The announcement by the Minister of Information, Communication and Culture Datuk Sri Dr Rais Yatim that local movies made in other languages (apart from Bahasa Malaysia) will now be entitled to tax rebates as enjoyed by movies that are made in Bahasa Malaysia, would be much welcomed by local film producers and investors.
Currently, under the local FINAS Act, local films are entitled to the rebates of 20% of box office (which is the entertainment tax levied on all movies by the state). This incentive however is only for movies with mostly BM dialogue.
Therefore movies that were made last year like Woohoo, Ais Kacang Puppy Love and End of Daybreak (financed by Taiwanese but made entirely in Malaysia) were not entitled to such rebates. These films are also not eligible to win the major prizes at the forthcoming Malaysian Film Awards.
Whilst the announcement is much awaited by the local non-BM film fraternity, Rais, and rightly so, clarified that the incentive is not a blanket order - the film will have to meet a few set criteria - content and box office results.
I am not sure what box-office results meant, but content requirement should be made a criteria.
This is because we do not want Indian or Chinese language local movies that do not even feel like a Malaysian movie but instead a pseudo Hongkong or Taiwanese movie or even a Singapore movie. On the other hand, feeble attempts to add in scenes with Malays in it are also not wanted. For example, the movie Kinta had really deplorable scenes of Malays which are badly shot and scripted. Rather not have that.
In Tiger Woohoo, the only scenes involving Malay dialogue and characters are when policemen are involved. Token scenes like these are really not true to the Malaysian spirit.
I hope Tayangan Unggul's Tamil remake of Papadom maintains its local flavor too.
Furthermore, I do hope that there will now be a growth of movies made in the kind of dialogue city-folks are used to - Malanglish or watever - so that the middle-upper income members of our society who look down on local cinema would support and come to view local movies.