UPDATE: Includes quotes from Zee Avi after receiving the award.
OlaBola continued its winning streak, 10 months after its release, this time, winning the Best Original Song at the 53rd Annual Golden Horse Film Awards on Nov 26.
Collecting the awards at Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan were singer Zee Avi and songwriter Rendra Zawawi who are responsible for the song Arena Cahaya.
Zee started her acceptance speech in Mandarin before continuing in English: "I thought I was here just to perform the song. Thank you Director Chui for this incredible opportunity. This is an amazing project to be apart of as it is about unity, diversity and harmony, and it is to remind us that we are all the same."
OlaBola director Chiu Keng Guan and musician Alvin Wee (responsible for the recording, editing, mixing, and mastering for the song) were also in the audience.
Arena Cahaya beat four other nominees, including Faye Wong's daughter Leah Dou's (It's Not A Crime) It's Just What We Do, which was featured in the movie Soul Mate.
In an interview early this year, songwriter Rendra said when Chiu commissioned Zee and him to write a song for OlaBola, the director wanted something that imbues timelessness, inspiration and, a sense of unity and hope.
“The mission was for the song to be simple, relatable, memorable, yet achieve the intended spirit of hope and unity. Most important of all, the chorus had to have a killer hook – something people would hum to after (or even better, while …) hearing it,” Rendra said.
When contacted after the awards night, Zee said the win was a surprise as she was only looking forward to performing on an international platform.
"The only thing I was expecting was to sing a song in our national language on the show. To me, as a Malaysian, that was already a victory," Zee said, adding that she didn't have a speech prepared and was holding back tears at the podium when she was presented the award.
"I think the song proves that it doesn't matter what language a song is in, sincerity transfers through the delivery and flow of music. And in this context, one could feel the uplifting journey within the song and its arrangement."
While it was an experience of a lifetime and a feat for the Malaysian contingent at the Golden Horse Film Awards, they didn't get to celebrate their victory after the show.
"Rendra, Alvin and I had travelled from the US the day before. We were incredibly jet-lagged. We had jolts of energy after our performance, and of course, were fully awake when our win was announced. But I had to leave for the airport at 6am – five hours after the ceremony – so I went back to the hotel to pack for my flight," said the 30-year-old singer who is currently back in Malaysia for a day before leaving for China tomorrow (Nov 29) for her tour beginning Dec 2.
"I think the real celebration was all four of us thanking each other profusely throughout the night for being able to work together and be part of this wonderful movement that just so happens to be a great work of art," she continued.
OlaBola has earned RM16.67mil at the Malaysian box-office, making it the No. 4 best-earning local film of all time.
In September, the film bagged three awards at the Malaysian Film Festival for Best Costume, Original Song and Score. It also received a Special Jury Award for achievements as a film that promoted unity and family values through sports.