Today was the opening of the Congress. I arrived just after noon at Selesa Hotel which is situated along Jalan Tebrau in JB. As was expected, the lobby was full of entertainment personalities.
Checking in and registering was done without much hassle - a pleasant surprise.
I also got hold of the schedule, and from the looks of it, the Congress looks exciting - covering the various fields of entertainment and the arts - there are sessions on film, music, media, dance and theater.
Personalities from the music world seemed to have come in force (maybe because of MAHKOTA's chairman Dato Rahman Hassan involvement in the music industry). Throughout the afternoon I met quite a few old acquaintances and friends - Prof Dr Wan Zawawi from UKM, Ito formerly of Blues Gang, Manan Ngah, Dato Wah Idris, Dato Aziz Bakar and Joe Chelliah.
From the film industry - former FINAS DG Dato Zain Hamzah, Mansor Puteh, Ahmad Ibrahim, Mamat Khalid, Ahmad Tarmimi, Puad Onah from Grand Brilliance, Raja Azmi, Syed Mohammad and Dr Mahadi J. Murat.
What is sorely missing are representatives from the cinema, TV3, Astro, the Banks, LPF, the indie filmmakers, the younger generation of artistes and filmmakers (Hans Isaac, Adflin Shauki, James Lee, M. Subash).
The lack of actors and actresses make me wonder if the organisers think that artistes like Maya Karin, Fasha Sandha, Ida Nerina, Sofia Jane, Eman Manan, Zul Huzaimie and many others have got nothing to say about the state of the industry.
We need input from the younger generation because the industry will be theirs. We would be irresponsible to think that we can 'create' a future that is suitable for them without knowing their worries, their concerns and their aspirations.
But the most glaring absence to me was the Director General of FINAS - who, according to the organisers, was overseas on official business. Yeah right. Not sure who he sent as his representative.
Even the Deputy Director General of RTM, Dato' Adilah, made an effort to attend the Congress.
The opening ceremony was a straight forward and simple affair. It was held at the impressive JICC (Johore International Convention Center or PERSADA Johor). Johore's Chief Minister YAB Dato' Abdul Ghani Othman officiated the event and was proud that the Congress was being held in Johore Bharu.
Later in the evening, a dinner was held at the Selesa Hotel Ballroom and a good time was had by all and sundry. The seven course dinner was not that bad too.
Best thing about the dinner was that the live music was very traditional and Johore's famous zapin dance was also performed.
Dinner ended at 11 and everyone seems eager for the next day's sessions.
Tomorrow's event will be broken into four breakout sessions - film, music, media and theater/dance.
Amongst the presenters include Dato Zain Hamzah, Zakaria Ariffin, Mustafa Omar, Dato' Aziz Bakar and old friend Adnan Hashim (of Uitm Mass Comm faculty).
I will be commenting on and analysing Dato Zain Hamzah's paper along with a friend YM Raja Aznil.
His paper is entitled Perlu kah Satu Lagi Pelan Induk Pembangunan Industri Filem. What? Another white paper on the state of the film industry? Never!!!!
Let's see if this Congress will go the way of previous seminars which were just exercises in futility or surprise me and make my three hour drive to JB worth my while.