…PRIME MINISTER NAJIB RAZAK HAD GIVEN A STRONG HINT OR EVEN A CHALLENGE THAT MALAYSIAN FILMMAKERS SHOULD STRIVE TO MAKE OSCAR-WORTHY FILMS.
By Mansor Puteh
It is too bad that Finas which has been establish in 1981, yet till today it has not bothered to get qualified people in the country to study what he has managed to do thus far.
And because it has never been put under the radar of the opposition, they are able to do pretty much what they thought they could do without ever being held to account.
Initially, the first director-general, Ismail Zain said they were facing ‘teething problems’ but till now the same agency which he had passed down to about half a dozen people to hold the same post, is still facing ‘teething problems’ which it can never solve because all of them are not properly trained in film to be able to solve them and to take the national film agency further.
It should not be too difficult if they know how, and if they had taken the right initiative the country would have got a few of the Oscars by now and the New Malaysian Cinema could have been launched long ago that could benefit the whole country and all unnecessary and repetitive social, cultural and pseudo-political matters and issues would have been dealt with in the form of cinematic expression and not taken to the streets by some familiar and regular agitators.
Unfortunately, this has not happened and Finas does not seem to care with the cinema that they do not know what to make of and has taken everybody on a very long and expensive road to nowhere.
They are seen to be busy and doing something each time there is a Malaysian film festival. This seems to be the highlight of Finas; other than that, they are not doing anything and existing much like a parasite to television where things happen all the time.
And if this cannot be done chances are they fear a lot of things that could be surfaced that do not sound good for them, which they did not want the public and even ministry to know of.
So all this while Finas has been in existence without any real reason to exist. It does not even have a philosophy.
The government has spent so much money to get it off the ground in 1981 till now, yet, not one of its senior officials have said how they would want to see the country get its first Oscar even it is for Best Foreign Film.
We were surprised that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had to say so in his speech which was read out by a representative at a function recently, that should have been said by anyone from Finas or the ministry of information.
Unfortunately, even till today I have not heard of Finas taking up on this queue, by first forming a special committee to see how this can be done and achieved and if Finas can give a specific period when the first Oscar can be brought back to the country and in what means and by who.
From what many can see Finas has been turned into a travel agency for its senior officials to attend film festivals and markets without ever really benefiting it.
If they had benefited from the festivals and markets then surely we can see many films from
being snapped and shown worldwide. Malaysia
It is also sad how Finas has failed to send not one of their staff to pursue specific degrees in film management at any university in the country and abroad; the problem could be due to the fears that the senior officials may have which is how their jobs could be taken away from them.
So for more than thirty years since Finas was formed, no one from the film agency has been given such opportunity that can benefit not only Finas but also the film industry.
Lastly I do hope Finas can bring in some of the better qualified Malaysian filmmakers to sit in a special committee to study where Finas has failed and where it can succeed, and to ensure that an Oscar can come our way soon.
By right Finas should have been developed in such a way that it is self-dependent and which does not require any government funding anymore, so that it can be income-generating.
If they had managed to do this, i.e. by enlisting the qualified people in the film industry, it could have produced better-trained film directors who can deliver and in the process take the industry to the right direction so that those who want to enter it for fun will be rejected.
And Malaysia would have a few Oscars by now with some of the directors having gone on to do better things, taking with them better stories of Malaysia to share with the world and also to help change the development of Old Hollywood.
So when does Finas plan to get the country its first Oscar and who do they think can help them do that for them?
And what is their creative strategy and philosophy that they can come up with to ensure that whatever they do supports these?
If they can’t even come up with anything that sounds like a strategy or philosophy all this while than one can charge them for wanting only to exist on a day-to-day basis without any good reason to exist in the first place.
And this is not good. Fortunately for them they are not under the radar screen of the opposition and some NGOs because they did not think that Finas is too big for them to waste their time on.
But don’t they realize that Finas takes up a lot of money from the government each year without it pumping back anything to it.