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.
Popular actor-director Afdlin Shauki and award-winning cinematographer Mohd Noor Kassim declared they would boycott the 28th FFM set to take place from September 1 to 3 here; the latter who was again nominated as Best Cinematographer this year for combat film Bravo 5 went a step further and returned his two past FFM trophies won, protesting the segregation policy, which he claimed to be racist.
Shortly after, Hafiz Ibrahim resigned as assistant general secretary of the Film Directors’ Association of Malaysia earlier this week in protest.
The National Film Development Corporation Malaysia came under fire for preserving the Bahasa Malaysia film policy, even though its director-general Datuk Kamil Othman reportedly did not play a role in the nomination of films for the Best Picture category.