Film Directors Association of Malaysia (FDAM) has declared that it will reinstate its support for the 28th Malaysia Film Festival (FFM 28). FDAM vice president Syed Zulkifli Syed Masi reached the decision after a satisfactory meeting with the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas) and the Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak on Aug 16.
FDAM had previously withdrawn its support for FFM due to a decision made by Salleh on Aug 10 to remove three non-Bahasa Malaysia categories for Best Film, Best Director and Best Screenplay in the upcoming awards night. FDAM, in a statement posted on Aug 11, said the decision to remove these categories and disregard the national language is an insult to the National Constitution and National Principles (Rukun Negara). It wants FFM to continue to uphold the national language as the main criteria for awards.
The non-Bahasa Malaysia categories have been the source of contention among industry players as they were seen as racially divisive when films that do not meet the 70% Bahasa Malaysia requirement were not eligible to compete in main categories like Best Film, Best Screenplay and Best Director. Instead, these films had to compete in separate non-Bahasa Malaysia categories.
OlaBola, Jagat, The Kid From The Big Apple, Maravan and Huat The Fish are now eligible to compete in the original category for Best Film alongside previously announced nominees Polis Evo, Munafik, Jejak Warriors, Mat Moto – Kami Mat Moto Bukan Mat Rempit and Nota. Directors Chiu Keng Guan, Shanjhey Kumar Perumal, Jess Teong, Puvanendran Selvaraja and Yee Kwan Huah and Silver who were previously not included in the original Best Director category are now in the running for the award. These auteurs join the likes of Syamsul Yusof, Shamyl Othman, Ghaz Abu Bakar, Wan Hasliza Wan Zainuddin and Saw Teong Hin in the Best Director category.
In the Best Screenplay category, OlaBola, Jagat, The Kid From The Big Apple, Maravan and Huat The Fish join nominees Nota, Suamiku Encik Perfect, Polis Evo, Mat Moto – Kami Mat Moto Bukan Mat Rempit and Love Supermoon.
Finas also introduced Best Film In The National Language – a new category – where the nominees are Polis Evo, Munafik, Jejak Warriors, Mat Moto – Kami Mat Moto Bukan Mat Rempit and Nota.
When contacted, FFM judging committee chairman Nancie Foo said she is relieved that the controversy surrounding this year’s FFM has been put to rest.
“We managed to reach a win-win compromise for all. It’s good that now everyone has come back to support the festival. The main focus is now on the final judging process.Everyone can also look forward to fantastic awards night where we celebrate the achievements of those in the local film industry. After all, that is what FFM is really about," she said.
The FFM judging committee is made up of Finas and Malaysian Film Producers Association (PFM). Datuk Yusof Haslam who is the PFM president, said they respect the decision made by Salleh to remove non-Bahasa Malaysia categories for the upcoming event.
“He wants us in the industry all to be united, especially during the National Independence month. He said we should put aside our differences and work together for FFM to run smoothly,” Yusof said at an FFM event in KL on Aug 16.
The 28th edition of the FFM awards night will be held at Plenary Hall, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, on Sept 3. It will be hosted by Nabil Ahmad and Sherry Al-hadad with performances by Dayang Nurfaizah, Jaclyn Victor, Aizat Amdan and Man Bai.