Five things Festival Filem Malaysia could and should improve on

Nabil Raja Lawak and Sherry Alhadad hosted FFM 28. — Picture by Cinema Online
Nabil Raja Lawak and Sherry Alhadad hosted FFM 28. — Picture by Cinema Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 18 — The 28th Malaysian Film festival (FFM 28) ended with Jagat taking home the Best Film award while Munafik was named as the Best National Film for 2016.

However, before FFM 28 took place, there had been a great deal surrounding the language segregation of categories especially for the Best Film and Best Non-Bahasa Malaysia Film categories.

After facing backlash and boycotts, and in order to resolve all the arising issues, the National Film Development Corporation of Malaysia (Finas) had taken the necessary steps by making several changes to the categories including the introduction of the new Best National Film category, and absorbing both Bahasa and non-Bahasa Malaysia nominees into the original main categories.

Now that the event has ended, all’s well seems to have ended well. But did it really?

Here are some of the glaring aspects that we’ve noticed at FFM 28 which we think should be taken into account in the future for a more wholesome and prestigious event that our country’s national film awards deserves.

Absence of several important stars

This year’s FFM noticed the absence of several important names. Some of the noticeable ones which were expected for this year but were nowhere to be seen were Ola Bola director Chiu Keng Guan and its main actor JC Chee, Polis Evo star Zizan Razak, Love Supermoon actress Nadiya Nisaa and director Wan Hasliza Wan Zainuddin, Rembat actor Aniu and Suamiku Encik Perfect 10! star Aaron Aziz, among others.

Though we’re not sure why the above mentioned stars were unable to attend the annual ceremony, it would seem that this year there are more ‘VIPs’ present as compared to familiar artistes. Could it have been part of a boycott effort or did the schedule of the stars really not tally with the FFM main event date? Either way, it would’ve been a more glamorous event if the absence of several familiar faces weren’t that apparent. This is after all a film festival and what is a festival without the stars?

Proper procedure for red carpet event

During the red carpet event at FFM 28, only one backdrop was prepared for the photographers including those from TV stations. So when the celebrities and personalities arrived at the red carpet, some were ushered to the FFM 28 backdrop for an interview session, while others were asked to immediately go into the ceremony hall.

Because of this, the photographers had to personally stop the stars from going straight into the hall in order to take photos of them, and this caused a ‘traffic congestion’ at the red carpet entrance.

Using the Oscars for an example, all of the artistes who arrived at the red carpet should have been ushered to stop in front of the backdrop first, before going into the hall. This way, the photographers can take proper photos of them without having other people walking or passing behind them.

Backdrop and space backstage

After receiving their awards on stage, all the winners will go through backstage for a quick photo and interview session, before going back into the hall. However, the space backstage was too small for the photographers to take proper pictures of the winners and their awards.

Again, a place with a proper FFM backdrop should be prepared and the winners should make a quick stop there for press photos before going back into the ceremony hall. Everyone knows how important those backstage press conference, interviews and photos are; it’s the first real and raw reaction from the stars captured for fans to see and read about.

Highlight was given to Best National Film instead of original award category, Best Film.

Every year, the much-awaited moment always falls on FFM’s Best Film award, but now that Finas has introduced the new Best National Film category, the spotlight of the award ceremony is now shining on that category instead. This is a bit strange as it is a newly introduced new category after all, so why it has taken the torch from the long-standing Best Film category is lost on us. Did Best Film just get demoted?

Even though Finas had tried to solve the segregation issue by allowing both Bahasa and non-Bahasa Malaysia films to compete in several main categories including Best Film, Best Director and Best Screenplay, the fact that the main spotlight is still on Best National Film which only allows Bahasa Malaysia films in the category, doesn’t really solve the original problem.

This means even if there is a much better quality movie in the Best Film category like, The Revenant (Just as an example) than all the films in the Best National Category, it doesn’t matter at all, as that Best National Film which falls short against “The Revenant” in overall quality would still dominate over the Best Film winner which has now been placed on second tier.

Public voting should be introduced

For 28 years, all of the winners of FFM were chosen by members of the jury who are made up of people from the local arts and film industry who are handpicked by Finas. While it is not known how the jury picks their winners, it is believed that each of the jury members have their own ways of judging the winners’ criteria.

To avoid criticism and negative comments from the people who say that the jury members themselves should not also compete for the awards (see: cronyism), it would’ve been better if the public were allowed to contribute at least 40 per cent of the votes on picking the winners. This way, both parties could be satisfied on the outcome of the results which can be deemed only fair. — Cinema Online