Yasmin Ahmad (July 1, 1958 - July 25, 2009) was a critically-acclaimed multi-award winning film director, writer and scriptwriter from Malaysia and was also the executive creative director at Leo Burnett Kuala Lumpur. Her television commercials and films are well-known in Malaysia for their humour, heart and love that crosses cross-cultural barriers, in particular her ads for Petronas, the national oil and gas company. Her works have won multiple awards both within Malaysia and internationally.
Early life and career
Yasmin was born in Kampung Bukit Treh in Muar, Johor on July 1, 1958. A graduate in arts majoring in politics and psychology from Newcastle University in England , she worked as a trainee banker in 1982 for two weeks. After that she worked for IBM as a marketing representative while moonlighting as a blues singer and pianist by night. Yasmin began her career in advertising as a copywriter at Ogilvy & Mather. In 1993 she moved to Leo Burnett as joint creative director with Ali Mohammed and eventually rising to executive creative director at Leo Burnett Kuala Lumpur.
Her first film was Rabun in 2002. Yasmin's films have won many international awards and praise from the critics and public alike. Most of her films have been screened at the Berlin, Sa Francisco, Singapore and Cannes (film market) international film festivals. Her films were featured in a special retrospective at the 19th Tokyo International Film Festival in October 2006. An April 2007 retrospective of her feature films was sponsored by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, University of Hawaii, and the Honolulu Academy of Arts. In Singapore, Yasmin is best known for the pro-family commercials she did for the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports. Yasmin was inducted into the Malaysian Advertising Hall of Fame by the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents Malaysia in November 2008.Yasmin was working on her first feature film to be filmed in Singapore titled, "Go, Thaddeus!" when she passed away. This was to be an inspirational film for the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, based on the book, "Running the full distance: Thaddeus Cheong" by Belinda Wee about Singapore's 17 year old National triathlete who passed away after completing the 2007 SEA Games time trial.
On Thursday, July 23, 2009, Yasmin suffered a stroke and remained motionless, seated, she was resting her head on the table, with her hands cupping her face, while attending a meeting with local artist Siti Nurhaliza and her husband Khalid Mohamad Jiwa, and Media Prima representatives for an undisclosed project at Sri Pentas, TV3. Before the meeting, she spent some time with Media Prima's group creative director, Peter Chin and was reported to be in a jovial and relaxed mood.
She was rushed to the Damansara Specialist Hospital where she underwent a neurosurgery procedure to reduce the swelling in her brain. The operation was a success however her condition was considered critical but stable. Bernama quoted her brother-in-law, Zakaria Zahari, as saying that Yasmin had suffered a stroke and hemorrhaging in the brain.
On Saturday, July 25, 2009, more than 48 hours after the surgery, Yasmin Ahmad succumbed to her injury and was pronounced dead at 11.25pm. On Sunday, July 26, 2009, Yasmin Ahmad was laid to rest at the USJ 22 Muslim Cemetery in Subang Jaya, Selangor. Her husband, Abdullah Tan Yew Leong, their immediate families, hundreds of fans, friends, industry colleagues and personalities gathered to bid her farewell.
"Love, courage, passion will always b..... to yasmin ahmad.. alfatihah"