Film Makers: TV Stations Should Set Things Rolling First

5 Jun

Shuhaimi Baba (left) says film makers have to cater to their audience, while Yasmin Ahmad says her films are not about cultural identity.
Shuhaimi Baba (left) says film makers have to cater to their audience, while Yasmin Ahmad says her films are not about cultural identity.

KUALA LUMPUR: There were mixed reactions from local film makers to a statement by Perlis mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin that Malay films are failing to portray an authentic Malaysian identity.

In a report in a Malay daily yesterday, Mohd Asri was quoted as saying that Malay film makers had lost their way in their search for identity and this had resulted in them producing absurd films with run-of-the mill themes such as horror, mystery and love.

He feels that local films should reflect a Malaysian identity that could be recognised internationally.

The mufti also said malevolent beings such as genies, monsters and ghosts in horror films must eventually be vanquished by faith in God.

Film producer and director Erma Fatima shared Mohd Asri’s sentiments.

Erma, whose credits include the period war movie Embun, said the glory of Malay identity lay in the culture.

“As an Islamic country, film makers should be able to take the responsibility to elevate the industry by portrayals of our religion, culture and heritage.

“I feel that TV stations should also shoulder the responsibility of promoting our cultural identity.”

Shuhaimi Baba, who has been churning out horror films, including the Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam series and Waris Jari Hantu, said the films were fictional and involved artistic fantasies.

“What he (the mufti) is asking for is a luxury. When the local film industry was struggling, film makers had to stand on their own.

“While it is true that films should promote nation-building, at the end of the day, what is important is what the audience wants.”

She added that the authorities should focus their attention on TV programming.

“TV stations should be proactive in educating the viewers because from there we will be able to break the mould in the cinemas.”

Award-winning director Yasmin Ahmad said her films represented humanity and were devoid of cultural identity.

“I don’t set out to do films to sell cultural identities,” said Yasmin, whose credits include the 2003 made-for-TV Rabun and movies like Sepet, Gubra and the yet-to-be released Muallaf.

 

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