Stone Turtle

Director Woo Ming Jin / 2022 / Indonesia,Malaysia

The supernatural encroaches on a woman’s simple existence in this FIPRESCI Prize–winning tale of folklore, deception and retribution.

Zahara is a refugee who now calls an isolated Malaysian island home. She makes a living selling turtle eggs and looks after her 10-year-old niece, whose mother was slain as part of an honour-killing ceremony. When their unexceptional life is interrupted by a mysterious stranger who claims he’s doing research on the area’s ecosystem, a mystical loop of violence and deceit ensues.

Regarded as the director’s long-awaited return to arthouse, this engrossing tale from Woo Ming Jin (Girl in the Water, MIFF 2012) is the first Malay-language feature to screen in competition at Locarno. Stone Turtle defies expectations from its opening scene, and boasts striking cinematography and attention-grabbing performances from Asmara Abigail and Bront Palarae. Meanwhile, hand-drawn animation by Studio Ghibli alum Paul Williams illustrates the island’s myth of a stone turtle, whose various interpretations mirror the film itself: there are many ways to tell and retell a story.

“A ferocious combination of layered social drama and cutthroat psychological horror … Daring and provocative.” – International Cinephile Society

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