By Shazwan Zulkiffli

A few days ago, the good people at ERA FM, specifically in the MeleTOP division, released a parody of Yuna’s duet with Usher in the song “Crush” that featured a Malay man in blackface– indicating that he represented Usher, an African American R&B superstar and one of the biggest names in pop. The issue received tremendous backlash and forced ERA to apologize for their actions before deleting the video from their social media accounts- a rage understandable when one considers the history of blackface in American media.

Today, another racism-fueled issue went viral in the local entertainment scene – but this time in the Malaysian film industry, as Festival Filem Malaysia, one of the most celebrated film awards ceremonies in the country, continued to segregate awards based on language.

The FFM, which has entered their twenty-eighth year celebrating the film industry, has decided to keep the Filem Terbaik Bukan Di Dalam Bahasa Melayu Category even after veteran director Erma Fatima and other personalities voiced opposition to the idea and demanded it to be cancelled.

However the FFM passed the category anyway in hopes of promoting more Malay-language movies, effectively discounting the two most critically acclaimed local films to date, Jagat and Ola Bola.

This is the full list of nominees for this year’s FFM28:

FILEM TERBAIK FFM28

NOTA

POLIS EVO

MUNAFIK

MAT MOTO – KAMI MAT MOTO BUKAN MAT REMPIT

JEJAK WARRIORS

FILEM TERBAIK BUKAN DI DALAM BAHASA MALAYSIA

OLA BOLA

MARAVAN

JAGAT

HUAT THE FISH

THE KID FROM THE BIG APPLE

PENGARAH TERBAIK FFM28

GHAZ ABU BAKAR / POLIS EVO

SAW TEONG HIN / JEJAK WARRIORS

SHAMYL OTHMAN / REMBAT

SYAMSUL YUSOF / MUNAFIK

WAN HASLIZA WAN ZAINUDDIN / LOVE SUPERMOON

PENGARAH TERBAIK (FILEM BUKAN DI DALAM BAHASA MALAYSIA)

CHIU KENG GUAN / OLA BOLA

JESS TEONG / THE KID FROM THE BIG APPLE

PUVANENDRAN SELVARAJA / MARAVAN

SHANJHEY KUMAR PERUMAL / JAGAT

YEE KWAN HUAH & SILVER / HUAT THE FISH

PENGARAH BAHARU TERBAIK

FEROZ KADER / SUAMIKU ENCIK PERFECT 10

PEKIN IBRAHIM / MAT MOTO – KAMI MAT MOTO BUKAN MAT REMPIT

SHANJHEY KUMAR PERUMAL / JAGAT

JESS TEONG / THE KID FROM THE BIG APPLE

DAVEN RAGHAVAN / CCTV

PELAKON WANITA TERBAIK

LISA SURIHANI / SUAMIKU ENCIK PERFECT

MAYA KARIN / NOTA

MAYA KARIN / JWANITA

NABILA HUDA / MUNAFIK

NADIYA NISAA / LOVE SUPERMOON

PELAKON BAHARU WANITA TERBAIK

FALISHA CROSLEY / MAT MOTO – KAMI MAT MOTO BUKAN MAT REMPIT

MARIANNE TAN / OLA BOLA

NUR RISTEENA / GIRLFRIEND KONTRAK

RAJA ILYA / SUAMIKU ENCIK PERFECT

ZARA ZYA / REMBAT

PELAKON LELAKI TERBAIK

AARON AZIZ / SUAMIKU ENCIK PERFECT

ANIU / REMBAT

PEKIN IBRAHIM / MAT MOTO – KAMI MAT MOTO BUKAN MAT REMPIT

SHAHEIZY SAM / POLIS EVO

ZIZAN RAZAK / POLIS EVO

PELAKON BAHARU LELAKI TERBAIK

ADAM SHAHZ / JUVANA 2 – TERPERANGKAP DALAM KEBEBASAN

CHE AMAR / CHOWRASTA

KEITH FOO / GIRLFRIEND KONTRAK

MAS KHAN / BIASAN

SARAN KUMAR / OLA BOLA

PELAKON PEMBANTU WANITA TERBAIK

ADELINE TSEN / GAMATISME

AMINAH RHAPOR / CHOWRASTA

ANNE NGASRI / LOVE SUPERMOON

CHRISTINA SUZANNE / JWANITA

FAUZIAH DATO’ AHMAD DAUD / LANGIT CINTA

PELAKON PEMBANTU LELAKI TERBAIK

RAMLI HASSAN / NOTA

AZAD JAZMIN / GIRLFRIEND KONTRAK

HASNUL RAHMAT / JUVANA 2 – TERPERANGKAP DALAM KEBEBASAN

HUSHAIRI HUSAIN / POLIS EVO

SRI  BALASUBRAMANIAM / OLA BOLA

PELAKON KANAK-KANAK TERBAIK

ALIFF FIRDAUS / JEJAK WARRIORS

HARVIND RAJ / JAGAT

RYQAL ISKANDAR / CICAKMAN 3

SHIVATHARAN NAMBIAR / OLA BOLA

TAN QIN LIN / THE KID FROM THE BIG APPLE

CERITA ASAL TERBAIK

OLA BOLA

REMBAT

MAT MOTO – KAMI MAT MOTO BUKAN MAT REMPIT

JAGAT

THE KID FROM THE BIG APPLE

LAKON LAYAR TERBAIK FFM28

NOTA

SUAMIKU ENCIK PERFECT

POLIS EVO

MAT MOTO – KAMI MAT MOTO BUKAN MAT REMPIT

LOVE SUPERMOON

LAKON LAYAR TERBAIK (FILEM BUKAN DI DALAM BAHASA MALAYSIA)

