KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 11 — The National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas) has removed all three non-Bahasa Malaysia categories for the Malaysia Film Festival (FFM).
Finas said that it was introducing the new mechanism following the Communications and Multimedia Minister’s decision yesterday to open up FFM’s Best Picture category to all films regardless of language, as well as to create a Best Film in National Language category.
Finas said that all candidates in the now-abolished non-Bahasa Malaysia categories will be included in the main categories instead.
“The three categories that were announced before this, that is Best Picture (non-Bahasa Malaysia), Best Director (non-Bahasa Malaysia films) and Best Screenplay (non-Bahasa Malaysia films) are abolished.
“The shortlisted nominees for the categories that have been abolished will automatically be in contest with the existing nominees in the Best Picture FFM28, Best Director FFM28 and Best Screenplay FFM28 categories,” it said in a statement on its official Facebook page early this morning.
Finas, who is the organiser of the 28th edition of the FFM (FFM28) that will be held from September 1 to 3, also announced the films that will be contesting in the new Best Film in National Language category.
“For the Best Film in National Language, the shortlisted candidates for this category are the five films out of the Best Picture FFM28 nominees that use the National Language,” it said.
It also confirmed that other categories for the FFM awards remain unchanged.
This year, two new non-Bahasa Malaysia categories for Best Director and Best Screenplay were created for the FFM, adding on to the non-Bahasa Malaysia category for Best Picture that was introduced in 2011.
The disqualification of two critically acclaimed movies — Ola Bola and Jagat — from the main Best Picture category had sparked outrage both among the public and within the film industry. Both were nominated instead for Best Picture in the non-Bahasa Malaysia category.
At a forum last Monday night, Malaysia Film Producers Association president Datuk Yusof Haslam and its CEO Pansha Nalliah explained FFM’s roots as a festival decades ago featuring only Bahasa Malaysia films, and noted that the non-Bahasa Malaysia category for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay were introduced to give recognition to the Chinese and Tamil films that emerged in recent years.
Finas director-general Datuk Kamil Othman told Malay Mail Online last week that Finas has made it a policy for locally-made films to emphasise at least 70 per cent Bahasa Malaysia usage in their scripts in line with the government’s push to promote the national language, but admitted it would be ideal if the Best Picture category in FFM was open to all films regardless of language.
It is unclear if the 70 per cent Bahasa Malaysia content requirement still applies to the Best Film in National Language category as Finas did not elaborate on the criteria for the newly-created category.