Malay film award should be No. 1, says director

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PETALING JAYA: An official of the film directors association has insisted that the award for best film in Malay be placed at the pinnacle of the Malaysian film festival awards.

Syed Zulkifli Syed Masir, vice-president of the Film Directors’ Association of Malaysia, said the award for best film in Bahasa Malaysia should be considered the sole main award.

“We are saying put Bahasa Melayu as the most prestigious award in FFM,” he was quoted as saying in an interview with Malay Mail Online that such a ranking would be “in line with the Constitution of Malaysia, where Bahasa Melayu is the national and official language”.

The film festival has been mired in controversy after two films, Ola Bola, and Jagat, were ruled out of the Best Picture award for not meeting the requirement of 70 per cent Malay language content.

Communication minister Salleh Said Keruak then ordered that the Best Picture award be open to all, and a new award for best picture in Bahasa Malaysia be created.

However, the FDAM said on Thursday it would not support the film festival as it “does not want to be part of activities that are not in line with the Federal Constitution” because Bahasa Malaysia was not being placed at the highest level.

Two FDAM officials have left in protest against the association’s stand. On Monday assistant general secretary Hafiz Ibrahim resigned, followed yesterday by committee member Jeffrey Chiang.

Syed Zulkifli said FDAM would back this year’s film festival – to be held on Sept 1-3 – if Bahasa Malaysia was upheld with the award for Best Picture in the National Language being considered the top award. He said the minimum requirement of 70 percent content should remain.

The festival is organised by Finas, the national film development corporation.

A Best Picture award for non-Bahasa Malaysia films was introduced in 2011, and awards for best screenplay and best director (non-Bahasa Malaysia films) introduced this year.