At an event to launch the upcoming 27th Malaysia Film Festival, Finas director-general Datuk Kamil Othman told the nominees and future winners to not be complacent. As if to soften the stern message, he said it with a smile. He added during an interview at the Finas soundstage studio in Kuala Lumpur: “Complacency is one of the bigger issues in Malaysia. When you’re in the film industry, you are the people’s person. They buy tickets for your show. As an award winner or a nominee, you should never lose sight of connecting with people.” This year’s Malaysia Film Festival is set to take place on Sept 5 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. It’s the country’s equivalent to the Academy Awards in the US where individuals are given recognition for their excellence in filmmaking. The launch event also rolled out its list of top five nominees in over 30 categories.In the lead with 13 nominations is Lelaki Harapan Dunia. Director Liew Seng Tat received four nominations to his name including Best Editing, Best Screenplay, Best Original Screenplay and Best Director. The comedy drama is also nominated for Best Film and Best Actor for Wan Hanafi Su. Liew said that he was hoping that there would be a posthumous nomination for actor-comedian Harun Salim Bachik, who played fellow villager Megat in the film. Harun died at the age of 56 in March this year. “It would have been a nice way to honour his legacy. If we win, we’ll dedicate it to his memory,” shared Liew. Last year’s big winner Nik Amir Mustapha – in Best Director and Best Film categories for Kil – could potentially spoil Lelaki Harapan Dunia’s plan to dominate the award ceremony. Nik Amir’s Terbaik Dari Langit has 12 nominations including Best Actor for Bront Palarae, Best Director and Best Film. If Nik Amir wins Best Director again this year, he’d join the ranks of Datuk Rahim Razali, Datin Paduka Shuhaimi Baba and Syamsul Yusof who have also received the award twice in a row. Mamat Khalid’s Amir & Loqman Pergi Ke Laut and Khabir Bhatia’s Dollah Superstar are also in the running for Best Film. Both films have nine nominations each. In a phone interview, Khabir said he was surprised to be nominated. He was also excited for Awie’s Best Actor nomination, Fizz Fairuzz’s Best Supporting Actor nomination and Best New Actress nomination for Aisya Hasnaa.
Romance drama Manisnya Cinta Di Cappadocia has 10 nominations including Best Film and Best Actress for Fazura.“Dollah Superstar is full of colourful characters and Aisya’s character is the only sensible one. It makes sense for me that she gets an acting nomination too. I’m really proud and happy for everyone,” said Khabir. Meanwhile Awie said he’s thankful for his Best Actor nomination. “I feel blessed because there are people who still believe in me and my career. I also applaud Khabir because I can see that he is trying to do something unique with this movie. I can’t find any fault in it. It’s a fun movie with a different twist,” said the 46-year-old singer/actor. Romance drama Manisnya Cinta Di Cappadocia has 10 nominations including Best Film and is the only one out of the top five nominees to have grossed more than RM1mil at the local box office. Nur Fazura received two nominations – one in the Best Actress category for Manisnya Cinta Di Cappadocia and Best Supporting Actress for Kami Histeria. “When they announced the nominations, I had to pinch myself to see if it was really happening!” she said joyously. The nominations also marked Nur Fazura’s triumphant return to the acting scene since Lagenda Budak Setan in 2010. Producer Lina Tan also shared her joy for Kami Histeria’s Shamyl Othman when the latter got a Best New Director nomination. Tan is the producer for Manisnya Cinta Di Cappadocia. “It was Shamyl’s first film and we are really proud of him. I’m also really happy that the FFM judges appreciate our film and recognise its message about strong female characters,” said Tan. Cinematographer Raja Mukhriz is also in the running for Best New Director for his debut film Ophilia. The drama about skinheads earned actor Que Haidar a Best Actor nomination. Kodi Rasheed’s turn as the mischievous Totoi in the film gave him the Best New Actor nomination. “Totoi is based on Raja Mukhriz’s good friend who has passed away. It was scary at first to play a character based on someone that meant a lot to him. With this nomination, I feel like I’ve already won,” said Kodi. It’s obvious that Kodi can’t shake off his Totoi persona yet as he was spotted wearing a pair of oxblood-coloured Doc Martens at the event, which is a skinhead trademark. “Yeah, I guess you can say a little bit of Totoi will always be in me,” he said with a laugh. Noticeably shut out from major categories such as Best Director and Best Film was Chiu Keng Guan and his RM17mil box-office phenomenon The Journey. The film received six nominations, including Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor (for Lee Sai Peng) and Best Non-Malay Language Film. All Kamil could say about the upset was it was up to the panel of judges to make the decisions. “I also feel that there are more independent films out there that are not getting recognition,” he said. The countdown to Sept 5 begins. For those preparing their acceptance speeches, Kamil hopes they will remember to continue to make better films for the Malaysian audience. “Each time you win something, it’s due to circumstances in that moment of time. Perhaps there were no better challengers. Winning an award doesn’t mean you’re part of an elitist group. So don’t be aloof. Bring professionalism back. Think about the people who buy tickets to your movie.”