Project Oscar: Saifuddin challenges Finas to get Malaysian films to win in two, three decades

(From left) Communications and Multimedia Ministry secretary-general Datuk Suriani Ahmad, Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, Finas chairman Zakaria Abdul Hamid and Finas CEO Ahmad Idham Ahmad Nadzri at the Finas press conference in Petaling Jaya June 16, 2020. — Picture by Choo Choy May
(From left) Communications and Multimedia Ministry secretary-general Datuk Suriani Ahmad, Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, Finas chairman Zakaria Abdul Hamid and Finas CEO Ahmad Idham Ahmad Nadzri at the Finas press conference in Petaling Jaya June 16, 2020. — Picture by Choo Choy May

PETALING JAYA, June 16 — The National Film Development Corporation (Finas) has been tasked to come up with a roadmap in order for local films to win in the much-coveted Academy Awards, or popularly known as the Oscars.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah told a press conference today that the plan dubbed “Project Oscar” will be a medium-to-long-term plan that may probably take the Malaysian film industry around 20 to 30 years to achieve.

“We call it Project Oscar or Roads to Oscar — basically we are putting a target and then trying to work out how to achieve the target.

“It’s just like trying to achieve the gold medal at Olympics, there must be a target, programme, planning and when we will achieve it,” said Saifuddin.

He added that he is not the first minister to speak of this ambition, but he said it is time for Finas to put this plan to paper and build a roadmap that includes budget, long term strategy and lessons from other countries such as India and South Korea.

Saifuddin pointed out that if South Korea can pull it off, despite taking around 30 years before achieving their goal, Malaysia should try to do the same — a reference to Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite which won Best Picture last year.

Project Oscar is one of the four categories that Saifuddin has tasked Finas to achieve after his first meeting with them in his current ministerial role.

The second category is to develop the local film industry as a whole.

The third category is an incubator while the final one is a Special Category focusing on producing films that when viewed domestically can instill a sense of patriotism while at an international level showcases the Malaysian identity.

However, Saifuddin was quick to add that any current funds or grants held by Finas will not be utilised for Project Oscar.

These funds will be utilized to restart the local film making industries and ensure that those who make a living through film will have income for the next six months.

Similar to other industries, the Malaysian film industry have been badly hit due to the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the various movement control orders initiated by the government to control the outbreak.

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