Director of the critically-acclaimed Malaysian Tamil movie Jagat, Shanjhey Kumar Perumal has issued a press statement asking Malaysian Film Producers Association (PFM) for clarification on the ruling that local films qualified for the main Best Film category must have 70% Bahasa Malaysia dialogue.
“From our research, we found that Akta Perbadanan Kemajuan Filem Nasional Malaysia 1981 (Act 244) does not touch on the usage of the national language in the making of a film.
“In fact, there’s no definition of what truly constitutes a national movie, or a Malaysian movie,” the press statement, which was sent to members of the media on Sunday (Aug 7), read.
When contacted by the media, FFM judging committee chairman Nancie Foo said that local films have to include 70% dialogue in Bahasa Malaysia however, she doesn’t know when this ruling was enforced.
A decision by the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas) and PFM to create special categories for Bahasa Malaysia and non-Bahasa Malaysia films for the upcoming Malaysia Film Festival (FFM28) has irked many.
It was announced that Jagat will not be competing for Best Film, Best Screenplay and Best Director at the film festival.
Instead, it will compete in the non-Bahasa Malaysia categories.
Shanjhey also added that there was no rule which stipulates the usage of the national language in film in the nomination form for FFM28.
The director also thanked actor Afdlin Shauki and cinematographer Mad Noor Kassim who have said that they will boycott FFM28 over this issue.
However, Shanjhey won’t do the same.
“Just like our peers, we want to work towards the same goal. But we will do it via a different strategy. We believe this issue can be solved or improved upon through a dialogue session with the parties involved with this film festival,” he said.
Finas director-general Datuk Kamil Othman said that Finas is working towards omitting the non-Bahasa Malaysia categories for future FFM.
“We want to move forward together. Quality Malaysian productions will be recognised as contenders under one Best Film category,” he said in a press conference last week.
AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes and CIMB Group chairman Datuk Seri Nazir Razak have voiced their support for Afdlin’s decision to boycott the film festival which will be held on Sept 3.
Kamil voiced his frustrations on Twitter in a post on Aug 5, stating: “FFM heating up. If only everyone knows how difficult any transformation process can become. We’re changing decades old mindsets.”