By MANSOR BIN PUTEH
“Finas and the more than RM1 billion allocation it had got from the government since it was established in 1981 to promote nostalgia of past glories of the old Malayan cinema then based in Singapore”
THE National Film Development Corporation of Malaysia (Finas) was established under an Act of Parliament in 1981. It is going to be thirty-seven (37) years next year.
In the past Finas celebrated its establishment every year without fail on 26 July, by having a dinner function at five-star hotels but it was seldom full or lively. What was there for Finas to organize such a function when it was an agency that survived only due to government funding?
It would have been more appropriate if it has become an income-generating agency that all Malaysians could be proud of that has seen achievements by the countrys filmmakers. But this is not the case.
And till now, one can easily estimate that the government has spent RM1 billion or more on this agency.
Unfortunately, because there are no qualified filmmakers and analyst in Malaysia the matter has been allowed to go on till now. In fact, Finas has been lucky because the matter had not been taken by the opposition in parliament or their public forums or ceramah.
I also write this with a heavy heart. What the government had wanted to achieve when they allowed the bill to be passed by parliament which saw Finas being formed, has not been met with any measure of success, anyway one looks at it.
How many more billions of ringgit does Finas expect the government to give them before something happens?
I do not foresee this happen in the future unless something drastic happens.
And what has Finas failed to achieve thus far?
Finas has failed to redevelop the film industry so that it could appear to be some sort of Cinema, The New Malaysian Cinema, whose real purpose is to promote New Malaysian Identity and the New Malaysian Unity, through this medium.
But because there is no one in Finas is qualified in film, and the public does not care, what has been happening with the allocation given to them, is for Finas to use the allocation and clout it has as an official government agency to simply prolong the influence of the Old Malayan Cinema that had died in 1967 when it was based in Singapore.
In other words, the huge allocation that Finas was given since 1981 was purely to promote NOSTALGIA from P. Ramlee to Jins Shamsuddin.
There was no basis for Finas to get on the ride of the achievements of the Old Malayan Cinema then whose films that the two studios, Shaw Brothers Malay Film Productions based in Jalan Ampas and Cathay-Keris Film Productions, at East Coast Road in Singapore had other ideas on film.
Finas should have caused the creation of the New Malaysian Cinema so that a new group of Malaysian filmmakers mostly trained abroad could spearhead its progress and chart its course.
Ironically, if they managed to do just a bit of this, surely, the old generation of filmmakers from the Old Malayan Cinema era could also benefit greatly.
In the end, the old generation of filmmakers did not benefit much from the existence of Finas; and the young generation failed to do their part, because Finas plans did not include them and their potentials.
By right Malaysia could have a more vibrant film industry known as the New Malaysian Cinema that produces films for local and also foreign audiences, which is compatible with the new heights that the country had managed to put itself on in the world arena and dealing with films that reflect the foreign policy initiatives that the leaders have shown temerity to embrace and support wholeheartedly.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of BebasNews.
Mansor is the only Ivy League-trained filmmaker of Malaysia who majored for his Masters of Fine Arts degree at ColumbiaUniversity in New York City. And he was a contemporary of former US President Barack Hussein Obama. His first feature, Seman: A Lost Hero created Malaysian film history for getting a nomination for best film in any film festival in Europe. He will be showing his works in Finland in January next year. He hopes to create an unusual world record in world cinema by producing a film called ‘Malaysian Snow’ that will be shot in 50 countries.)