The National Film Development Corporation (FINAS) have decided that they’ve had enough with the lamentable quality of local films and is getting a bit more serious.
As of July next year, films which are below par will no longer qualify for skim wajib tayang (a compulsory two-week run in local cinemas afforded to local content).
Director-General of FINAS Datuk Kamil Othman stated that the decision will urge and encourage film directors and producers to put in more effort into their work in order to come up with better-quality films and hopefully improve the Malaysian film industry.
Among supporters of the move include Komuniti Filem Titiwangsa (KOMFIT), a collective of industry professionals such as producer Nandita Solomon and director Dain Said. The group however brought up a number of concerns to do with the guidelines employed in the process as well as the credibility of FINAS’s evaluation panel.
As of now, there isn’t a proper guideline. The eligibility of films for skim wajib tayang will be determined by a panel consisting of academics, journalist, NGOs and cinephiles.
According to Rakyat Post, Kamil stated that if the film is not of acceptable quality, producers can opt for other ways to distribute their works.
“If the film still fails to get the green light, movie producers can then work with film distributors on their own, sell the rights to television stations, or reproduce it in the form of VCDs, DVDs or Blu-Ray discs,” says Kamil.
Kamil later explained that since 1991, films produced locally have been admitted into the compulsory screening scheme without any evaluation prior.
We don’t know what’s more upsetting from this revelation: the fact that in 24 years nobody in FINAS saw evaluation as a necessary process, or the fact that Kamil’s two-year term expires at the end of next year and God knows how long until someone comes along and ruins it.
The decision to establish a second panel came about after it was discovered that 67% of local films under the scheme in 2013 did not meet FINAS’s target.
It was also mentioned that low-quality films couldn’t sustain an audience for more than two to three days in cinemas, which explains some of the figures you would see in the FINAS box office collection page (which once upon a time used to showcase production budgets too).
It all sounds like good news, until there was talk that the licencing fee for filmmaking will be reviewed, and is expected to increase by 40% within the first quarter of next year. Wait… what?
Anyhow, we do wish FINAS well with everything and hope to see a bigger proportion of great films in cinemas again.