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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Harakah Gubra-fied by FFM19 Decision

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Related post: The film that has Gubra-fied a nation (film review) & Gubra: Best Picture at 19th Malaysian Film Festival

This is almost too funny.

In the wake of Yasmin Ahmad's Gubra winning Best Picture at the recent 19th Malaysian Film Festival, Harakah apparently had to put in its two-sen worth, in an article that doesn't provide much of anything new, but rehashes previous reviews and opinions (obviously the negative ones), in a recycled-info piece put together by one Azamin Amin.

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Harakah, it seems, has been Gubra-fied.

You can read the origninal article (in Bahasa Malaysia) here. An English translation of the article is presented below.

Gubra accused of 'sending a message' of immorality as a way of life
by Azamin Amin, KUALA LUMPUR, 14 August (Harakah)

The public and critics have indicted 'Gubra', directed by Yasmin Ahmad, which emerged as Best Film at the 19th Malaysian Film Festival (FFM19), as a film that tries to legitimize and accept openly, immorality, besides hurting the sensitivities of Muslims and other races.

Besides that they are also uneasy with elements of "Islam Liberal" portrayed in this film, as it is feared that this may invite an unwelcome environment, and in addition implying a message that religion and certain actions have to be viewed solely from a point of view of human logic.

Other confusing messages include, despite an action being wrong, like prostitution, being in close proximity [between male and female], and seing one another [again between male and female] without any imposed limits, solely based on love, and mutual consent, these immoral activities have to be readily and openly accepted.

Some of the audiences interviewed felt that there is a hidden agenda by certain parties wanting to promote an ideology that leans towards unbridled human rights allowing one to do anything one wishes, without hinderance, which must be accepted by everyone because it has become a common lifestyle anywhere.

In a recent program Fenomena Seni, the film's producer David Teo provided a commentary on the film's message, was quoted as saying, that as a filmmaker, Yasmin has to be responsible for her film, as it may become a legacy for future generations.

"Yasmin has to respect sensitive issues, such as religion and race. Yasmin has to protect the feelings of our multicultural society in this country", he said.

It was also reported that home audiences that contacted the program said that Yasmin's method of presentation was not suitable for Malaysian society, and furthermore 59% of an audience survey through SMS agreed that Yasmin's films tarnished Malaysian culture.

A film critic partcipating in the program voiced out his opinion that Yasmin did not truly understand true Malaysian social culture.
(more gubra-field journalism in the full post)

He said, Yasmin clearly incorporated counter-cultural elements that could confuse the film's audience, for instance cultural elements that Yasmin carries could be seen in Orked's character in Sepet.

"Orked, as a Malay woman shown to have strong religious upbringing, but was only good enough for a Chinese illegal CD and VCD peddler, who could be categorized as a criminal", he indicated in the program.

Commenting on Gubra, the critic said that the characters of Bilal and his wife in the film, who were friendly and congenial towards the prostitutes, who were their neighbors, indicated that the portrayal was far from the character of a bilal.

The bilal should have alerted the authorites to arrest them (referring to the prostitutes).

"What kind of Bilal would tolerate immoral activities to carry on in his neighborhood", he asked.

A controversial producer then was reported to have said that the reality of life portrayed by Yasmin was not present in Malaysia.

"It is merely Yasmin's experience, meaning the film director's experience, and not the experience of the majority of Malaysians", the producer said.

However, the view of a Sisters in Islam representative was different, who was quoted to have said that the film in no way hurt or insulted Islam, and in fact, exhibited tolerance and emotional sincerity.

Gubra's success (in the festival) is considered a repeat of the success of Sepet in last year's 18th Malaysian Film Festival, a film also considered to portray counter-cultural and confusing messages.

The film was selected by the FFM19 jury panel, headed by Dato' Rahim Razali, Associate Professor Dr. Asiah Sarji, plus two foreign panelists, Zairin Zain from Indonesia, and Dr. Liu Li Hsing (from Taiwan).

It is clear that this article is mostly a rehash of information that's been published before, particularly with regards to the Fenomena Seni. It is also very intriguing why the author purposely left out the identities of the film critic, and so-called controversial film producer, whom we all know to be Akmal Abdullah (of Berita Harian, a.k.a. Jabba the Newsman) and Raja Azmi (producer of Black Widow Wajah Ayu).

Blogger earl-ku probably put the article into proper perspective in his Kukujiao entry earlier. To paraphrase what he said - get a f*cking life, people. These people are talking as if a gun was put to every Malaysian's head, forcing them to watch the film.

There is still this thing called choice. But reading what's been on the bloggerhood of late, it makes Walski wonder if very soon freedom of choice, like the leatherback turtle, will be in danger of extinction as well...