10 Julai 2008

Who are the film experts in Finas?

by Mansor Puteh

From what I have noticed from my personal experience attending them, such functions organised by Finas and Gafim are not well-attended, as at the launching of Hari Seniman on May 29 where many tables were empty during lunch.

The newspaper editors may be too young to realise this. Maybe their entertainment writers are too eager to win awards - any award – that they have not realised that they may have been bribed by Finas and Gafim.

And why must Finas and Gafim give awards to entertainment writers in the first place? And they hold functions at expensive places and spend hundreds of thousands of ringgit, at a time like this, when in the beginning Finas only had these functions at their premises.

And why can't these be held during the Malaysian Film Festival as a side event, to save costs, so those who had won awards can speak in special forums so that there is focus.

From what I have noticed from my personal experience attending them, such functions organised by Finas and Gafim are not well-attended, as at the launching of Hari Seniman on May 29 where many tables were empty during lunch.

There is no need for Gafim and Finas to offer such awards; they can be given by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) who are supposed to be independent and who can offer better recognition to entertainment writers especially those who are brave to write critically on Finas and Gafim if the latter two neglect their duties.

When A Samad Ismail was editor-in-chief of the New Straits Times, the paper wrote some articles featuring a young Malay film-maker who talked on Finas.

It did not please the senior Finas officials, namely its chairman and director-general then. And Samad asked them to counter the statements so that he could publish them but they were too scared to do it.

Then Finas devised an ingenious idea to solve this problem of how not to get criticisms from the press.

They introduced the Samad Awards and Zain Hamzah Awards to give 'due recognition' to entertainment journalists for writing excellent pieces on the film industry. And immediately, the press stopped writing critically and intelligently about Finas and their relevant ministry and their senior officials.

Anyone who writes about Finas and the ministry to offer intelligent views and comments won't win these awards.

And as you can see, the press has not written anything on Finas and the ministry ever since, despite Finas having done many things that must be discussed by the public, especially the post-production studio that is being constructed in Finas at a cost of around RM60 million in public funds.

Their sound studio which they tout as the largest in Southeast Asia has failed to serve its purpose as it is too expensive for any film company to rent. It is mostly rented by television stations and production houses to produce advertisements.

And isn't there abuse of power when senior Finas officials used their names for the awards while serving Finas?

How come there is not one Finas official who has a master's degree in film despite it having been in existence since 1980? Never mind a doctorate holder. Why can't they send some of their officials to study film even at Aswara first before sending them abroad?

Finas should put out a list of those who had studied film at prestigious universities and film schools abroad so we know just how many of them we have now, and action can be taken to ensure that they can serve to develop the local industry.

Yet, the ministry set up Aswara at huge cost in order to develop human capital. How ironic that they are not able to capitalise on the the human capital that we already have from amongst those who had studied abroad. Yet, they still want to create another group of film-makers locally?

Who are the best-trained Malaysians in film that the local industry can benefit from? Finas does not want to know this because they want to assume that they are the best-qualified persons in the industry. Yet, when such persons are no more with Finas, they will never talk about film anywhere in the country.

And why are film school graduates not given special grants to produce films like how those who are good in sports are given the support to train abroad and take part in international sports meets despite losing and losing?

Finas gave a British actor RM140,000 to conduct a week-long screen writing workshop which was attended by 17 persons only, calling it a `Master Class'. Yet, none of the 16 who attended the workshop could be considered to be excellent screen writers.

And now Finas is inviting another person from England to conduct an acting workshop, by offering the same fee to him and other expenses just like his counterpart.

These two workshops could have been conducted by local screen writing and acting experts, so there is no need for Finas to bring in those from abroad whose reputation is suspect.

Who are the film experts in Finas and the ministry?

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