A little leak came trickling to my ears recently. It seems, that during the pre-judging discussion between the organisers and the jury panel for the Best Film award, someone told them that the criteria for Best Film should be a film that has strong patriotic and cultural themes. Hmmmm....imagine the statement being made to the voters of the American Oscar awards - you guys must vote a movie that has strong patriotic themes - damn, if this had happened the last three movies that won Best Film - Dreamgirls, The Departed and No Country For Old Men would never have had a chance.
Now, surprisingly in this week's Filem Festival Malaysia (Part 21), there is one film that fits the criteria to a T. Only one. 1957: Hati Malaya directed by Shuhaimi Baba.
Now, would this box office failure garner the Best Film award? I'm sure it will. The only movies that could give it a run for its money are Sepi and Anak Halal. However, both films do not comply with the 'organisers' request that the Best Film must have a patriotic theme - obvious or otherwise.
Heck, in my opinion, all these films shouldn't win the Best Film award because the best film isn't even participating....because it was shot digitally and was in Mandarin.
On the other hand, there is a movie that none of us has seen - Wayang, a college financed movie directed by Dr Hatta Azad Khan, that may be in with a shout. The script had won a past screenplay competition organised by Finas.
So, as the organisers mull over the awards - how could they not give the Best Film to Hati Malaya - a movie that revolves around our efforts to win our national independance? Don't care lah if it is lousy - it has a great patriotic theme. And it costs a bundle too. It MUST win!
Or why not give the award to Wayang - a culturally safe movie, directed by a former Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka officio from a script that has won a Finas organised script competition (so maybe the screenplay award is a foregone conclusion) and since this movie is one that is financed by a college and has yet to be screened (a win would definitely give the movie a boost at the box office).
Furthermore, I won't even imply that the Finas DG is related to someone in the production of Hati Malaya. That would be hitting under the belt. I'm sure that has not bearing at all on the results.
I mean imagine the same kind of accusation be leveled at it as when my movie Ah Lok Kafe won an award for Best Child actor. It became a controversy because the person presiding over the Jury (even though he abstained) was accused of bias (his sin was that he also acted in the same movie).
He duly resigned from the Presidency of the Association of Film Producers due to this incident.
You see, the local film industry can be very petty. The powers that be can't see forest for the trees. And for most times too, we are all living in denial. We don't believe that we are so far behind in terms of cinematic achievement and quality as compared to our neighbours.
And the hype about going global, breaking into the global market, is just hype.
So, here again we celebrate another festival, another year of dishing out awards to movies that won't even make a dent at major world festivals, and another year of mendabik dada and claim that we have arrived. Arghhhhhhh!
Anyway, here is my prediction:
Best Film: 1957 Hati Malaya
Best Director: Shuhaimi Baba
Best Screenplay: Wayang (guessing)
Best New Director: Hans Isaac
Best Actor: Someone from Sepi
Best Actress: Someone from Sepi
Best Cinematography: Congkak
Best Supporting Actress: Someone from Hati Malaya
Best Supporting Actor: Someone from Wayang (guessing here)
Best Editing: Impak Maksima
Best Art Direction: Hati Malaya
Best Child Actor: Ezrynne for Congkak
Jury Award: Hati Malaya for best patriotic theme film
Akhirat for best film to touch on a social issue (AIDS)
Duyung for best film to utilise CG and best box office performance for 2007