Monday, April 10, 2017


By Mansor Puteh

I am done with the 89th Oscar Show in Hollywood and will be heading east on 28 February, to go to New York City where I have some business at my alma mater, Columbia University.

We’ll see if the 90th Academy Awards will see some participation by Malaysians with some nominations and better still, if there is anyone from the Malaysian film industry will create its history by actually bringing back one of the Oscar statuettes home. 

I returned to Hollywood the day after the awards show to check out the place and to my surprise, everything looks like it was before with the tents that had been erected to shield those attending the awards show, having been removed by ten this morning to allow all the stores inside the Dolby Theatre building to resume their operations.

And as always, I am taking my time to get there, on the Greyhound bus that will take three days and nights.

And along the way this is what I have written after being allow some reflection and seeing the fast-changing scenery outside and lands covered in snow and striking brief conversations with fellow travelers and other strangers at the stations I had stopped at for meal breaks and to change buses.

It is a routine I normally do if I travel in America, so I can meet with unsuspecting people; and in the Greyhound buses, the passengers are mostly from the working class who have to take the bus because it is cheap for them to go from one city to the other.

Once in a while I would bump into some people from the Amish community with their woman looking like Muslim women, all covered up. But these days they preferred to wear long blue gown instead of black, to distinguish themselves from the Muslim women.

This allows me to see the America that is not shown in Hollywood films and the media, the Middle America.

I was on the same Greyhound buses traveling from Los Angeles to New York City and back to Los Angeles in November last year. It was during the last Presidential election.

But no one I bumped into seemed to care much about it. The television at the stations show programs discussing it, but no on seemed to be greatly bothered by it.

Malaysians and many others in the other countries have been especially enjoyed watching the Oscar Show, rooting for actors mostly Americans and producers and directors like they know them personally.

I did not get to watch the show live on television as I would if I am in Malaysia, because I was outside of the Dolby Theatre where it happened. But I got to watch the red carpet with the actors, directors, producers and nominees walk on it to march into the theater.

One of these days, a Malaysian would get such an opportunity to do that and when he alights from the theater, he has not one but a few Oscars in his hands. Each weighs 2.7 pounds. So he would need to be strong to be able to carry a few.

Maybe this could be the reason why the Academy does not often give a few to anyone on one Oscar Night for fear that the trophies might seriously injure him or her. 

Why has the New Malaysian Cinema not able to be created? Finas was formed in 1981; I was still studying film at Columbia then. But till now no one in it and outside especially in the industry itself do not seem to know what to do with it.

Finas is definitely a strange government agency one that does not even have anyone with a degree in film.

So no wonder till now there is a stalemate as the government keeps on pumping money to support it every years, with it giving back any revenue, when it should and could become a revenue-generating agency, if only those in the industry, Finas and the parliament know how.

The Malaysian Film industry for one has not morphed into a Malaysian Cinema, much less, the New Malaysian Cinema.

It is stuck in the style and ways established by the Old Malayan Cinema, which had served its purpose, but whose philosophy had ceased to be relevant decades ago.

There is a pressing need for the New Malaysian Cinema to be created and developed so that it is not just an activity for the purpose of the creation of films for pure entertainment.

More than that, it can by now be used as a tool of foreign policy, much like Hollywood that had long been described ‘as a part of the American state department.’ In many ways, they were redeveloped from a center of entertainment, to what it is today.

And Finas must become an independent entity, that draws the best and qualified people who can manage it better, and not under the ministry of information.

In fact, Finas could also be under other ministries as well, such as culture, youth and sports, education, religious affairs, and so on.

So that is why in other countries, their national film agencies are not put under any one of the ministries as they involve many. So the best thing that they did was to have it independently but by engaging those in these ministries.

And who says Malaysia cannot create the center of film production that serves a wider audience and bigger cause, especially for the Entire Muslim World (EMW) – a term I am introducing to the world here?

If this can be done many other more interesting stories of Palestinian and Rohingya persecution can be turned into films that can be distributed throughout the EMW that can in turn develop into the creation of the Fourth Estate of the EMW to rival those that had been created by the West that had been in time overtaken by the Zionists who use it to serve their own cause with the Arabs and Muslims suffering because of that especially when fake news and false images of Muslims and Islam could be created so easily.   

Many magical things can happen if this can be achieved so that all major problems faced by Arabs and other Muslims everywhere in the world can be addressed in the most sane and intelligent and artistic and creative ways through the medium of the cinema, without anyone having to issue memos to the embassies of the offending governments or to shout obscenities on anyone, especially the Israeli-Zionists, without helping the cause at all. 

If the two Shaw Brothers – Run Me and Run Run Shaw and founder of Cathay-Keris, Loke Wan Tho could create the Old Malayan Cinema then and from scratch when the country did not even have a cinema hall, why couldn’t the Malaysian government with its vast resources do something more spectacular than just establishing Finas?