This year, Maybank’s Chinese New Year film, “Unspoken Connections,” shines a spotlight on the deaf community, offering a glimpse into their unique experience of celebrating one of the world’s most vibrant, loud and exuberant festivities. The film, created by Grey Singapore, explores their unique perspective amidst a silent world while emphasising the profound significance of sign language in breaking the silence for them.
“Collaborating with the hearing-impaired community is familiar territory for my team. Over time, we’ve developed strong connections through various projects. That’s why I approached Wai Ling to co-direct this project. Her fearlessness and intelligence, evident from our previous encounter, made a lasting impression. She brought a wealth of creative ideas to the set, affirming my belief in her potential as an excellent director,” says Barney Chua, Director of Mojo Films.
Grey Singapore collaborated with production company Mojo Films, the film is co-directed by Barney Chua and Pan Wai Ling, with Lim Bee Chin starring in the leading role.
Pan Wai Ling and Bee Ching, both remarkable: “Talents from the deaf community, offer an authentic and intimate portrayal of their daily realities. The heart of the film provides audiences with the opportunity to step into the shoes of the deaf community and gain a deeper understanding of their world.”
In preparation for the project, the team dedicated themselves to engaging with and comprehending the deaf community. These initial interactions revealed unique insights into the deaf experience in Malaysia, highlighting key themes, particularly during CNY. The production itself was entirely unscripted, led by Pan Wai Ling and other members of the cast and crew from the deaf community who collaborated with the wider team. The resulting footage is a true reflection of their real-life experiences.
“My hope with this film is that it not only showcases the experiences within the deaf community but also underscores the importance of sign language. It’s more than just a mode of communication for us; it’s a lifeline, a bridge that connects us to the world around us,” says Pan Wai Ling, co-director of Maybank’s CNY film.
Graham Drew, CCO of Grey Malaysia & Singapore, said: “According to scientific research, non-verbal communication accounts for 70-80% of our daily interactions. We don’t realise, but we all speak in ‘signs’ every day, suggesting that learning sign language may be easier than we think. It’s time we recognise and embrace this natural aptitude so we can foster a more inclusive society for the deaf community.”
For the agency behind the film, this project transcended the mere act of storytelling; it became a transformative journey of discovery and empathy. From the initial moments of shooting to the poignant final wrap, they embarked on an emotional rollercoaster, confronting communication barriers and gaining newfound insight into the challenges faced by the deaf community.
Amidst these challenges, the team found inspiration in their deaf collaborators, whose passion, dedication, and unwavering enthusiasm illuminated every aspect of the production process. Their invaluable contributions not only enriched the film but also served as a powerful reminder of the resilience and strength within their community.
Shazlina Binti Mohd Suffian, EVP & Head of Group Corporate Marketing of Maybank Malaysia, added: “The deaf community holds immense potential and talent, yet often faces barriers to fully realising their capabilities. At Maybank, we have been working closely with them by offering training and support, empowering them to succeed on their own terms. We hope that this film will serve as a catalyst for greater awareness, inclusivity, and support for the deaf community.”
Agency: GREY Singapore
Chief Executive Officer: Irene Wong
Chief Creative Officer: Graham Drew
Creative Director: Andrew Fong
Senior Copywriter: Megan Ong
Senior Art Director: Lim Poh Yeng
Client Service Director: Jennifer Liew
Senior Account Executive: Haziq Issouffie
AV producer: Suzy Chiang
Film Production: Mojo Films Malaysia
Film Director: Barney Chua
Co-Director : Pan Wai Ling
Executive Producers: Keng Phoo
Producers: Athirah & Sze Kay
Director of Photography: Aidil Razali
First Assistant Director: Boon Theng
Art Director: Chee Kong
Editor: Jefrey Adam
Post-Production: Meccanica EFX
Audio Production: Pitch Audio+Magic