Come 17th December, Kaohsiung Taiwan, will host the 53rd Asia-Pacific Film Festival. This is a surprise as most people have already thought the the festival had died an untimely death.
Only five years ago, the 50th APFF was held in Kuala Lumpur. The year after, the 51st edition was held in Taipei.
Hong Kong was supposed to host the 52nd edition but due to the global recession, the festival was cancelled. The next host - Jakarta, in 2008, also decided against organising it.
After two years of cancellations, most people in the industry have already assumed that the festival, the oldest film festival in Asia, had run its course.
However, Taiwan seemed to want to revive this festival, and next week, it will welcome one of the smallest numbers of entries ever recorded for the festival.
Malaysia is sending three films - Afdlin Shauki's Papadom, Hatta Azad Khan's Wayang and Yasmin Ahmad's Talentime.
Selection criteria? Papadom was best film at the recent Malaysian Film Festival held in Sabah. Talentime won best director plaudits for the late Yasmin. And somehow, Wayang, which did not many awards at the recent Malaysian Film Festival, received accolades as the Best Film in TV3's annual Skrin Awards.
Not many Malaysian filmmakers will make the trip to Taiwan next week. Most in the industry knew nothing about the festival (until today's newspaper article in Berita Harian), but those who were informed realised that unless their producers pay for the trip or if FINAS picks up the tab, only then would they go.
The biggest surprise however is the sad omission of Karaoke, the first Malaysian movie to be shown in Cannes after 14 long years.
Malaysian filmmaker Chris Chong's internationally acclaimed Karaoke was screened at the Directors’ Fortnight of the 62nd Cannes Film Festival from May this year.
Karaoke (scene from the movie shown above) was nominated for the Camera d’Or (Golden Camera), the award for the best first feature film presented in any one of the Cannes’ selections (Official Selection, Directors’ Fortnight or International Critics’ Week). This distinction went unheralded in Malaysia and Karaoke's entry in Cannes this year was a bigger coup than Uwei Haji Shaari's Kaki Bakar which was screened under the Un Certain Regard category in 1995.
I guess a Malaysian movie which was selected to be screened in Cannes is not good enough to be selected by the Persatuan Pengeluar Filem Malaysia (PFM) as our country's representative to the 53rd APFF next week. I know the reason too. Firstly, the movie did not use Bahasa Malaysia as its main language (the filmmaker thought the most important language in his piece is film language) and the most glaring - the producer is not a member of PFM. Errmmm wait a minute, are Primeworks/Chilli Peppers and Uitm members of PFM?