Wednesday, April 20, 2016


By Mansor Puteh

There is no other reason why the Academy Awards had a Black host and a string of presenters, which is to offset the lacking in Black participation at the awards night.

It is a pity if they did not realize why they were there in the first place, to thrill the organizers and the Academy members and the viewers.

But this still doe not mean that the Academy Awards nominees for the next year, would still be as what it was for this year.

There must be a good reason or some good reasons why this year’s Academy Awards is an all-White affair.

But those whose views had been sought on the matter from the two sides, Black and White had not bothered to think harder before they spout their commonplace views and ideas and proposals.

It seems that the Black filmmakers in America, as much as their authors do not seem to have anything new or original to say.

And Chris Rock as the host has a host of Black-White jokes some of which may be stale by now; only that those who attended the show had to show their appreciation for them.

The African-American or Black filmmakers in America, it seems, can only come up with films that deal with the slavery and later day issues on civil rights activities that some of their leaders had done in the 1960s.

But they have not done films on Martin Luther King, Jr and Malcolm X and ‘Roots’ and other almost similar films and television serials on African slavery and slave trading including ‘Amistad’.

What else can they come up with now?

No wonder the last 88th Academy Awards did not see any of them getting nomination for anything. Why?

There seemed to be some sort of issue on the last Academy Awards which saw no nomination for Black artistes, which forced some more prominent Black filmmakers in Hollywood to complain about the lacking of diversity in the nomination.

But it is no on the members of the Academy but on the Black filmmakers of America and also of Africa.

Where are the films from the African continent?

There are so many countries in Africa, and surely, there are also many interesting issues on them, but where are their films? Where are their issues? 

However, from what I could see, on the Awards night that there was diversity alright; the problem was that there was no Black nominees.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that two Muslim filmmakers had won Oscars for best documentary short and documentary feature, from Pakistan and the United Kingdom, respectively.

Even an Indonesian documentarian had won an Oscar nomination for best documentary feature.

As for more diversity, most of those who were nominated and those who won Oscars that night, were people of color; they are Whites with different racial and nationalistic backgrounds, such as Hungarian, Italian and South Americans and even Jews.

The main charge by the Black filmmakers and their supporters was that there was the lacking in diversity when it is just the lacking of Black nominees.

And despite the many countries in the African continent and elsewhere to add to those who are African-Americans, there was no Black presence.

There are ways for Malaysia to make a good and strong bid to win an Oscar or two, but unfortunately, Finas that had been entrusted to help develop the film industry has not managed to address this issue.

The problem is that those in Finas and the relevant ministries are not qualified in film and who know the history of the film industry in America or Hollywood to be able to present films that can endear to the members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science (AMPAS) who vote to nominate who for the categories each year.

In fact, if there is anyone at Finas who is qualified in film, he can calculate and get our filmmakers to produce such films that can be readily accepted by the audiences in America and by the members of the Academy.

Unfortunately, despite its long history since Finas was first established in 1981, it has not even dared or wanted to seek the advise of those who are better trained to help the country expand its influence in the cinema to America and all over the world, which can give a better picture of what the country has to offer to the development of the world cinema.

And because of that, Malaysia is still a long way to getting one of its filmmakers bring home the coveted trophy.

But why was the Academy Awards this year been conveniently described as an all-White affair? It is not from what I had seen on the awards night which was shown live on satellite television in Malaysia.

It is quite diverse; and there are many people of color. Maybe they are not Black, but who had color and a lot of that, including some Muslims who had been nominated and two who won their Oscars.

It was said to lack diversity. It turned out to be not true. It only lacked Black nominees and this can be a good cause for some serious researchers to ponder on the matter or issue.

One of which is where are the Black filmmakers from the African continent and other Black countries in the West Indies and elsewhere?

The African filmmakers and the African Cinema must have evolved to a bit, through the years when most of the countries in this continent were under some sort of White colonial rule.

And surely, they too have a lot of tales to tell and share and if not how the whole African Continent had evolved from their era of White colonization till now under various rulers, especially their own.

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