s Eyes Award and was nominated for the New Gazes Award at the 24th Religion Today Film Festival 2021 in Italy. It was also one of the four finalists for Best Feature Drama at the 3rd Muslim Film Festival 2021 in Australia.
Apart from films, Pak Kin recently produced an award-winning travelogue series Ole Ole Temasya (2014–2016). Spanning two seasons, the popular series was much talked about. The 1st season showcases 8 festivals in 8 different Asian countries. The team outdid themselves with the 2nd season and did the impossible with the same limited budget, this time covering 8 festivals across 8 different European countries.
Pak Kin’s fervour for telling inclusive stories that celebrates diversity resonates in all his current and upcoming projects.
Ho Pak Kin 何伯乾
Executive Producer's Statement
Not My Mother’s Baking appeals to progressive viewers who yearn for content that everyone loves to watch, but nobody dares to make. It deals with enduring themes of love and acceptance, the definition of halal in food and conduct, reaffirmation of the bond between a mother and her daughter, fused with an unconventional storyline which celebrates interracial romance that captures the true Singapore identity.
Language is the key ingredient that sets Not My Mother's Baking apart from other Singapore-produced movies. For the first time ever, an English-speaking Malay family takes centre-stage, with a fluid switch to Bahasa Melayu when it fits the scene. Viewers are in for a surprise as the movie is narrated in Mandarin, from Mr Tan’s perspective. The style is at once uniquely Singaporean, yet easily relatable and accessible to viewers in the region while enhancing cultural intrigue for international audiences.
Mother-and-daughter Celebrity Chefs Siti Mastura and Sarah Ariffin are already well-known in Singapore and Malaysia. They are joined by former television hunk and 1989 Manhunt champion Zack Zainal, making his screen comeback to act with his son Benjamin Zainal, who makes his screen debut as Sarah's brother. The mother-daughter and father-son pairings is a first for a local movie and possibly in the region. Vincent Tee and Lim Mei Fen add more star power, with their impressive acting credits in Singapore and Malaysia respectively.
Not My Mother’s Baking is much more ambitious in its vision and scope compared to our previous independent movie Konpaku (2019). Yet, it was still successfully produced with a very limited budget and funding support from multiple corporate sponsors in cash and in-kind.
In the movie, we see Chef Sarah producing baking videos. These unique and valuable tutorial videos are separately produced and will be made freely available.
Art Director & Editor
Dzul Sungit directed crime drama series for Singapore's television network Mediacorp, such as Mata-Mata, CrimeWatch and 9 Nyawa.
He was the editor of two Dutch feature documentaries - Sayed, Soccer Talent, which won Honourable Mention at the Gulf Film Festival in Dubai, and Voordeel van de Twijfel, which premiered at the Dutch Film Festival. He gained experience directing in 16 countries for 2 seasons of the local travelogue OIe Ole Temasya and won Best Scriptwriting Award during Pesta Perdana in 2017 for the first season.
His independent feature documentary I Hugged the Berlin Patient (with co-director Edgar Tang) was broadcast on MTV Latin America and won the Excellence Award at the Canada Film Festival. In 2019, Remi M Sali’s Konpaku, of which Dzul was the Director of Photography, was shown at the Far East Film Festival in Udine, Italy. In 2020, they paired up again with Dzul as Art Director and Editor for the feature film Not My Mother’s Baking.
Currently, Dzul lives in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, where he works as a freelance director/editor.