PETALING JAYA: The assistant-general secretary of the Film Directors’ Association of Malaysia (FDAM)Hafiz Ibrahim has resigned in protest of the segregation of categories based on language for this year’s Malaysia Film Festival (FFM).
“I am steadfast with the view that all Malaysian Films should be contested without segmentation regardless of language at FFM,” said Hafiz in a statement posted on his Facebook page on Monday.
“I have formally informed the board of my intention and the status of my resignation is subject to the approval of the board,” he said.
Hafiz’s resignation comes after several prominent personalities voiced their disagreement over the decision to have separate categories for Bahasa Malaysia and non-Bahasa movies.
Local comedian and filmmaker Afdlin Shauki announced his decision to boycott FFM. Prominent banker Datuk Seri Nazir Razak and AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes expressed their support for Afdlin’s decision.
Cinematographer Mohd Noor Kassim on Monday returned two FFM trophies that he won to the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas).
FDAM general secretary Datuk Abdul Rahim Awang said in a statement on Monday that the national language of Malaysia is the Malay language and therefore the national award should be awarded to Malay-language films.
He said there is no discrimination as non-Malay filmmakers can also compete for the Best Film award if they adhere to the language requirement.
Films such as OlaBola, Jagat and The Kid From The Big Apple were not nominated for Best Film, Best Screenplay and Best Director at FFM.
The popular films were instead nominated in the non-Bahasa Malaysia categories for Best Film, Best Screenplay and Best Director.
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 5 — The separation of the Best Picture award category at the Malaysia Film Festival (FFM) this year to Bahasa Malaysia and other languages is “immature” and a “disgrace” to the visual medium of films, the director of Jagat said.
Shanjhey Kumar Perumal — whose critically acclaimed Tamil-language movie about the difficult lives of Indians in Malaysia was nominated for Best Picture (Non-Bahasa Malaysia) in the national film awards ceremony — told local broadcaster Astro Awani that film comprised other facets of art like acting, cinematography and editing, besides language.
“When we use language as one of the main criteria to judge a film, I feel that it’s a disgrace to the visual medium,” Shanjhey said.
He pointed out that silent film The Artist won several Oscars, including Best Picture, at the US 84th Academy Awards in 2012.
The independent filmmaker also said when he went to India and to the New York Asian Film Festival, Jagat was considered a “Malaysian” film.
“But in our own homeland, our films are categorised according to language. So I feel that this is unnecessary and immature, in my opinion,” he said.
The nominations of Chiu Keng Guan’s Ola Bola and Jagat for the Best Picture (non-Bahasa Malaysia) category at the 28th FFM this year, instead of the main Best Picture category, had sparked public outrage. The Best Director and Best Screenplay categories similarly have non-Bahasa Malaysia versions.
Ola Bola was inspired by the multiracial Malaysian football team that qualified for the 1980 Moscow Olympics and was reportedly the fifth highest-grossing local movie in history, raking in RM15.85 million according to a New Straits Times April report.
The Malaysian Film Producers Association (PFM), however, defended the segregation of the award categories, saying it was to uphold the national language in local films.
National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas) Director General Datuk Kamil Othman told Malay Mail Online that both Best Picture categories — Bahasa Malaysia and non-Bahasa Malaysia — were on equal footing, meaning there is no question of Ola Bola and Jagat being relegated to second best as claimed by critics.
PETALING JAYA, Aug 5 — Malaysia Film Festival’s (FFM) decision to divide this year’s best picture award category according to language was made due to government’s push to promote the national language, National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas) Director General Datuk Kamil Othman said today.
He said both Best Picture sub-categories — Bahasa Malaysia and Non-Bahasa Malaysia — in the national film awards ceremony were on equal footing, meaning there is no question of Ola Bola and Jagat being relegated to second best as claimed by critics.
“In principle we have to look at the fact that FFM has always been about films in the official language and the non-official language,” Kamil told Malay Mail Online.
“But generally the two categories of best films are judged based on how good the stories (are). They are only divided by the language only because it has always been about the (promotion of the) official language,” he said.
Citing the Academy Awards as an example, he said one of the main criteria for entries under its foreign language picture category is the use of native languages by contesting filmmakers.
“So it has nothing to do with one is better than the other,” Kamil said, referring to allegations that Ola Bola and Jagat had been disqualified from winning the best picture award because much of its scripts were of mixed languages.
Kamil explained that Finas had made it a policy for locally-made films to emphasise at least “70 per cent” Bahasa Malaysia usage in their scripts.
Local arts news website Daily Seni reported yesterday that both Chiu Keng Guan’s movie Ola Bola — inspired by the multiracial Malaysian football team that qualified for the 1980 Moscow Olympics — and Shanjhey Kumar Perumal’s Tamil-language film Jagat, were to be placed under the Non-Bahasa Malaysia category, which disqualifies them from the 28th FMM Best Picture contest.
Jagat is the debut work of Shanjhey depicting the harsh socio-economic conditions of the ethnic Indians in Malaysia. It garnered critical reviews and was also a box-office hit for 10 weeks in certain cinemas, grossing RM220,000.
According to the report, FFM and the Malaysian Film Producers Association led by SKOP Production chief Datuk Yusof Haslam made the decision due to use of mixed languages in both films.
Kamil said Finas, FFM and BFM Radio, judges for this year’s awards, are currently working on a way to remove the sub categories and award the best picture category to the best film regardless of the language.
“Maybe we can lower the 70 per cent. It all depends on how we work it out”.
But the Finas official admitted that it would be ideal if the ceremony only awards the best film category to the best picture regardless of language.
“But we have to take into account our official language policy,” he said.
The disqualification of the two films drew immediate condemn
ation from within the local art scene, according to Daily Seni.
The move had also prompted boycott calls by popular comedian and actor Afdlin Shauki, who said the sub-categorisation promoted more “segregation”.