Unity is not hegemony — Lyana Khairuddin

Source: The Star Online

BY LYANA KHAIRUDDIN

BY NOW, I think almost everyone is familiar with the decision by Festival Filem Malaysia (FFM) to separate the categories for Best Film, Best Director, and Best Screenplay into Bahasa Malaysia and non-Bahasa Malaysia categories. The reason given by the organisers for this move was the need to uphold Bahasa Malaysia in films, thus a film needs to have 70% of its script in the national language for it to be considered an excellent Malaysian movie.

The debacle, protests, and resignations that followed this decision then necessitated our Communications and Multimedia Minister to intervene. As of time of writing, the FFM will have an inclusive Best Picture category, but there will also be a Best Film in the National Language category (where I assume someone would have the task of finely combing through the scripts to ensure it fulfills the 70% requirement).

Confused, yet?

The online discourse that followed the FFM’s decision has made for a bigger discussion on Malaysian identity. Ironically, this discourse occurs in the Merdeka month with the recurring theme of “Sehati Sejiwa” (One Heart, One Soul).

I have lived almost 33 years as a Malaysian. Yet, the only times I have confidently stated “I am a Malaysian” without needing any further elaboration, is when I am overseas.

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Communications minister ends FFM debate, says Best Picture now open to all

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 10 ― There will only be one Best Picture category and it will be opened for nominations to all locally-made films in this year’s Malaysia Film Festival Awards (FFM), Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak announced today.

The minister also announced a new awards category, Best Film in the National Language, which effectively reverses the previous category for Best Picture made in a non-Bahasa Malaysia language that was introduced in 2011.

“We are always willing to hear grouses from the industry players and at the same time, we don’t neglect our responsibility of empowering Bahasa Malaysia as the national language,” Salleh said in a statement to Bernama.

He said the decision was made after taking into account the views and suggestions from all parties, including film industry players and members of the public.

Salleh was forced to intervene this week after debate over FFM’s language segregation policy blew up last week after two critically-acclaimed movies Chiu Keng Guan’s Ola Bola and Shanjhey Kumar Perumal’s Jagat were disqualified from the Best Picture category due to their mixed languages. Read more

Lamenting the hypocrisy over the Malaysia Film Festival Awards controversy — Aidil Khalid

Source: The Malay Mail Online

BY AIDIL KHALID

AUGUST 8 — The recent controversy over the introduction of separate categories for Best Picture awards between Bahasa Malaysia (sic) and non Bahasa Malaysia (sic) films in this year’s Malaysia Film Festival (FFM), highlights the dilemma that Malaysians are facing: the flawed national assimilation that ran for so long, over half a century, and still is running high.

To be sure, the controversy over the awards was only the tip of the iceberg, for something larger, even bigger and much more horrifying actually lies underneath. Malaysians are so utterly torn and divided, some perhaps even absolutely clueless, as to the very definition of what it means to be a united Malaysian: that while we embrace and celebrate our multi-cultural and multi-religious diversity, it is in the end, in the one language that we should all look up to — regardless of our race or religion — to be the common unifying force, which we had all accepted Bahasa Melayu as our National language, as per the Federal Constitution.

Forget about the dream to truly become a “bangsa Malaysia”, when even such a move to award films using the national language (while not neglecting non bahasa local films as well, albeit in a separate category) is frowned upon by those who odiously alleged that it is “racially-divisive”. That was what the film-maker Afdlin Shauki cited when he decided to announce his boycott against this year’s FFM, conveniently leaving out the part that such categorisations are distinguished not based on race, but on language. Afdlin was then followed by a herd of others who jumped onto the bandwagon, including Nazir Razak who congratulated Afdlin and questioned “why the segregation?”; Tony Fernandes who supported Nazir; Jagat director, Shanjhey Kumar, who said such a move was a “disgrace”; and the cinematographer Mohd Noor Kassim inferring that it was racism, to name a few.

But is that really so? Read more

No language requirement for a ‘Malaysian film’ under Finas Act, says ‘Jagat’ team

Source: The Malay Mail Online

'Jagat' director Shanjhey Kumar Perumal (pic) and executive producer Sivanantham Perianan pointed out that the regulations for the 28th FFM nominations had not specified that the nominees use the national language as a medium. — Picture by Cinema Online

‘Jagat’ director Shanjhey Kumar Perumal (pic) and executive producer Sivanantham Perianan pointed out that the regulations for the 28th FFM nominations had not specified that the nominees use the national language as a medium. — Picture by Cinema Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 8 — The director and producer of critically-acclaimed film Jagat have questioned the Malaysia Film Festival’s (FFM) insistence for local films to use the Malay language yesterday, which has led to its controversial segregated nominations.

The duo — director Shanjhey Kumar Perumal and executive producer Sivanantham Perianan — called on organiser Malaysia Film Producers Association (PFM) to explain the source behind its language requirement, claiming that such a thing does not exist in the Finas Act 1981.

“Finas Act 1981 does not touch on the use of national language as the only medium for filmmaking. In fact, there is no definition stipulating what exactly a ‘national film’ or ‘Malaysian film’ is,” they said in a statement.

They pointed out that the regulations for the 28th FFM nominations had not specified that the nominees use the national language as a medium.

“Therefore, we request for PFM to explain and exhibit the source of authority for the 70 per cent Bahasa Malaysia requirement that becomes the reference in shortlisting and judging the best picture for FFM all this while,” they said.

The duo questioned whether language requirement was only put in place by the organisers of FFM, and suggested that it can be revised through a dialogue session with stakeholders if that was the case.

They also suggested for the festival’s committee to benchmark FFM with national film festivals held in India, which they claimed has a more complex pluralistic society than Malaysia. Read more

Malaysian film awards chief jurist cites Constitution in defence of language segregation policy

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Shanjhey Kumar Perumal’s Jagat was left out of nominations for the main Best Picture at FFM28. — file pic

Shanjhey Kumar Perumal’s Jagat was left out of nominations for the main Best Picture at FFM28. — file pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 6 — The chief jurist for next month’s 28th Malaysia Film Festival Awards (FFM28) defended the language segregation policy for the Best Picture category and urged enthusiasts not to racialise the issue.

Nancie Foo said the use of Bahasa Malaysia as factor in the main Best Picture award category was in line with the Federal Constitution to preserve its identity as the national language.

But she also said FFM had introduced three new categories in recent years to accommodate films in other tongues.

“In 2011, we introduced the Best Picture for non-Bahasa Malaysia category to provide an opportunity for films in languages other than Bahasa Malaysia to compete.

“Now, we have added two more categories that is Best Screenplay and Best Director for non-Bahasa Malaysia films,” she told Malay daily Utusan Malaysia Online yesterday. Read more