After a week of constant debates and fiasco, the Communications and Multimedia Ministry has decided to abolish the non-Bahasa Malaysia awards in the Filem Festival Malaysia ke-28 (FFM28).
Minister of Communications and Multimedia, Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak, announced that decision yesterday (Wednesday, 10th August) in a statement. He also revealed that a new category, “Best Film In The National Language”, will be created in a bid to empower Bahasa Malaysia as the national language.
Salleh explained that the decision was made after consulting various parties and taking into the views of film industry players and members of the public. The amendment was made despite PFM’s (Malaysia Film Producers Association) insistence that only Malay films should be nominated.
FINAS (National Film Development Corporation Malaysia) also agreed to abide by the change, and they released a statement on their Facebook page explaining the new mechanism. In the statement, it was explained that films in the 3 non-Bahasa Malaysia categories, “Best Non-Bahasa Malaysia Film”, “Best Director For Non-Bahasa Malaysia Film”, and “Best Screenplay For Non-Bahasa Malaysia Film”, would compete in the main categories alongside with the original nominations. However, only the 5 films from the original “Best Film” category would compete in the “Best Film In The National Language” category.
FINAS director-general Datuk Kamil Othman also added, “Tomorrow we will discuss in our board meeting to decide on the next step which include changes.”
“Setem” and “Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa” cinematographer Mohd Noor Kassim, who previously returned his awards in a garbage bag, said that he was thankful for the change, but is adamant with his decision to not participate in the upcoming awards. He lauded the ministry for making a right decision, but said that more changes, such as not having industry associations organise the event, are needed.
The national film awards ceremony drew ire from netizens and the creative industry alike after unveiling this year’s nominees. The board’s decision to snub “Jagat” and “Ola Bola” when they put the movies under the “Best Non-Bahasa Malaysia Film” category and not the “Best Film” category did not sit well with many as the films were often touted as 2 of the best local-made films in recent years. Many pointed out that board was “racist” and “encouraging segregation” for making that decision.
FFM28, which is organised by FINAS, will take place on 3rd September at Plenary Hall, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.