PFM, Yusof Haslam insist only Bahasa Malaysia films are national films

PFM, Yusof Haslam insist only Bahasa Malaysia films are national films

Datuk Yusof Haslam shared his opinions at yesterday's #tanyaFINAS
session with FINAS, PFM and the public.

9 Aug – With the recent controversy surrounding the segregated categories in the 28th Malaysia Film Festival (FFM 28), the National Film Development Corporation of Malaysia (FINAS) and the Malaysia Film Producers Association (PFM) have turned to the public for their opinion on the issue.

"We are here to find out what is the issue," said Datuk Kamil Othman at a #tanyaFINAS session held yesterday evening at the Content Malaysia Pitching Center, Platinum Sentral.

The session gave members of the public the chance to voice out their concerns directly to the FFM 28 organisers, after a number of outbursts started circulating on social media following the announcement of this year's nominees and the newly-introduced non-Malay categories.

The attendees at yesterday's session were also asked to suggest ideas to improve other FFMs that will be held in the future.

Datuk Kamil Othman explains the recent FFM 28 controversy.
(Photo Source: FINAS facebook)

Among the attendees at the session were big names in the local movie industry such as "Redha" director Tunku Mona Riza, Metrowealth International Group (MIG) CEO David Teo, actress Sharifah Amani, KRU's Datuk Norman Halim, filmmaker Datuk Paduka Shuhaimi Baba, FFM's jury selection committee member Nancie Foo and more.

Though the aforementioned attendees were silent on the issue, others, such as Alfie, the President of PENULIS (Persatuan Penulis Lakon Layar Kuala Lumpur dan Selangor), Jafree from KOMFIT (Komuniti Filem Titiwangsa) and several others were more vocal.

"Mat Moto: Kami Mat Moto Bukan Mat Rempit" is one of the films nominated
for this year's Best Picture despite audiences' negative reviews of it.

On Datuk Kamil's explanation that a Malaysian movie needs to meet the 70 percent Bahasa Malaysia requirement in order to qualify for submission in the Academy Awards' Best Foreign Film category, Alfie mentioned the fact that Canada submitted Hindi-language "Deepa Mehta's Water" at the 79th Academy Awards, which makes moot the argument that only movies of the country's "official language" will be eligible to run in the category.

"Every film made in Malaysia is a national film," said Alfie, who also suggested that FINAS and PFM shouldn't be involved in the organising FFM in the future – a sentiment wholeheartedly agreed by almost all attendees as it does raise the issue on how the winners are selected and that there could be bias judgement if producers of the competing movies are directly involved – and that "all categories should be united", instead of segregated as how it is now.

"Why are you challenging the national language and national film festival?" was PFM CEO N. Pansha's input at the session.

Both Pansha and PFM president Yusof Haslam reiterated the fact that "everything was started by the Malay film producers", since the introduction of the first FFM back in 1980, and that the Malay language is officially the national language, hence only films using the national language can be considered national films.

"For 25 years it had been done so without issue," lamented both the PFM CEO and president, saying that FFM has always been about honouring national-language films.

"It was only in 2011 that FFM decided to introduce a Best Non-Malay Film category due to the rise of more Chinese and Indians films of quality. No one said anything then but now it's become an issue when we decided to honour more non-Malay works."

"Jagat", one of the films deemed to be more deserving of the
Best Picture nomination this year.

When pointed out that time has changed and it is time for FFM to be more open-minded in its definition of national or Malaysian film, PFM rebutted that the Malay language has always irrefutably been the national language, hence the definition of "national film" cannot be changed willy-nilly. However, it is interesting to take note of Alfie's recent Facebook post that stated "no provision for defining a National Film (Filem Kebangsaan) as having to be in Bahasa Malaysia exists in either the Finas Act or Dasar Industri Kreatif Negara 2011."

"We would also like to remind FINAS Malaysia and Persatuan Penerbit Filem Malaysia (PFM) that a 'Dasar' is not law, unlike an Act, and can be amended accordingly."

Speaking of language, some attendees also question just how correct is the Malay language used in supposedly Malay-speaking films, as most dialogues are either peppered with colloquial terms or tinged with various local dialects.

"The dialogues in "Bunohan" were mostly in the Kelantanese dialect, does this constitute as a Malay film, too?" asked one attendee, referring to the Dain Said film which won Best Picture at the 25th FFM.

Dain Said's "Bunohan" won Best Picture at FFM 25.

"What about films made in the Borneo part of Malaysia, which has their own local languages as well, do they not count as national and Malaysian films?" was also one of the questions brought up several times.

While it was mentioned by Datuk Kamil that there will be no re-nomination for this year's FFM, he promised that future FFM would be handled better.

He also stated that all the thoughts and suggestions brought up in the session yesterday were to be submitted to the organiser by the end of the night.

This isn't the first time for the film festival to be broiled in controversy and it is likely to continue unless positive changes are made to ensure it will be bias-free and fair for all films made in Malaysia by Malaysians – regardless of the language(s) utilised in the films.

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