High Benchmark Set for Film Festival

Kota Kinabalu: The Kota Kinabalu International Film Festival (KKIFF) Buzz10 Filmmakers’ Competition has set a high benchmark with its outstanding entries this year.

Hassan Muthalib who has been judging the competition since six years ago said he witnessed a progress in the quality of entries for the competition’s eighth edition.

“When I first started judging the competition, I can see some of the films are good but at the same time, there are quite a few which were not up to the standard.

“And now, I saw entries which are very personal… they go very deep into their subjects.

“They films are also cinematic… the makers have used the language of film well in their films,” he said after the KKIFF 2017 Awards Night at the Black Box, here, on Sunday.

He added almost 90 per cent of the entries this year have shown professional work compared to the previous ones.

“Usually when we are sitting in the judges’ seats, we will be cringing at certain films which should have never entered the competition … but in Buzz10, we only find a minimal number of films which are not really up to the mark.”

The self-taught artist-animator-film director-writer has been involved in the Malaysian film industry for 52 years.

His creative works have won numerous awards and currently he is a film critic and writer where conduct researches and writings on the Malaysian cinema. He had also written two books – Malaysian Cinema in a Bottle in 2013 and From Mousedeer to Mouse: 70 Years of Malaysian Animation (2016).

Al Jafree Md Yusop, the other judge for the Buzz10 Filmmakers’ Competition said he was surprised by the entries and had a difficult time judging them.

“The entries were amazing… the films put hope back in the Malaysian film industry,” said Jafree.

Hassan said the Sabah Film Academy (SFA) – the mentorship programme under KKIFF had contributed much in the improved quality of the entries.

“In SFA, there are mentors who guide the participants and these participants were also among those who have entered the filmmakers’ competition.

“I was also told that the comments which the judges, including me, had given on the works in previous years had helped this year’s participants to understand the do’s and dont’s on the technical and creative side of filmmaking.

“I think what KKIFF has done is that it produces filmmakers who think, instead of filmmakers who would go out and shoot… these filmmakers put much attention to their subjects and the art of filmmaking.

“I think this would go a long way in creating good storytellers in Sabah.”

According to him, good filmmakers should go beyond the technicality of making films.

“They should read a lot, watch other people’s films, mix with those who are smarter than them and they need to travel a lot.

“If they can do these things, we can expect to see the production of great works which can reach international-level standards.”

As the standard of competition is high this year, Hassan said it will motivate and inspire the next wave of filmmakers to reach for greater heights.

“Festivals such as KKIFF are very important and I hope they will get some support from the government as well as from the Kuala Lumpur side.

“These festivals need funding and it is important for KKIFF to be expanded so that it can bring more foreign filmmakers who can interact with the local culture,” he said.

Meanwhile, more than 40 films from Malaysia and Asean countries took part in the Buzz10 Filmmakers’ Competition to vie for the Golden Kinabalu Awards in three categories – narrative, documentary and indigenous language.

In the narrative category, Si Tommy by Kubendra M.S. Mahadevan from Malaysia won while When Our Gardens Grow Silent by Mzung from Vietnam came out on top in the documentary category.

The indigenous language category was won by Kwan Thung Seng from Sabah for the film Hello Pirit.

During the event, films produced by the SFA participants were also screened.

Prizes were presented by Sabah Tourism Board (STB) Chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, Kadazandusun Language Foundation Chief Executive Officer Rita Lasimbang, Society of Performing Arts Kota Kinabalu (SPArKS) President Roger Wang and KKIFF Director Jude Day. – Ricardo Unto

Source: Daily Express