‘The Garden of Evening Mists’ at next year’s Oscars? Maybe, says Finas chairman Hans Isaac

Hans said equal opportunity must be given to other Malaysian films that show Oscar-worthy calibre. — Bernama pic
Hans said equal opportunity must be given to other Malaysian films that show Oscar-worthy calibre. — Bernama pic

PETALING JAYA, Jan 24 — National Film Development Corporation (Finas) chairman Datuk Hans Isaac sees the movie adaptation of Tan Twan Eng’s novel The Garden of Evening Mists as a strong contender to represent Malaysia at next year’s Academy Awards.

However, he said Finas won’t make any hasty decisions just yet when it comes to submitting potential titles for the prestigious award show and will wait to see what other local filmmakers bring to the table in 2020.

“When we pick the film to represent Malaysia, we will look at all the other titles that have come out that year as well.

“We don’t want to make any decisions now because somebody else might come out with a great film as well and we have to give them equal recognition and opportunity,” he said when contacted by Malay Mail.

Hans, who assumed his position as Finas chairman in April last year, said that the agency will buckle down to avoid the issues that prevented a Malaysian film from being shortlisted for the Best International Feature Film category at the 92nd Academy Awards.

This included delayed communication and information failing to reach them in time for submission deadlines.

“Hopefully, we will be better prepared for the next Oscars when we submit the films for nomination.

“The previous Oscars was very last-minute for us and we got information very late, and we do not want that to happen again.

“We will make preparations ahead of time next year and whichever film represents Malaysia at the Oscars, we hope it is a wonderful film that we can be proud of.”

When asked what he thought about The Garden of Evening Mists, the 48-year-old producer and actor said he was blown away by the film after first watching it three months ago.

He added that he was “extremely proud” that it had swept up nine nominations at the 56th Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan, including Best Narrative Feature, Best Director, Best Leading Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Makeup & Costume Design, Best Original Film Score and Best Film Editing.



“From a technical point of view, it’s unquestionable. Great acting and performance by the cast. As chairman of Finas, we’re extremely proud of the film.

“For a Malaysian production and a Malaysian company to unite manpower and expertise from all around the world to shoot a film like this is world-class.”

The Garden of Evening Mists premiered in Malaysia on January 16 and tells the story of a woman who seeks refuge from the brutality of World War II in the rolling hills of Cameron Highlands.

While building a Japanese garden in honour of her late sister, she meets the former gardener of the Japanese emperor and the two find themselves entangled in a forbidden love affair.

The film features a global cast including Taiwan-based Malaysian actress Angelica Lee Sinje, Japanese actor Hiroshi Abe, Taiwanese actress Sylvia Chang and British actor David Oakes.

It was produced by Astro Shaw and HBO Asia with support from Finas in association with CJ Entertainment.

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