KUALA LUMPUR: Before the appearance of local animations like Upin & Ipin, Boboiboy and Ejen Ali, there was the popular Sang Kancil Series, created by Hassan Abdul Muthalib.
Hassan, who is regarded as the Father of Malaysian Animation, was awarded the Merdeka Award for his contributions to the industry and for having produced the country’s first animated feature film, Silat Lagenda, in 1995.
“Everyone in this digital age is a storyteller, but the film community simply makes it a profession that pays,” Hassan said after receiving the award from Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah. The Sultan of Perak is the patron of the award.
Hassan said traditional performing arts were the roots behind Malaysian cinema. As such, homage should be paid to old works that had inspired today’s films.
“For filmmakers, we aim to entertain. But hidden inside the film is the true message we would like to deliver.”
Hassan noted that the Malaysian animation scene had seen tremendous growth over the years.
“Malaysia holds the record among Asean countries for having made 14 feature films, and I am proud to have made the first one.
“We should think about how to succeed in storytelling using Western technology,” he said.
“But of course, they need to centre on our local stories with a strong Malaysian identity.”
Hassan received the Merdeka Award in the Education and Community section.
The other recipients of the Merdeka Award are engineer Gurmit Singh K.S (Environment), Prof Dr Gan Ee Kiang and Prof Dr Mohd Hair Bejo (Health, Science and Technology), Emeritus Prof Tan Sri Dr Khoo Kay Kim and Distinguished Professor Dr Rajah Rasiah (Outstanding Scholastic Achievement) and Andrew James Eavis (Outstanding Contribution to the People of Malaysia).
The Merdeka Award presentation is an annual ceremony founded by Petronas, ExxonMobil and Shell, recognising individuals and organisations whose works and achievements have contributed to the nation’s growth and inspired greatness in the people of Malaysia.
Founded in 2007, this year marks the 11th since the award was first established.
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