IT has been some exciting 24 months for the local film industry. Under the guidance of former DJ and MDEC-transferee Kamil Othman, Malaysian film development authority FINAS has been increasingly functional. In fact, we’ve had quality, commercial appeal and collaborations between different stakeholders in local and international cinema.
It could potentially get much better from here on. But we also know Kamil’s term as ketua pengarah at FINAS is coming to an end next month — it will soon be two years since his appointment in November 2014. We refuse to accept protocol for the sake of protocol: we want Kamil to stay so we may see the results of his realignments within the industry.
To help strengthen our case, we present to you five reasons Kamil Othman should stay on as director-general of FINAS.
1. Malaysian films, not ____-language films
Kamil is Malaysian. He cares for your work as a filmmaker, not your lineage. As director-general of FINAS, Kamil has gone on to support a diverse range of Malaysian projects, amplifying the voices of minorities and those sidelined as a result of the National Cultural Policy (NCP). When local cinemas tried to rid themselves off Shanjhey Kumar Perumal‘s Jagat, FINAS stepped in to ensure people could access the movie. Jagat went on to screen for 10 weeks in selected venues. Most importantly, it also took home Filem Terbaik at Festival Filem Malaysia (FFM). This is a milestone — after 36 years, our national film awards ceremony is finally ready to open its Filem Terbaik category to the rest of Malaysia. Meanwhile, East Malaysian projects FINAS has aided during his term include Festival Filem Malaysia-winner Nota and landmark storytelling project Big Stories Bongkud-Namaus. Noting the necessity of developing an industry in the other 60.3% of Malaysia, Kamil has also expressed support for Sabah-based film screening initiative Cinebah.
Remember Jurey Latiff Rosli, president of GAFIM? The guy who sent a letter to Communications Minister Salleh Said Keruak claiming that Kamil was leading FINAS to ruin? The social media furore that followed put Jurey back in his place and exposed the politics underlying Malaysia’s film industry. Fascinatingly, it also provoked a rare display of solidarity for a Malaysian civil servant. Using the social media hashtag #KamiSokongKamil, stakeholders in Malaysian cinema — we’re talking the likes of Nam Ron, Susan Lankester, Bront Palarae, Sharifah Amani, Zahiril Adzim, Vanidah Imran, Tengku Iesta and Afdlin Shauki — went on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to express their support for Kamil. #KamiSokongKamil even managed to trend at one point, elevating it to public attention. Now tell us, which FINAS director-general has ever gotten that much love?
3. He is literally everywhere
The Daily Seni bumps into Kamil in public so many times, we swear he has a body double. We know Kamil is director-general of FINAS, but we didn’t expect him to show up at so many film-related events. Kamil was there to catch Malaysian-Indonesian co-production My Stupid Boss. Kamil was also there for the premiere of local Oscar submission Redha, long before it began qualifying for awards. Even when we were in Japan for a meet and greet with Filipino auteur Brillante Mendoza, we somehow managed to catch Kamil, twice! Perhaps resulting from his genuine enthusiasm in film, Kamil was recently reelected by the Asian Film Commissions Network (AFCNet) as Vice President for the second consecutive term. Yes, even Busan is keeping hold onto Kamil; let’s not make the embarrassing mistake of letting this one fly off.
4. Is there really a two-year term limit?
Regardless of what has been said about FINAS’s two-year terms for director-generals, let’s not forget that former FINAS director-general the late Mohd Shariff Ahmad held the position for ten years. Shariff led FINAS from 1995 to 2005 and then became CEO of the Creative Content Industries Association (CCIG) from 2012 to 2014. But there is one other director-general who lasted longer than a single term: Mahyidin Mustakim, current CEO of the Creative Content Association Malaysia (CCAM) was director-general from 2006 to 2011. It seems to us that the two-year term limit is about as concrete as the “films should be 70% in the Malay language” rule Festival Filem Malaysia tried to tout repeatedly. Now are you beginning to see why there are no reasons to drop Kamil just yet?
5. Kamil should be allowed to finish what he started
Face it. Two years is a very short time to get anything done on a national level, especially in a film industry like ours. Kamil has struck up a number of initiatives during his time which should be maintained under his supervision. Why let someone else come on board and steer Kamil’s hand-built ship out of this mess? We don’t want someone new coming in and changing skim wajib tayang back to how it used to be. From co-production treaties to establishing a dedicated cinematheque in FINAS’s Content Malaysia Pitching Centre, Kamil’s judgement as director-general inspires confidence in the civil service. Which government entity has ever thought of something that puts their boss on the spot like TanyaFINAS? Bear in mind that TanyaFINAS also used to be called TanyaKP, which further verifies Kamil’s authority and intent.
Express your support for Kamil Othman by using the hashtag #KamiSokongKamil on social media, make your voice count and make some noise! In the meantime, follow FINAS and don’t forget to post on their timeline too if you have any concerns! Featured image sourced from Kr8tifexpress.