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This is what unity looks like, says Jagat director

KUALA LUMPUR — Director Shanjhey Kumar Perumal has thanked fellow filmmakers and stakeholders for the removal of all non-Bahasa Malaysia award categories for the upcoming Malaysian Film Festival (FFM), saying this would now stimulate healthy competition for all filmmakers on a level playing field.

“This is what unity looks like. All the filmmakers competing on equal ground,” Shanjhey told Malay Mail Online.

“Everything is on point now and we are very happy. We thank Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak, Finas (National Film Development Corporation) and the Film Directors’ Association of Malaysia (FDAM). We thank each and every one who stood up as Malaysians for this cause.

“Movies and sports unite people … never segregate it.”

Finas has removed all three non-Bahasa Malaysia categories for the FFM next month and said it was introducing the new mechanism following Salleh’s decision to open up FFM’s Best Picture category to all films regardless of language, as well as to create a Best Film in National Language category.

Finas said all candidates in the now-abolished non-Bahasa Malaysia categories would be included in the main categories instead.

“The three categories announced before this — that is Best Picture (non-Bahasa Malaysia), Best Director (non-Bahasa Malaysia films) and Best Screenplay (non-Bahasa Malaysia films) — are abolished.

“The shortlisted nominees for the categories that have been abolished will automatically be in contest with the existing nominees in the Best Picture FFM28, Best Director FFM28 and Best Screenplay FFM28 categories,” it said in a statement on its official Facebook page yesterday.

Shanjhey said the issue of segregating films based on language was also raised by popular filmmaker Erma Fatima last year, but no action was taken.

“People allege Bahasa Malaysia (BM) is being ridiculed and so on, I totally disagree. There is no such thing. You can still make good movies in BM,” Shanjhey said.

“What happened today is a huge paradigm shift. It might seem like a small step but it’s a big achievement. We are all Malaysians. Our tiny differences should not segregate us.”

Finas, organiser of the 28th edition of the FFM which will be held from Sept 1 to 3, also announced the films that will be contesting in the new Best Film in National Language category.

It also confirmed other categories for the FFM awards remain unchanged.

This year, two new non-Bahasa Malaysia categories for Best Director and Best Screenplay were created for the FFM, adding on to the non-Bahasa Malaysia category for Best Picture, which was introduced in 2011.

The disqualification of two critically acclaimed movies — Ola Bola and Jagat — from the main Best Picture category had sparked outrage both among the public and within the film industry. Both were nominated instead for Best Picture in the non-Bahasa Malaysia category.