Based on the true story of Teach For Malaysia Alumna, Cheryl Fernando, and how her students beat the odds at a choral speaking competition, Adiwiraku has been selected as a Finalist at the Phoenix Film Festival Melbourne 2017 and a semi-finalist at the Equality International Film Festival 2016. It’s been 5 days since the movie opened in over 50 cinemas nationwide – our Fellows and Alumni share what they think of Adiwiraku, plus scenes from the movie that happened to them in real-life!
“It’s a good movie and I can relate to it because I was once a teacher – and it’s a movie about a teacher!” – Safwan Yusof, 2014 Alumnus
“Actually, I did cry, just that no one knows! This movie is very easy to relate to if you’re a teacher, especially if you’re a Teach For Malaysia Fellow. I relate to the character Constant Wong, because of all the times I tried to support Sharon (another Fellow at my school) during all her choral speaking training sessions.” – Wong Theen Yew, 2014 Alumnus
“There were some parts that reminded me of my students, and I cried. Every Friday we also had ice cream sessions, where the kids who attended training sessions 100% would get ice cream. I love the movie.” – Bavani Subramaniam, 2014 Alumna
“Just like in the movie, in real life we faced the same issues – getting 35 students to join the competition, and there are students who suddenly leave or join in. All the drama was the same! There was one scene where the conductor stormed off; our conductor stormed off during practice before too!” – Sharon Soh, 2014 Alumna
Safwan, Theen Yew, Bavani and Sharon joined the Teach For Malaysia Fellowship in 2014
“As the opening scene of the school highlighted a new school year, it sent chills down my spine. It was the all-too-familiar feeling I haven’t felt in a while now. The title literally translates as ‘My Superheroes’, which carries a deeper and heavier meaning than your average superheroes that exist in imaginary worlds. Heroes really are the ordinary people around us who are doing more than what they think possible. The movie felt so real, that heroes can be literally anywhere only if we take time to observe and understand more. In the movie, the kids were the heroes for the teacher and vice versa.
Watching the film pulled me in all sorts of directions. It was already surreal to see a film about a Teach For Malaysia Fellow on the big screen, let alone to see friends get together specifically to watch this film, and to relate so much to it was another out-of-body experience – especially since I was a coach for my school’s choral speaking team in 2015 with another Teach For Malaysia Fellow who went through the same challenges with absenteeism and helping 36 kids memorise an original script word for word, syllable by syllable… and we also won 5th place, after finally sending a team to compete for the first time in years in school history!
Just watching it all unfold on screen made me question my reality. I remember how absorbed and almost obsessed I was with the things that happened in school. It made me think of the things I wanted to do but never did. It made me remember how happy I could be after a day’s work in my own ‘kampung‘ school. It forced me to reflect and made me remember the crucial extreme happy and sad moments during my teaching Fellowship in Sarawak.
Of all the stories shared in the film, I am pretty sure it was only just a fragment of what the real Cikgu Cheryl went through. The movie had a specific story to tell, and that condensed the drama and emotions into only a crack in the wall. Any teacher would be able to relate one way or another. Suddenly, we feel warm strength slowly flowing back into our veins realising that we’re in schools fighting for the same cause in a way that was our own.
It makes you think – if there was anything significant moment in your time as a teacher to be made into a movie or a book or an animation, what would it be? What would it look like? What were the values that you held throughout, making the choices you made in classrooms; in school meetings; in meetings with parents; in community visits? It makes you think of the challenges you went through and how there are lots of parallels between one teacher’s life and another.” – Huda Nejim, 2015 Alumna
Huda joined the Teach For Malaysia Fellowship in 2015 and taught in a high-need school in Miri, Sarawak
“Watching Adiwiraku was like watching my own kids in action, watching my first few years of teaching on the big screen. The things Teacher Cheryl says in the movie were all the things I know I have said and I know a lot of my teacher friends have said. But it’s more than just a story about teaching and choral speaking. It brings you to a real life setting, shows you how some of our kids live and learn, shows you how we can do our part to help, support and encourage our teachers on the ground who work hard every day trying to give all the opportunities our kids deserve.
I really truly hope everyone who reads this would find the time to catch Adiwiraku. You’ll be inspired, moved and fall in love with the characters (who are Cheryl’s actual students who got to play themselves!). It’s one of those movies where you’ll leave teary-eyed, but hopeful. It’s one of those movies that left me wanting to do more. Catch it before it leaves the cinema!” – Alina Amir, 2013 Alumna
Alina joined the Teach For Malaysia Fellowship in 2013, and co-founded Arus Academy with 3 other Teach For Malaysia Alumni.
If you haven’t gotten a chance to catch Adiwiraku yet, go book your tickets today – show your support for local films, and the cikgus of Malaysia!