Filmmaker slams Tony and Nazir for sudden ‘interest’ in films

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PETALING JAYA: Stick to fixing the services for AirAsia customers and loan services at CIMB, a filmmaker said today in response to criticism by corporate leaders Tony Fernandes and Nazir Razak.

Ahmad Ibrahim, or Mat London, said the two personalities had never been known to care about the development or problems of the local film industry.

However, Fernandes, boss of AirAsia Group, and Nazir, who is CIMB group chairman, had recently joined the bandwagon in criticising the nominations for the Malaysian Film Festival awards.

“All this while, these two have never cared about the development or the problems faced by our local film industry, in fact I have never seen them officially supporting to sponsor any film festivals, much less to sponsor FFM. But, when there is an issue like this, they are fast to join in and bash FFM,” said Ahmad in an interview published today by the Tabloid Seni website.

“When industry people ask for help from AirAsia and CIMB on film matters, they don’t entertain us,” he said. “There is no need to join in and heat up the situation. Fix what is in your place like the services for AirAsia customers and loan services at CIMB.”

Fernandes and Nazir were among those who had chimed in their thoughts after nominations for the films Ola Bola and Jagat for best film, best screenplay and best director were placed under the non-Malay language categories instead of the main Malay language categories.

Nazir’s comments were made after filmmaker and actor Afdlin Shauki announced he would boycott FFM this year because of the language segregation in some categories.

Nazir had congratulated Afdlin in an online posting, saying: “Respect. I was aghast to hear that my favourite, Ola Bola, and others can’t compete for best Malaysian movie. Why the segregation? Change will only happen because individuals like Afdlin make a principled stand, well done!”

In response Fernandes posted a comment to say that actors such as Afdlin, Hans Isaac and Harith Iskander might one day ‘win the Academy Award for a mixed movie’.

“Remember Cuci?” he asked, referring to the 2008 comedy starring Afdlin and Hans Isaac. “When will we realise our strength against the world is our diversity?”

Ahmad said he was touched that Fernandes and Nazir were both now concerned with the film festival but added that they did not need to meddle in the issue at hand.

He said the segregation was based on the spirit of the national film’s identity, explaining that it was a festival requirement that had been used for a long time, in line with the National Film Policy.

“We have to understand the issue first, don’t just say what comes to mind. We must respect the rules we made, we have a policy, requirements and Acts in place…including requirements to be a part of FFM. We have a national identity via our national films and our national language.”

However, another filmmaker, Jurey Latiff Rosli, did not share the same opinion. In a report by Malay Mail Online, Jurey said healthy competition was better, if it was possible. “IF we need to change the policy, change it,” said Jurey, who is president of the Coalition of Malaysian Filmmakers Association (Gafim).

He also said he was confused about which category to nominate a film in the Bajau language should it qualify for the festival. “I am set to direct a film in the Bajau language. Which category will I enter? It is not in the Malay language,” he asked.