Today we take a look at the Best Screenplay nominees at the 27th Malaysia Film Festival (FFM27)! The awards ceremony, due on the 5th of September, will see top honours in the film industry handed out to several filmmakers and actors, and we’re here to examine which film is deserving of the Best Screenplay award.
We’re happy that the nominated films are of different genres with decent storylines although we feel that Raja Mukhriz’s Ophillia was snubbed for this category (a film which we think has a better-written, more realistic and poignant theme of friendship and struggles).
Before we begin, we have some useful information courtesy of the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS). The checklist for choosing a recipient for the award involves a few simple questions: What are the quality and value of the story; are the messages conveyed of good nature; is the story interesting and effective in translating on-screen? Is the story original and captivating? What is the purpose of the film? Does the film manage to achieve its objectives?
Amir & Loqman Pergi ke Laut by Mamat Khalid
This film is supposed to be a parody of Malay gangsters but we guess it didn’t turn out too well. Half of the time our reviewer did not know what was going on in the film. All we could gather was that Amir and Loqman are best friends who dream of opening a café by the ocean. But one thing is holding them back. They are tied to a kongsi gelap and they need RM30,000 to bail themselves out.
However, being incompetents, Amir and Loqman always fail at robberies. Meanwhile, their kongsi gelap is in a feud with another gang. Killings start happening suddenly and everybody dies. What did we just watch?
Yes, we enjoyed watching Amir and Loqman going through a series of unfortunate circumstances in escaping and eventually succeeding but really, Ophillia should have been nominated rather than this film.
Dollah Superstar by Alfie Palermo & Kabir Bhatia
Dollah (Awie) is a veteran gangster who daydreams of becoming a famous actor. He gets his break when actor Shah Dazzle (Sharnaaz Ahmad) asks Dollah to mentor him in an action film called, Gangster Melayu Terakhir.
This film is a truly pleasant surprise. We really enjoyed how much fun it all was, and what we love most about this film is that it is written with a specific direction. We get to see Dollah’s transformation from selfish bully to hero, and his change of heart happens through his unexpected newfound friendship with Shah Dazzle. Dollah Superstar taught us that it’s never too late to turn a new leaf, but the film does so in a very uncanny way and this pretty much checks all the boxes in our judging criteria.
Oh, and did we mention how much we giggled whenever the film pokes fun at producers who delay payment to crew members? Or when the movie takes potshots at gangster films never reflecting actual gangsters? It’s safe to say that this parody worked.
Manisnya Cinta Di Cappadocia by Rafidah Abdullah
Since this film is already such a drag, we’ll keep this short and simple. Why is the character of Nazmi (Shaheizy Sam) written like a stalker? Why is he always appearing out of nowhere around Ifti (Nur Fazura)? Why does Ifti not freak out but falls in love instead? Why does Nazmi have a brother that looks exactly like him? What is going on? Stop this film, please, and replace it with The Journey; then perhaps we will have nicer things to say.
Lelaki Harapan Dunia by Liew Seng Tat
One word: BRILLIANT. At long last, a film with social commentary. Lelaki Harapan Dunia contains plenty of double entendres which address our community on the whole, like how gullible we are and how easily we jump on the bandwagon.
This film has not only travelled to many notable film festivals such as the Busan International Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival, but has also caused controversy for apparently insulting the Malay community which led to a Film Censorship Board (LPF) scare. Due to some comments from certain sectors of the film community, there was much talk on re-evaluating the film for a public release but thankfully this didn’t happen.
The film opens with Pak Awang (Wan Hanafi Su) searching for an abandoned house in the jungle with the help of some villagers. Together, they carry the house from the jungle and into the village so Pak Awang could refurbish it in time for his daughter’s wedding. However, superstitions get the better of the villagers when a dark figure is spotted lurking within the abandoned house and rumours start going around that there is an Orang Minyak in the village.
Lelaki Harapan Dunia made us reflect on the society we live in and it also came with a great message to never compromise peace and unity because of trivial matters, thus making this film a jewel.
Terbaik Dari Langit by Redza Minhat
Let’s be honest. While this film is beautifully crafted visually, storytelling is not its strongest point. It tells the story of four friends, Berg (Bront Palarae), Ijam (Iedil Putra), Toyu (Amerul Affendi), and Ali (Megat Sharizal) reunited to fulfil Berg’s wish to shoot a low-budget experimental sci-fi film about a UFO he encountered 15 years ago.
Although Terbaik Dari Langit manages to touch on the importance of forging meaningful friendships, chasing your dreams and staying true to yourself, there were too many filler moments in the film. One example is the scene in which its characters all main hujan and terjun ke dalam laut. Yes, it’s supposed to evoke the feeling of freedom, of spending good time with friends, and of letting go of life’s worries. Unfortunately, these scenes don’t push the story forward. At times, the fillers felt extremely exasperating to sit through.
Thus, the lack of content − despite its good intentions − of Terbaik Dari Langit makes it a poor contender compared to Lelaki Harapan Dunia and Dollah Superstar.
The Daily Seni’s Choice
Need us say more? It’s hands down without a doubt Lelaki Harapan Dunia for its bold and brilliant take on Malaysian society. What local viewers really need is a film that addresses communal psychology and societal issues rather than stories about hantu, rempit, gangster, and cinta segi tak habis-habis. More films like Lelaki Harapan Dunia please, filmmakers!