Sunday, February 14, 2016


By Mansor Puteh

I decided to attend the 27th Malaysian Film Festival awards night, because of the crowd of people many of whom I know but had not met in a long while which turned out to be fun.

I got a vacant seat beside a woman who remembered me because her mother worked at Finas and she had seen me coming over when her mother took her to her office.

But I could not remember her as she had grown up and is now in college. She attended the festival using the invitation issued to her mother and bringing another guest along.

I was lucky to be sitting beside her as I found out this to be the case later, after the festival show was over and I just walked off dropping my camcorder on the floor.

Fortunately, she found it and went out to look for me at the after-festival snack. I had only found out the loss of my camcorder later and rushed to the hall but could not see it anywhere on the floor and gave up.

I returned to the dining hall and she was there with the camcorder bag slung on her shoulder; I was relieved.

If it was not her who was sitting beside me but somebody else, I might not have found the camcorder again. It cost me close to six thousand ringgit to buy it in 2012 to produce a documentary then which I am also using to record anything with.

Unfortunately, the camcorder did not work when I took it to America in April, 2014 so I still do not have any video shot in the country, which I hope to do soon on my next trip back there. 

Although the awards show turned out to be quite sleek and professional but it solely lacks depth.

But at least there were no speeches by the guests and senior officials of Finas like they had in the earlier festival nights.

And the thank you speeches too were short and brief. 

The problem being it was organized not by experts or specialists and historians who would know exactly how the industry had developed if at all, to highlight the salient issues and matters during the show which did not happen.

So in the end the show was one where the highlight is the naming of the winners of the various categories.

This is the problem with the festival organizers and their supporters in the ministry and also Finas for not engaging those who are qualified and formally trained in film to help them organize such a show so that it can be used as a platform to highlight interesting and important developments in the industry the last year, so that we do not see the same people coming up to the stage to give away prizes, when there are many others who can do that and better and with grace and style and mostly credibility.

And this goes with the selection of the members of the jury most of whom have shady backgrounds in film who do not possess formal training in film.

I am the only Ivy League-trained filmmaker of Malaysia, yet I have never been invite to be a member of the jury since I returned from studying film at Columbia University in February, 1982; and all those who have been in the jury are mostly who I do not consider to be people who have interesting views on the cinema, and who have not been known to have written anything related to development of the Malayan and Malaysian Cinema and regional Asean or Asian and also World Cinema to allow anyone to study how good their grasp of the cinema is.

And why was Amy Search invited to sing ‘Isabela’ a song that he recorded years ago? It was not featured in any of the films that was produced the last year or which had been nominated.

There must be another song that can be sung in the film festival night other than this one.

This only proves that the organizers did not care to highlight the developments and achievements of the filmmakers the last year in this festival awards’ night and of the other things. 

As I see it the organization of the film festival has never been done by qualified people who know what film festivals are for and how to highlight important developments in the industry the last one year.

The Malaysian film festival has always been organized by those who seem to care only for the past and to highlight the achievements and participation of the older generation of filmmakers, especially when it first appeared in the early 1980s when there were still many of them from the studios in Singapore with some who had to be invited to come from Singapore where they live and are citizens of the country.

They were given too much attention that those in the younger generation of filmmakers had to make way for them to have some fun that they could not get when they were active in the industry from the 1940s to the 1970s.

But over the years one by one, they leave us and now there are so few of them.

It is sad that none of them had managed to benefit from the establishment of Finas so that they could still work in the industry as actors playing different parts in exciting films, too.

In the end there was no real highlight in the festival night; and there is also no mention of who had done what elsewhere in the same field.

There are some Malaysians who are working in Hollywood but they are not recognized and mentioned.

I hope the film festival next year will be better with more meaningful achievements made by the filmmakers in the country for having done much abroad too.

And who knows if ‘Malaysian Snow’ is produced, chances are it can be the highlight of the film festival then. 

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