The Muralz: A Movie Animating Solidarity and Hope

By Rachel Yeoh

November 2023 FOR ART'S SAKE
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GEORGE TOWN’S MURALS take centre stage in The Muralz, a remarkable animated creation featuring a devoted food delivery driver who befriends Pahlawan Nasi Lemak, Rojak Man and Kapten Cendol—the three murals who came to life during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The brainchild of Jeremy Lee, the writer, producer and director, The Muralz is a testament to his unique approach to storytelling at Rawr Pictures. They do not just animate; they dream, envision and weave tales that push the boundaries of imagination. This is why The Muralz is not just another animated creation, but a narrative about love and resilience during the challenging pandemic. Jeremy was deeply moved by the unity and compassion displayed during those trying times and, therefore, wanted to pay tribute to it. 

Azam, the food delivery man.

The lockdowns may be gone, but Jeremy believes that the animation remains relevant, and serves as a symbol of hope and togetherness. “The Covid-19 pandemic was a tough time for all of us, with many struggling to stay afloat during the lockdown. I witnessed compassion and kindness from the people around me. Race, religion and status did not matter—everybody was standing in solidarity to help one another,” he says.

The choice of Penang as the setting for The Muralz is not arbitrary. Jeremy’s deep connection to Penang—its multicultural tapestry and rich history— influenced this decision. The state’s vibrant blend of cultures, breathtaking landscapes, friendly locals and delectable cuisine was, to Jeremy, the perfect backdrop for his vision to come alive.

George Town as the setting for The Muralz animation film.

The 24-minute animated film offers a unique visual world that blends traditional 2D (created using drawn images) and 3D (created using specialised software). These two elements are then rigged and rendered to create what is projected on screen.

The animation was publicly screened during the inaugural Malaysia Animation Film Festival (MAFF) in October at selected Golden Screen Cinemas (GSC) in five cities in Malaysia; Klang Valley, Johor Bahru, George Town, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu, as part of GSC International Screens’ and Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation's (MDEC) efforts to elevate the local movie landscape.

In the scene is (from left) Rojak Man, Pahlawan Nasi Lemak and Kepten Cendol.

Jeremy is hoping for continued growth in this industry within the country. “One of the biggest hurdles in the animation industry is the time and money needed for production. Whether 2D or 3D, animation requires a high degree of talent and accuracy, which can be labour-intensive and brings hefty software costs. Projects can span months or even years because of their complexity. Coupled with this is the persistent issue of securing adequate funding, making the entire process even more challenging.” 

Nevertheless, Jeremy is grateful that his first animated film was supported by government organisations like Penang State Executive Councillor for Tourism and Creative Economy (PETACE) and MDEC. It has also opened up countless opportunities, especially within the creative animation industry. “The financial support from MDEC enabled us to produce high-quality work and showcase the talents of animators in Malaysia,” he adds.

Rachel Yeoh

is a former journalist who traded her on-the-go job for a life behind the desk. For the sake of work-life balance, she participates in Penang's performing arts scene after hours.