By Mansor Puteh
It is not easy for anyone to win an Oscar for any category if he is not American; most of them go to them, with so few going to non-Americans, who can mostly expect to win the one for best foreign film.
Even if one has won an Oscar even for Best Foreign Film, it does not necessarily mean that the person or director and producer can go far.
Many had found out that the win was more like a fluke and the Oscars that they had won were better put on display which they could never use to get new and more exciting jobs even in their own countries, never mind, in Hollywood.
It could even spell the end of their career in film altogether, after getting the adulation from the media and crowds in their respective countries had died down, they would return to their former selves trying to raise funding to produce their next film which may never come.
So till now there is no Malaysian filmmaker who has ever said he would like to make films so that he can win an Oscar or two, or at the very least get a nomination or two for any category as long as he gets it, even if in the end he does not bring back to Malaysia any of the Oscars.
In America many of their filmmakers and actors and screenwriting still want to win an Oscar even if they have got a few, which they got after spending many years and being involved in many films; they are lucky to be able to get one and luckier if they can get more.
And so far there is no woman who has ever been given an Oscar for best director. It won’t happen, ever?!
So surely it must have come to a surprise when Prime Minister Najib Razak made a statement which sounds like a goal that the national film agency has to pursue which is for Malaysian filmmakers to start producing films which he says are ‘Oscar-worthy’.
But till now he has not got Finas or any agency in the country to pursue the matter; to him it was a statement he had to make to please some segments of the society and even then his speech was read by Azalinah Othman and not by himself since he had another function to attend.
But the speech made it to the newspapers, so I was able to see it and try and do something to it by writing this article.
There has not been any comment from the ministry concerned and its minister and also from Finas.
What can they say? Nothing. They don’t care even if the statement was made by the prime minister himself.
The last few years Malaysia or its film agency had started to submit bids by sending films for the Best Foreign category, which unfortunately did not even make it in the finals.
And this year, another film, ‘Lelaki Harapan Dunia’ or ‘Men who saved the world’ was submitted. But it is in a group of eighty other films from other countries all of whom want to see their entry win the Oscar.
Unfortunately, what Najib had wanted for Malaysian filmmakers to achieve which is in reality a good move to encourage them to produce better films that can attract the attention of the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Art and Sciences and in the process also help to reeducate the local viewers on how to look at films so that they can collectively cause the producers and directors to think harder and develop the film industry so we can finally establish the New Malaysian Cinema.
But they are not taking action on what the prime minister had voiced. They had failed to form a special committee to see how that can be achieved.
Money should not be the object; what is, is probably talent that has to be nurtured and funding be given to the right candidates.
What has Finas been doing to achieve this?
And can it happen that a Malaysian filmmaker who comes out of the blue and from nowhere who gets some Oscar nomination?
Yes, it can. But when can this happen?
I am sure the whole country would go gaga if this happens and the person will be feted until he faints before even he can take the flight to Los Angeles sometime in March to attend the Academy Awards Night at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.
And if he wins an Oscar he will be embalmed with his body put on display in the museum for everybody to see.
And Finas will have to bear the brunt from the government and public for not having done anything to support his effort to produce the film which was made by private and personal funding that could go that far.
And what if the director wins not one, but a few Oscars on his first time out on the Academy Awards Night?
I cannot hazard a guest as to what Finas and the government and the media in Malaysia would do to play up on the happening which will be dragged and milked on for weeks on end.
But realistically, chances of Malaysia getting an Oscar for any category as it is, to be bleak.
The film agency and the government had not bothered to find out or discover and develop talents from amongst those who are capable so they may be the people who would win the Oscars.
If they had done this and pursued the matter more systematically and diligently before then surely things would have happened by now, something magical.
But those people in the film agencies and ministries concerned want to see someone from Malaysia win the Oscars? Maybe not. Why?
Because they feared that their own positions to be threatened and their credibility diminished. There won’t be much left for them to do, if this happens.