Sunday, March 18, 2012


By Mansor Puteh

I am amazed as to how and why those who often review films and the film industry of Malaysia almost always look only at the number of films produced in a year, which has increased significantly, and how much they made, which has also gone beyond the RM10 million ringgit-mark.

Yes, there is even one columnist of an English language newspaper who specializes in writing on this and he can get a job just doing that.

No wonder, what he writes does not attract the attention of even those in the film industry who consider what he writes to be frivolous indeed. Yet, his editor does not seem to care.

And the other film reviewers are not better simply because their perspective on film and the industry in Malaysia is too limited to what they can see and perceive.

Unfortunately, most of them review the plot in the film. They are the plot-reviewers. They are not film reviewers, much less film critics, who often have to write lengthy essays on film and occasionally publish books on the same subject. 

This is in fact, what novice reviewers and analysts do, which is to look at the obvious; they are awed and excite with numbers and box office collection, and nothing else.

But all of them have conveniently neglected to look at is how many of the scores of films produced by Malaysian film companies, that have been selected by international film festivals.

No wonder all of them seem to be happy describing how the Malaysian film industry had progressed with it now being able to produce scores of films each year, even when most of them are of the same type and in the same genres.

None of them had or could be bothered with the fact that so few or no Malaysian film had been invited or selected by international film festivals, to see how the industry had grown and where new Malaysian films have been accepted.

Last year – 2011 – there is only one significant film which was selected, which is ‘Bunohan’, and this year, so far, there is only one, which is a documentary called, ‘Writing in the Sand…on how the Jasmine Revolution of the Arab Spring of 2011 could have been avoided’.

And not surprisingly, the directors of the two films are those who had studied film formally abroad, with ‘Bunohan’ directed by Dain Said in England and the documentary by me, in America.

So it seems that whilst those who had made numerous feature films that had gone on to collect a lot of money at the local box office, none of them had managed to gain recognition internationally.

Some of them could only get recognition in the Malaysian Film Festival where the recognition is not so well recognized internationally.

In fact, none of the films that had won recognition in such festivals has been invited by film festivals abroad.

This should be a huge blow to the members of the jury of the festival which means that their selection has not been endorsed by their counterparts abroad.

The problem is that most of the films that have managed to get a good collection at the box office in Malaysia are those which have Malay elements, and they are presented in a format which was created by Hollywood and other pseudo-Hollywood cinemas, especially those of Hong Kong and India.

In other words, if this can be translated into music, it means that the directors and producers of those Malay films used traditional Malay music but in the new beat such as rock, heavy metal and rap, which attract the attention of the local viewers.

It is ironic how by doing so, the directors are selling the soul of their films so that they do not exhibit Malay traits.

So if these films are dubbed into Filipino or Spanish or other foreign languages, the characters which are essentially Malay can pass for those of the other races.

In the end, history will judge these films to be useless to the cause of the development of the New Malaysian Cinema and of the Malay psyche, if the directors know what we are talking about, and if they care what they are doing.

Most likely they do not, as their only motivation is to produce films which make it at the box office, irregardless of whether they demean their own race and also religion in the process.

They are proud of the fact that their films made money at the box office and if they are lucky, they can get some awards in the Malaysian Film Festival.

They do not have any higher aspiration.

Yet, there is no film reviewer or critic has bothered to talk about this aspect of the cinema, as if it is not important, for films produced by Malaysians to get recognition abroad in international film festivals, so that new images of Malaysia, or the Melayu and Muslims and Islam can be created.


Anonymous said...

kau tu sekolah sekerat jalan. tak pernah graduate. razak maidin dan banyak pengarah yang kerja dengan david teo tu semua mengajar di uitm.

milos forman said...

razak maidin nk buat apa gang?cerita merapu je... pensyarah?budak 23 tahun pun boleh jadi pensyarah

mansups yo said...

tau takpe