Malaysia’s national film awards ceremony, Filem Festival Malaysia ke-28 (FFM28), was under fire recently for segregating local-made movies based on language.
While many have complained about how the films are categorised on social media, famed cinematographer Mohd Noor Kassim has taken his objection a step further. Mohd Noor won several awards through “Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa” and “Setem”, but decided to return the awards in a garbage bag to the committee as part of his protest.
The exchange took place in Platinum Sentral, Kuala Lumpur, during a #tanyaFINAS session. After the 2-hour event, Mohd Noor walked up to Director General of FINAS (National Film Development Corporation Malaysia), Datuk Kamil Othman, and handed him his previous awards.
Mohd Noor, who also willingly pulled out from the 28th edition of the awards, expressed, “I am a Malay, but looks like Malays are afraid to compete with other races. As a Malay, this makes me feel ashamed.”
Explaining that it is the quality and the message of the film that matters and not the language, he continued:
“I am still not satisfied as we are all Malaysians. Why do we need the segregation?”
The filmmaker also had harsh words for the ruling, insisting that this year’s nominations were “all based on favouritism and is a political game”. He also commented that Malaysia might be taking huge steps forward into the future, but there are still some who have a backwards mindset.
Watch the video of the incident here:
It seems like despite the massive backlash, there will neither be any re-nominations for FFM28 nor change in the decision. This is because CEO of PFM (Malaysia Film Producers Association) N. Pansha and president Yusof Haslam said that only Malay films should be nominated since they are the ones using the national language.
However, there is still hope for future editions of the award show, as FINAS director-general Datuk Kamil Othman said that it is “not impossible” for the 3 non-Bahasa Malaysia categories, “Best Non-Bahasa Melayu Film”, “Best Director For Non-Bahasa Melayu Film”, and “Best Screenplay For Non-Bahasa Melayu Film”, to be abolished.
FFM28 will take place on 3rd September at Plenary Hall, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.