Malaysia, I think, has the distinction of organising international film festivals which die after one or two editions. We cannot seem to organise an international film festival of note that is in the same league as Singapore's or Bangkok's or even Jakarta's.
For example, the second edition of the Kuala Lumpur International International Film Festival this year, to be held on the 24th of November, has yet to post its own website. It in fact shares a website with sinema malaysia at www.sinemamalaysia.com.my.
Even then, it has not been updated since April this year.
Compare that to Pusan's or Jakarta's fest website, it's like there is nothing of any value.
As festival goers, we need to know what is happening or what will be screened months before hand. Only then could we decide on our schedule.
For example, on the 19th to the 22nd of November, the Asia-Pacific Film Festival begins in Jakarta. Though not a serious film festival, it is fun to attend.
Then on the 29th, also in Jakarta, the top rated JakJazz festival begins with Yellowjackets headlining. I'm not going to miss that.
So, what has KLIFF have to offer us filmgoers and film fans so that it becomes part of our November schedule? I don't know.
But as usual, it will have awards for best regional films - the only festival to do so, I think. Awards for Best South American film, Best North American film, Best European film, Best African film and Best Asian film will be up for grabs. Why? I don't know. Maybe it is a gimmick that the organisers think will attract top filmmakers from all over the world - maybe they feel that they stand a better chance to win awards when there's more categories.
I don't really care lah but one major failure of all festivals organised in Malaysia is that there is a lack of screening for the public. International film festivals is not just about a group of international film makers screening their films for peers and jurors and going to dinners to receive their awards. It is about screening films to the public. It is about informing the public what films are in town, where it is being screened, what times and how much the tickets would be. It is a film festival, damn it. So let us film fans see it.
When I go to film festivals, I watch at least four movies a day, jumping from one screening to the other. In Teheran, the renown film festival holds screenings at two venues - one venue for industry professionals and film critics and the other for the public. I had a wonderful time.
We really want to know if KLIFF will be screening all the films in competition? Will it also have non-competition films for viewing? Heck, I don't know. The programme is not out yet.
I'm not going to criticise the management. I know them personally. But most of the successful film festivals around the world celebrates films and are managed by commissions whose leaders are passionate about movies. They visit other festivals religiously. They know the other commissioners and organisers. They know the filmmakers. They know what movies and movie makers to approach and they are excellent promoters. Who does our organisers know?
Nevertheless, as long as KLIFF has governmental backing, it will go on year after year as a footnote amongst 'insignificant; international film festivals.
I am not saying that I want KLIFF to reach to lofty heights of Berlin or Venice, but would it be something if it can be compared positively against JIFF and the Bangkok Film Festival. But I don't think that's going to happen. Just look at the poster (it could be a temporary poster though) that appeared in the sinema malaysia website.
Does it have anything referring to cinema? You might be excused if you think the poster is for another dance festival. So, you be the judge. The festival is in November - it only has just over two months to get its act into place. If not it'll be another RM3 million waste of time.