Still room to grow for Malaysian film industry

By Jude Toyat


LOCAL FILMMAKERS SHOULD PUT more effort into strengthening the commercial value of their films to compete with the international market, said president of the Malaysia Film Producers Association (PFM) Datuk Yusof Haslam.

“It is crucial for us to further strengthen the commercial value of our films and should not depend solely on art films.

“We want films that can garner success in the foreign market, and for me that is what we are lacking of right now,” he said when met during the ASEAN International Film Festival and Awards (AIFFA2015) held in Kuching recently.

He added that for every 10 movies made, only two or three films would make commercial success. “Commercial movies are more difficult to make compared to art movies. However, to survive in this industry, filmmakers must make more commercial movies.”


Datuk Yusof Haslam

Datuk Yusof Haslam


Attending AIFFA for the first time, he commended the event for its role in advancing  relationships in the region’s film industry. “AIFFA is a very good effort because it can foster a closer relationship between ASEAN countries and at the same time we can gather all the artists under one roof every two years here in Kuching.

“At the same time, it can also give an impact on the state as well as the country since this helps to improve the relationship between us and other ASEAN countries especially in the filmmaking industry,” he added.

As for the new wave of Malaysian filmmakers, he advised them to always keep up with the digital world and utilize available technologies well.

“Today in this technological world, everybody can basically make movie, either with a small or big budget. But what we need today is quality, no matter what genre of films the filmmakers are making on the budget they are working with, the movie must have quality, without it, the audience will be frustrated,” he added.

Currently the prolific film producer, scriptwriter and actor is working with sons Syamsul  on new Islamic horror film ‘Munafik’ and Syafiq on his fourth directorial project ‘Desolasi’.

“These two films will be released probably by next year.”


Hans Isaac

Hans Isaac


Meanwhile, for Malaysian actor, producer and director Hans Isaac, local filmmakers need to consider producing films that can front the local film industry and go the extra mile by incorporating cast from outside of Malaysia into one film.

“In Malaysia, we have films that are of good, mid-range, and not good films. To make a good film, local filmmakers need to incorporate foreign actors and actresses rather than having all Malaysian cast in a film,” he said.

Hans hoped that the local filmmaking industry could grow stronger every day and opined that filmmakers needed to pump up efforts in generating income for their films so they can keep on doing what they do best.

“Reality check: most of the local filmmakers here in Malaysia will quit after they have failed to produce a good movie, and turn to making short films instead. It is important to continue making good films to avoid a short lifespan in the local film industry,” he said.

He also explained that it was important to make movies in different languages to capture a wider audience.

“It is not to say that Bahasa is not the right language. However, filmmakers need to make movies in English so people can understand the movie and bring impact to those who will be watching it. English is a universal language and filmmakers need to understand that as well.

“Chinese movies for example, travel further than Malay movies. This is because of the language. Considering the huge population of Chinese people here in Malaysia, the films helps to penetrate their interest and also those of Chinese-speaking community,” he said adding that only about 200,000 people in Malaysia really enjoy watching Malay films compared to more than a million who watch Chinese films.

Being here in Kuching for AIFFA for the second time, Hans said that the festival was bigger and stronger compared to the first AIFFA in 2013. “It is more overwhelming too as I managed to meet up with friends from Singapore and the Philippines this time. Congratulations to the organising team of AIFFA for making this a success.”

Currently, Hans is promoting his new film ‘Nota’, a psychological thriller film directed by Japanese scriptwriter and film director Yasu Tanaka that was filmed in Sarawak. Its first theatrical release will be this August.

Although not her first time in Kuching, this does happen to be actress Sharifah Amani’s first time attending AIFFA. For the young but seasoned actress from such movie gems like the late Yasmin Ahmad’s Orked trilogy, she says that the local filmmaking industry is seeing exciting progress.


Sharifah Amani

Sharifah Amani


“Today, we have lots of different genres of movies with different people making films. I am also proud to acknowledge that some of our films went abroad, including ‘Terbaik Dari Langit’ that made its world premiere during the 27th Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) last year,” said Sharifah Amani, who plays Sara in ‘Terbaik Dari Langit’.

‘Terbaik Dari Langit’, a film directed by Nik Amir Mustapha won the coveted award for Best Film during the star-studded AIFFA gala night held at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) on April 11. The film’s main actor Bront Palarae, also won the Best Actor award at the ceremony.

“I hope that the younger generation of local filmmakers today can be more active by pushing the barriers and doing more important and impactful films,” she added. “It is also hoped that we will have an education system which teaches them to understand more on our cultures and tradition that is considered to be our strength and cultivate it into their films.”

Her advice to aspiring filmmakers is to always stay true to their vision.

“Have great confidence in yourself and strong faith in your talent and ability and never stop searching for your unique voice, styles and expressions in filmmaking. It is also very important to have good networking in the business of filmmaking and that is why, I believe, thanks to AIFFA that can be made possible here.”

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