The Malaysian Film Festival’s (FFM) decision to deny renowned local film as nominees in its best picture award, for reason of inadequate Bahasa Melayu content, is a typical example of how public administrator’s overzealousness can derail well-thought policies and be counterproductive.
The segregation policy runs counter to the two fundamental ideals Centre for A Better Tomorrow (Cenbet) promotes ie moderation and good governance.
The non-inclusive and dogmatic thinking behind the segregation policy will only add to the fissure already tearing at the ideals of moderation that has been the cornerstone of this country.
Further, Finas has abdicated its duties by allowing damaging discriminative practices to take place in a major event. This smacks of poor governance.
This segregation policy only makes us a laughing stock internationally.
All over the world, crossborder multi-lingual films are becoming more popular, as cinema-goers become more global in their outlook. These days, many box-office hits have an international cast in productions that benefit from cross-fertlisation of ideas, languages and cultures.
It is time Finas relook at its current practices to keep up with international trends and benchmarks and review processes where it is a major stakeholder, like the FFM.
Restricting top honours in FFM to only producers who make films exclusively in the Malay language is grossly unfair. Winners of the FFM awards should be judged solely by its creative, artistic and technical strength.
No productions should be denied of such honours on account of language or dialects they were made in. As the name of the awards suggest, FFM is held as a recognition of Malaysian films, not films of the Malay language.
Rightfully, artistic productions with multicultural themes should come as a natural choice, given Malaysia’s social structure and demographics. In fact, it makes commercial sense to produce films for a larger market than a mono-lingual one with single-race appeal.
But beyond business considerations, movies with multi-cultural themes allow viewers to understand each other better and this can help rid prejudice that stems from years of ignorance and distrust.
Such films help promote moderation and curb the rise of extremism.
Cenbet understands and respect the need to uphold and promote Malay as the national language.
Finas may want to consider holding a Malay language-only awards for this purpose, opened to include foreign participation, but the overall premiere award must be opened to all and be inclusive.
Gan Ping Sieu