Finas opens up Best Film, axes all non-BM awards


PETALING JAYA: The National Film Development Corporation (Finas) today announced the cancellation of non-Bahasa Malaysia (BM) categories for the upcoming Malaysian Film Festival.

The move is to comply with the directive from Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak that the Best Film award be open to all films made by Malaysians, regardless of language.

Similarly, as per the ministry’s decision, Finas said it is creating a new category for Best Film in the National Language.

“For the Best Film in the National Language category, all five films which were previously nominated in the Best Film category would remain the nominees.

“The above five films plus all the films nominated for Best Non-BM Film will now compete for the top prize of Best Film,” Finas said in a statement released today.

Aside from the removal of the Best Non-BM Film, Finas said that the categories of Best Director for Non-BM Film and Best Screenplay for Non-BM Film will be removed, and the nominees now will be part of the existing Best Director and Best Screenplay categories.

“All other category of awards remain the same,” Finas said, adding its wish is that the changes will give greater clarity and help the 28th Malaysian Film Festival move forward for the good of all players in the local film industry.

The FFM issue blew up last week when it was announced that Ola Bola and Jagat, two highly-rated and well-received local movies, were disqualified from the Best Film award category because it contained less than 70 per cent BM dialogue.

The organisers, comprising the Malaysian Film Producers Association (PFM) and Finas, announced that Ola Bola and Jagat would be nominated under the Best Non-BM Film category which had been in existence for a few years.

The controversy boiled over with the creation of two new categories, Best Director for Non-BM Film and Best Screenplay for Non-BM Film, which effectively excluded the two directors of Ola Bola (Chiu Keng Guan) and Jagat (Shanjhey Perumal Kumar) from winning the main Best Director award.

PFM President Yusof Haslam, had on Monday, defended the decision to place the two movies under the non-BM categories saying it was in line with the government’s policy to “preserve the national identity”.

He also said he will step down from being part of the organising committee of the Malaysian Film Festival from next year due to the conflict of interest that was a major bone of contention this year, with two movies directed by his sons getting the nod for Best Film.