OLA BOLA

THE KID FROM THE BIG APPLE

HUAT THE FISH

MARAVAN

JAGAT

SINEMATOGRAFI  TERBAIK

POLIS EVO

BRAVO 5

MUNAFIK

MAT MOTO – KAMI MAT MOTO BUKAN MAT REMPIT

JAGAT

PENYUNTING TERBAIK

OLA BOLA

JAGAT

THE KID FROM THE BIG APPLE

POLIS EVO

MUNAFIK

PENATAAN SENI TERBAIK

JAGAT

BRAVO 5

OLA BOLA

HUAT THE FISH

THE KID FROM THE BIG APPLE

PENATAAN BUNYI TERBAIK

REMBAT

POLIS EVO

MUNAFIK

MAT MOTO – KAMI MAT MOTO BUKAN MAT REMPIT

VILLA NABILA

KESAN VISUAL KHAS TERBAIK

KAPSUL

OLA BOLA

MUNAFIK

CICAKMAN 3

THE NOISE

PEREKA KOSTUM/BUSANA TERBAIK

OLA BOLA

CICAKMAN 3

BRAVO 5

THE KID FROM THE BIG APPLE

POLIS EVO

SKOR MUZIK ASAL TERBAIK

CHOWRASTA

JWANITA

PILOT CAFÉ

OLA BOLA

MUNAFIK

LAGU TEMA ASAL TERBAIK

NUR ZAIDI ABD RAHMAN – LANGIT CINTA (DAYANG NURFAIZAH)

SYAMSUL YUSOF – KALAH DALAM MENANG (SYAMSUL YUSOF & MAWI)

EDRY ABDUL HALIM – ADIWIRA (ZIZAN RAZAK & KRU)

NUR ZAIDI ABD RAHMAN – UNTUK CINTA (DAYANG NURFAIZAH)

ZEE AVI & RENDRA ZAWAWI – ARENA CAHAYA (ZEE AVI)

Due to this categorization, two of the best films this year: Ola Bola and Jagat, will not be getting their chance to compete for the Filem Terbaik category, and instead, the critically and commercially panned Jejak Warriors is the front runner for that category.

What?

Let’s dissect the whole situation and visit each point to get a more complete view on the issue:

  1. Films are segregated based on language: Why?

Yes, why? Why do films need to be segregated based on language? Does Bahasa Malaysia have a higher standard than English, Mandarin, and Tamil in the film industry? It is a given fact that Bahasa Malaysia is the national language of Malaysia, and it’s being used as a lingua franca among Malaysians. However, awards should be given based on the quality of the film, not the language used in the film. Beauty and quality have no language barrier – but even if there is a small one, why is it everyone’s problem?

 

  1. It’s been happening for 28 years

28 years! 28 years of racism sitting comfortably on a throne for the world to see and no one said anything about it until last year. 28 years of rejection and discrimination just because someone decides to talk in a different way. How long will this form of racism exist in the system of a multicultural country where everyone is supposed to get equal opportunities to succeed in their own fields? No one knows.

 

  1.  Why is Jejak Warriors part of the shortlist

The entry of Nota, Munafik, and Polis Evo calls for a tight fight between three finely written, directed and produced Malaysian films. Two other Malaysian films, Ola Bola and Jagat, should also belong in that same list due to the quality of the films and the response that these films got. Instead of getting two good films in the list – they put in Jejak Warriors, which is basically a 1 hour product placement ad for the Kelantan Red Warriors, now owned by entrepreneur Dato Vida’s Qu Puteh. How did a film, with that kind of quality, get shortlisted into the list for the best films this year? Whatever it is, it’s ridiculous. Try putting in Batman V Superman in the Oscars’ shortlist for Best Movie, sure Kanye West will interrupt!

 

  1. Complicated competition

2015 – 2016 saw how non-Malay speaking films could break bank at the box office and launch cast and crew to stardom – but more importantly, break into that mainstream consciousness shared between all Malaysian communities. Ola Bola alone broke box office records, before Boboiboy took over the crown, that is. If this continues and the demand for Malaysian films (not necessarily Malay speaking films) spikes, it only creates a weird, unnecessary competition between 2 scenes: the Malay scene and the non Malay scene. Weird right? Only in Malaysia.

 

  1. Why aren’t more personalities speaking up?

To be frank, the country is blessed with a plethora of talented individuals, especially in the arts. Unfortunately, other than Erma Fatima, PENULIS, and other selected few – none of the big names are saying something about this problem in our film awards industry. If the best ones in the industry refuse to recognize the problem, then when will this stop?

Malaysia is already, in a way segregated in many different aspects. The arts were the only thing that kept us together, so why divide us again? When can we achieve a healthy industry without any politics based on race, religion, or even language? The answer lies with the viewers, with you. Supporting films films you like, whether with your wallet or with your words, should be the duty of all of us.

After all, if the youth don’t support the youth, no one will.

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