KUCHING: Malaysia’s Terbaik Dari Langit took Best Movie at the Asean International Film Festival and Awards (Aiffa) here on Saturday, but the Philippines were the overall best winners.
Of the 14 categories, Philippine productions took home five gongs, which came as no surprise as the country had the most nominations.
Joseph Laban won Best Director for Nuwebe, while Purok 7 took the Asean Spirit Award. Other wins for the Philippines were Bendor for Best Editing and Cherie Gil’s Best Actress Award for Sonata.
The Lifetime Achievement went to veteran Filipina actress Nora Aunor, who received the award from Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh, the previous winner.
Special guest Datuk Jackie Chan, who was visiting Borneo for the first time, was given the Asean Inspiration Award.
Accepting the prize, Chan said making movies was all he had known his entire life. “All those years, I only knew to keep on making movies. I tried to do my best. I ‘promised’ to keep hurting myself if I must (in order) to make better movies,” said the 61-year-old.
Chan quipped he could return to Sarawak to make a love story but only with Yeoh as his romantic interest.
“We’ve been talking about a love story for 30 years now,” said an enthused Yeoh offstage. “Anytime you are ready brother!”
The Malaysian-produced Terbaik Dari Langit also clinched the Best Actor prize by leading man Bront Palare. Executive producer Najwa Abu Bakar said the wins were a godsend for the movie, which was made amidst an increasingly challenging domestic market.
“We will keep making movies although it’s been quite a difficult home film market in the last two or three years. I’m sure this is not an uncommon problem for other movie-making brothers and sisters in Asean,” Najwa told a press conference after the ceremony.
The other major awards of the night went to Vietnam’s Inseminator for Best Cinematography, Bruneian Nadiah Wahid took Best Supporting Actress, and Indonesian Ben Sihombing won Best Screenplay for Soekarno.
Special Jury Prizes were also presented to Singapore’s The Lion Men and Thailand’s Pee Mak.
Noted Malaysian director U-Wei Saari led the five-member jury. He told reporters that 65 films from all 10 Asean member states were submitted.
“It took us two months to watch all the movies, which was a pleasure. I have been to Cambodia (via movies) without going to Cambodia, and have gone to Vietnam without having gone to Vietnam,” U-Wei said.
“We saw that Asean movies tended to focus on social problems but also on the strength of the people,” he added.
Aiffa is held in Kuching once every two years. The weekend’s festival was held at the Sarawak Cultural Village and the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching.
Among VIPs included production executives from China, South Korea, India and members of the Hong Kong International Film Festival organisers.
A China delegation announced its intention to set up a tentatively-named Malaysia-China Production Hub and Theme Park in Kuching.
The Sarawak government announced it would set up a unit within the state Tourism Ministry to see through the proposal and to help attract other film the television productions here.