‘Best BM Film’ replaces ‘Best Film’ as main FFM award

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PETALING JAYA: The organisers of the Malaysian Film Festival (FFM28) dropped a bombshell today, announcing a new main award category, Best National Film, which will comprise Malaysian films in Bahasa Malaysia (BM).

With the decision, the Best National Film award has replaced the original “Best Film” award as the FFM28’s ultimate prize on the upcoming awards’ night.

The Best National Film was originally called “Best Film in the National Language”, a new award category that was ordered to be created by Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak last week.

He had also instructed that the “Best Film” award be opened up to all Malaysian films regardless of language.

The “Best Film” award will now be known as “Best Malaysian Film” according to a statement from National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas) Chairman Mohd Khusairi Abdul Talib.

With the move, the statement said that the Best Malaysian Film award will now be only the penultimate prize at FFM28, which is scheduled to take place on Sept 3 at the KL Convention Centre, in Kuala Lumpur.

FFM28 is jointly organised by Finas and the Malaysian Film Producers Association (PFM), which is led by its president, Yusof Haslam. The FFM28 theme is “Transformasi Sinema Kita” (The Transformation Of Our Cinemas).

Prior to Salleh’s directive last week to open up the “Best Film” contest to all Malaysian films, the category was exclusive to Malaysian films with 70 per cent of the dialogue in BM.

Khusairi said the Best National Film award was the main national award for Malaysian films using Bahasa Malaysia, in line with the position of Bahasa Malaysia as the national language in the Federal Constitution.

“The Best Malaysian Film category is the award for the best Malaysian film using any language spoken by Malaysians.

“Finas hopes all parties will accept this decision without prejudice and polemic, in line with the Malaysian Film Festival’s objective of the government’s recognition of achievements in the film industry,” said Khusairi, who is the Barisan Nasional state assemblyman for Slim River (Perak).

Khusairi, 54, who is also the Perak Umno information head, was appointed chairman of Finas in September last year, taking over from Azalina Othman Said, who had been named earlier as a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department

He said that the Best Director Category and Best Screenplay for non-Bahasa Malaysia films had been abolished, and all films will compete in the Best Director and Best Screenplay categories, regardless of the language used in the films.

All other awards will be retained as they were prior to the minister’s directive.

In recent weeks, the FFM28 issue blew up 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 announced that Ola Bola and Jagat would be nominated under the Best Non-BM Film category which had been in existence since 2011.

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.

Subsequently, Salleh issued a directive that the Best Film award be open to all films made by Malaysians, regardless of language, and a new award be created called Best Film in the National Language (BM).

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