17 May – Malaysian filmmaker U-Wei Hj Saari recently urged Ahmad Idham, CEO of the National Film Development Corporation (FINAS), to explain himself, after finding out that his new film, "Wangi Jadi Saksi" has not been approved for funding by the government agency.
In an open letter addressed to Idham, the "Jogho" director revealed that he made the pitch on 16 March virtually through Zoom, and that it went smoothly.
"Presenting on our behalf was myself, Datuk Azmir Saifuddin and Azman Azahar. From FINAS was Mohd Fazli Abdul Aziz with two academicians; a professor and a doctor. Not a single question was asked and after the presentation, I asked again if they have any doubts," he stated.
Through the letter, U-Wei revealed that he only found out that the movie was rejected without being given any reasons from the producer, Azmir.
"I would like to state that the official letter of rejection was stated via e-mail under the heading "Digital Content Fund Application Decision" and there was no mention of the National Film," he said.
U-Wei claimed that Ahmad Idham knew about the decision to reject the film from receiving the funds, based on source information which mentioned the 'decision from above' ("'atas arahan dari pihak atasan"), as stated in the open letter.
"If you as the Director General of FINAS (Chief Executive Officer) participate in the selection and determination of projects that should be approved or not, and used the veto power in determining the fate of my application, you have insulted the wisdom of the panel appointed by FINAS," he claimed.
U-Wei stressed that making a national film is not a small matter, and that he has to consider several factors including the potentiality of the project that will enhance Malaysia, the calibre and consistency of the filmmaker in creating a high-quality film, as well as a strong and capable company.
"It is very inappropriate and embarrassing if there are parties who follow their hearts in determining who is qualified and should do it," he added.
Ahmad Idham has yet to respond to the issue.