Finas says all’s well in FFM after minister’s explanation, no more boycotts

Finas director-general Datuk Kamil Othman (left) speaks during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, Aug 16, 2016. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Finas director-general Datuk Kamil Othman (left) speaks during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, Aug 16, 2016. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 16 — National Film Development Corporation of Malaysia (Finas) officials declared today an end to this year’s 28th Malaysia Film Festival (FFM) awards controversy, adding that there will be no more boycott by any industry player.

Finas director-general Datuk Kamil Othman said Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak offered a “clear explanation” to several major groups from the local film industry at a meeting this morning that helped clarify misconceptions about his previous decision regarding the award categories.

“It settled the controversy that has surfaced because of not having the full clarification of what the minister meant when he made the announcement.

“Remember he made the announcement on Wednesday, I think everybody was interpreting it in their own way, so what we said today was no more separate interpretation,” he told reporters here.

Last Wednesday, Salleh opened up the Best Picture category to all films. Previously, it was restricted to films with 70 per cent Bahasa Malaysia content.

At the same time, he also created a new category, for Best Film in National Language.

Kamil said the meeting revolved around the matter of carrying out the festival in the best way with the objective of uniting the film industry.

“All the associations were also present and I felt that this morning was productive as all the associations agreed that our objective is to unite and there’s no boycott,” he said.

“So we ended that meeting with all of us on the same page. We already know the situation and we will play our respective role to make what has been agreed on a success,” he said.

Finas deputy chairman Datuk Yusof Haslam said all the associations present agreed to adhere to the minister’s advice to stop their infighting and to unite.

He added that the term “boycott” was no longer used.

Kamil and Yusof confirmed that the major industry groups present at this morning’s meeting included the Film Directors’ Association of Malaysia (FDAM), the Professional Film Workers Association of Malaysia (Profima), Artiste Association of Malaysia (Seniman), Federation of Screen Guilds Societies of Malaysia (Gafim) and TV Producers Association of Malaysia (PTVM).

The duo declined to go into the details of today’s meeting, including whether there were any discussions or decision on Fdam’s recent call for the Best Film in National Language category to be made FFM’s most prestigious award.

They said the official announcement on the meeting outcome will be made tomorrow by Finas chairman Datuk Mohd Khusairi Abdul Talib.

When asked, Kamil said the criteria for the Best Film in National Language category will be revealed tomorrow.

“Tomorrow when we announce, then all the parametres will also be announced. Better make it official,” he said

Datuk Fauzi Ayob, who is both FFM28 organising committee chairman and Finas deputy director-general, said the film festival is intended to both celebrate and offer recognition to industry players.

He called for unity, noting the FFM is now into its 28th year.

“One language, one nation, one Malaysia and all Malaysians are in unity,” he said.

Last Thursday, Finas as the festival organiser said that it was abolishing all three non-Bahasa Malaysia categories at the 28th FFM, with films previously in these categories automatically placed in the main award categories of Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Director.

The non-Bahasa Malaysia category for Best Picture was introduced in 2011, while the non-Bahasa Malaysia categories for Best Screenplay and Best Director were introduced this year.

The 28th FFM awards will be given out on September 3.