Wednesday, March 9, 2016


By Mansor Puteh

Here is a photo of me shot in Figueira da Foz, Portugal in September, 1990 when my feature film called, ‘Seman: A Lost Hero’ was selected by the festival which also nominated for best feature film.

An American film which had nudity and sexually explicit scenes won. My film had no chance at all.

I have attended many film festivals abroad and I know with some confidence in what I am saying here that the festival organizers and directors would not dare to accept.

But does this mean that the film industries or cinemas of the countries in Asia and in Malaysia would thrive more if their filmmakers had not bothered to care about what the festivals in Europe expect them to do? Maybe.

Did Venice, Cannes and Berlin and their copycat film festivals in Asia cause the collapse of the national film industries in Asia?

And did the Malaysian Film Festival organized almost thirty years ago for the first time also caused the film industry to become lame and the directors not able to do much with the audiences feeling confused?

For one thing; the films that are said to be good are only so for so few people, the selection committee of the respective film festivals and later the members of the jury.

So no wonder most of the films that had won awards in those festivals only gave the directors and also producers and sometimes, their actors some moments of exhilaration and fame, but many soon found out that it was not worth it.

Many directors who had won awards for their films had their careers cut short.

And it also happened in Malaysia, where a director could get the ‘most promising film director award’ but he often does not get any chance to direct his next film, and those who had won the best director awards, too, found that they got the same luck.

And those who managed to direct their next film found that they had to compete with themselves which they found much to their chagrin that it would be futile.

Film directors everywhere find that the awards they have been given can most of the time cause their careers to be stagnated or collapse.

For the Old Malayan Cinema and those of in the region, they soon experienced a decline and the cinemas or film industries that we see in Malaysia and Indonesia as well as the Philippines cannot thrive.

It is therefore ironic how the film festival organizers in Europe especially thought that by having their festivals they could highlight some films they thought deserved to be mentioned or highlighted.

But little did they know that their kind act, turned out to be a disaster to the cause they thought they were serving.

The Melayu film industry was doing okay for a long while attracting attention from the viewers in Malaya or Tanah Melayu, and the other industries in the neighboring were all doing okay.

Unfortunately, when American distributors started to enter the country to bring with them the films produced by Hollywood the local film industry started to suffer.

In the end the industry we used to have based in Singapore simply vanished.

Attempts to revive it with a new concept also fail miserably.

And the more the entertainment media continues to highlight the best films that had just won awards in the festivals in the west, the more they knock nails into the coffin of the Malaysian cinema.

And what use is there for the Malaysian Film Festival is held every year? Not much.

But when it was first introduced it became a strong center of focus for the film industry; but unfortunately, it was dominated by those who are not qualified and who were mostly those from the old generation so they took all efforts to highlight them.

However, one by one, they go and so now they are not prominent anymore as the last twenty-seventh edition of the festival that took place on 3 September, 2015 proved.

And even when this last edition was held, it was not organized in the right and proper manner; there is no focus on the latest achievements that the industry had achieved over the last year.

And there were no forums or seminars and also exhibitions held that they had earlier that drew large crowds of people who wanted to take part in the forums, especially.

But they still did not know what to discuss then as they do now. They never will because they are not qualified; they have only been given the authority by the government to do whatever they please and there is no one who could tell them if they are doing a good job or not.

And they are lucky the opposition has not bothered with them because they do not have anyone who is interested in the arts or film to know what sorts of wrongdoings that Finas and the ministry of information had done all these years.

The opposition did not realize that hundred of million of ringgit have been spent on Finas to develop the film industry but they still fail, because they are not qualified to undertake the task.

And more than three decades have passed since Finas was formed, yet, they are not even willing to organize a special forum to discuss what they had done all these years.

They fear the better qualified people who can tell them that they have not been doing anything other than for the officials to attend international film festivals and markets abroad at huge expense without them ever able to bring anything back to benefit the industry.

The officials of the film agency and those in the ministry concerned are not concerned if the industry they are entrusted to help develop because they are never part of it; because they know when they leave their jobs no one will ever acknowledge their contribution to it, since there isn’t any that they can show or tell the public and country.

They don’t even car if the film festivals had indeed caused the Malaysian film industry to suffer. Because they cannot see it that way. They do not know what the international film festivals are about and what to do with the film industry in Malaysia.

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