Thursday, August 18, 2016


By Mansor bin Puteh

In Malaysia there are some who are still bickering over small, minor and insignificant issues of the film industry so no wonder the industry is stifled; with the major one concerning how the Malaysian Film Festival is to be organized.

Having films not in the national language and with the medium which is now High Definition video recording one can produce films for much less and in a much shorter period of time on themes that had not been dealt before, many who would not normally enter the industry are now in it, so they claim.

And not feeling happy that they are in the industry, there are now some who are starting to question on the rules and regulations that the original organizers of the industry had set out almost three decades before when there were only Melayu films and whose main aim is to support the main provisions enshrined in the Malaysian Constitution.

Here I wish to inform those who may not be aware that there are a few thousand films festivals organized in the world in any year and the number keeps on increasing.

And no two film festivals are the same, and they are meant to be that way so no film directors can blame why his film which has been praised in one festival may not even be selected in the other.

All of them had accepted this as a fact and no one has challenged what the festival organizers and jury had decided.

And each of the festivals have their own philosophies and attractions so if one wins a major award in any of the festivals, it still does not mean that the same film would be selected by the others.

The differences in the festivals can be seen in the way the organizers chose which aspect of the cinema they wish to highlight so that in the end the festivals are safely segmented according to religion, race, language, gender and even age, and some new ones with sexual orientations.

The Malaysian Film Festival or Festival Filem Malaysia was organized by a small group of like-minded entertainment journalists who decided which would be the philosophy they wanted to highlight and this included the issue concerning language, specifically Bahasa Melayu.

And their choice must be respected.

But at the same time over the last many years, most of the films that had been produced and shown in the cinemas in the country were Melayu ones.

And recently, an interesting development had happened and this did not escape the attention of the organizers who were quick to introduce or create special categories for films which are not in the national language which had not created much controversy until recently.

There is some element of self-promotion by one or two of the producers and directors of the films which were not nominated which might have caused the controversy to happen, which is totally unnecessary and superfluous, as they would still quality for the others.

And while we are at it, why hasn't' anyone in the world cry foul for the festival of feature films to have separate categories for best actor and best actress, and not just have one category or award for best acting so that it can cut across the gender as best acting should not have this matter for consideration.

And in India, the films that are in Hindi hardly participate in festivals which are in Tamil or the other Indian languages, and vice versa.

One cannot imagine what if there is one national film festival in India that accepts any film as long as it had been produced in the country irregardless of the language used; there would surely be a lot of quarrel over non-issues concerning which film and in which language that should be given preference.

And there has not been any attempt by the film authorities to organize such a film festival in India. They are happy having their own festivals that celebrate the uniqueness of their own regional cinemas that produce films in their own language. .

The organizers of these festivals in the country knew the stickiness involved when films from the different major races are put in the same basket and with the members of the jury who are going to be chosen all of whom have their personal preferences, biases and prejudices that can cause unnecessary controversies.

Yes, there are many other so-called 'international film festivals' that accept films in any language, but their emphases are totally different than those that are organized in the different countries.

The main problem with the film industry in Malaysia is that most of the producers and directors are not properly or adequately trained in the art and who are also not familiar with the medium and how film festivals all over the world are organized.

And many of them come and go as they please; they are lucky to be able to produce and direct a feature film on HD and get it screened in the cinemas for a while which not many sees or want to discuss about.

And this is probably what displeases them and they take it on the FFM to vent their frustration after failing to gain any measure of international recognition for their film; if they could have got some elsewhere they would not want to waste their time with FFM anyway. 

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And whatever is the outcome of the controversy surrounding the organization of the Twentieth Malaysian Film Festival or Festival Filem Malaysia ke-28 (FFM28) I have decided to skip it and I bet my non-appearance in the awards night on 3 September won’t be missed by many.

I had attended the last year’s awards night held at the Kuala Lumpur City Center (KLCC) for the fun of it but this time I will skip it, and this time I have a good reason to do so because I might be taking a small team from abroad to do a series on Melaka starting on that day to last the whole of one week, and it is for them to broadcast the thirteen half-hour episode series for their viewers in their country.  

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