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Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival

“Tiger Stripes”, interview with Amanda Eu

todayNovember 17, 2023 5

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Exploring the Monstrous Feminine in Tiger Stripes: An In-Depth Conversation with Director Amanda Nell Eu.

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    "Tiger Stripes", interview with Amanda Eu Laura Della Corte

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In an exclusive interview at the 25th Jio Mami Mumbai Film Festival, director Amanda Nell Eu shared profound insights into her latest film, “Tiger Stripes.” The Malaysian-born filmmaker explored the horrors of puberty and societal apprehensions about the female body in this feminist body horror narrative.

Tiger Stripes” unfolds the story of twelve-year-old Zaffan, played by an exceptional cast, navigating the challenges of adolescence and the terrifying secrets it holds. Eu explained the significance of the film’s title, a metaphor for stretch marks symbolizing the pains and insecurities associated with growing up.

A significant part of Eu‘s work, including her past shorts like “Lagi Senang Jaga Sekandang Lembu” and “Vinegar Baths,” pays homage to the monstrous feminine within the Southeast Asian context. Eu expressed her mission to challenge societal fears surrounding the female body by presenting strong, powerful female characters.

The film, a first for Eu as a full-length feature, holds the distinction of being the first directed by a female director from Malaysia to premiere at the esteemed Cannes Film Festival. Although regional release dates are yet to be announced, Eu remains optimistic about a debut by the end of the year or early next.

Director Amanda Nell Eu (Photo Stephanie Cornfield, @nomadic_mirrors)

During the interview, Eu reminisced about her childhood in Malaysia, steeped in old wives’ tales and stories about mythical figures like the pontianak. These childhood tales became a gateway to her love for horror and cinema. Having moved to the UK for studies, Eu experienced a sense of not fitting in, both there and upon returning to Malaysia after completing her education. However, these experiences have shaped her identity and filmmaking process.

Eu‘s fascination with Southeast Asian female icons, such as the pontianak and the penanggalan, reflects her commitment to celebrating the strength and power within the seemingly hideous aspects of femininity. She emphasized her intention to subvert traditional tropes and empower women through her films.

Tiger Stripes” stands as an eight-country co-production, with funding from Malaysia’s PENJANA and Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority. Eu highlighted the importance of international collaboration, expressing gratitude for the valuable contributions of experienced co-producers and crew members from various countries.

The director revealed that the film’s inspiration was deeply personal, rooted in her own experiences and insecurities during the tumultuous period of puberty. As the narrative evolved, Eu found that the themes of bullying, friendship, and body insecurities remained universally relevant.

Working with a mix of young actors and seasoned veterans, Eu created a tight-knit unit where experienced actors mentored the younger cast. She praised the intelligence and natural instincts of the young actors, creating a collaborative and supportive environment on set.

Looking ahead, Eu shared her plans for the next feature, expressing a desire to challenge herself by creating a film set in 1930s Malaya pre-World War 2. The film will explore mature themes around marriage, expectations of womanhood, and motherhood within a vibrant yet peculiar historical context, infused with elements of horror.

As the interview concluded, Eu reflected on the ongoing journey of self-discovery and empowerment. Her commitment to celebrating characters that defy societal norms and expectations remains unwavering, promising audiences more thought-provoking and empowering narratives in the future.


12-year-old Zaffan reaches puberty when her body begins to morph at an alarming and horrifying rate. In fear of being labelled as a monster, she struggles to maintain being normal at school by trying to conceal her grotesque self… that is until she decides she no longer wants to hide from the world.

Written by: Laura Della Corte


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