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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Big showing for Malaysian films at the 19th Tokyo International Film Festival

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Walski's quickie note: Thanks, Yasmin, for the heads up on this, and congratulations!

Image hosting by PhotobucketThe upcoming 19th Tokyo International Film Festival, from 21 - 29 October, 2006, will be something the Malaysian film industry can be very proud of. For a change, this is one of the few occassion where the clichéd "Malaysia Boleh" can be uttered with pride.

Nine Malaysian films have been selected for this showcase, with three of them having their World Premiere at the festival. The three films that will be having their world premiere at this festival are:
Mukhsin (dir: Yasmin Ahmad)
The Bird House (dir: Khoo Eng Yow)
Goodbye Boys (dir: Bernard Chauly)

Prominently featured during festival will be Yasmin Ahmad, through a retrospective of all four of her films, including her latest film, Mukhsin, which is scheduled for local Malaysian release at the end of this year.

All the Malaysian films are featured under the Winds of Asia section of the festival, in which, 35 films from all over Asia are to be featured. The other Malaysian films to be shown at TIFF 19 include:
Rabun (dir: Yasmin Ahmad)
Sepet (dir: Yasmin Ahmad)
Gubra (dir: Yasmin Ahmad)
Rain Dogs (dir: Ho Yu Hang)
Love Conquers All (dir: Tan Chui Mui)
Before We Fall In Love Again (dir: James Lee)
(more in the full post)

Each and every one of the Malaysian films (Yasmin's older ones excluded) is also in the running for the Best Asian Film award.

It is indeed heartening whenever Malaysian film creativity gets recognized in international festivals such as TIFF. Such recognition for creative talents that have labored to produce these films, is definitely deserved.

Back home in Malaysia, it is a different story, where sensitivities of certain very vocal parties make it very difficult for film professionals to explore their full potential. Over-sensitivities, in fact, fueled by the almost fascist Malay entertainment press.

On the one hand, thought provoking films such as Gubra are labelled as dangerous, immoral, and insulting to the Malays and Islam. Similarly, Lelaki Komunis Terakhir (The Last Communist) never saw the light of day, no thanks to the Malay-language media-driven frenzy that led to the film being banned (despite being approved, initially, by the Malaysian Censorship Board) - the excuse? For promoting communism, and allegedly glorifying a certain non-Malay historical figure.

On the other hand, suggestive scenes (between Malay males and females) portrayed in Remp-It didn't raise as ire in the Malay-language entertainment press. It's this type of inconsistency that makes many thinking Malaysians question the motives behind what drives the Malay-language entertainment press.

Perhaps the solution may be something banal, like making sure a film's marketing budget sets $omething a$ide for the key Malay-language press individuals. You know, since, back-scratching has become almost a culture in this nation. At the very least, no one could accuse the film (or its producers) as going against 'cultural norms'.

In any case, Walski sincerely hopes that the films selected for the 19th TIFF will do well, and myAsylum will keep a watchful eye on the festival, commencing a little later this month. Unfortunately, Walski won't be able to spare the resources to actually attend the festival, as much as he would love to.

Perhaps, in the end, such recognition in itself is proof that our film industry has some hope to further progress, despite the lack of deserved recognition on home soil.

Only time, as they say, will tell...

Walski's post epilogue: Nothing would give Walski more pleasure than to have the films nominated in the 19th TIFF do very well. It would be nice to see a certain anti-creativity persona eat crow, for a change...