Film & TV News

Industry bursts into support for FINAS and Kamil Othman after GAFIM’s major gaffe

LAST Friday at TanyaFINAS 2.0, many waited with baited breath to hear Dato Kamil Othman‘s response to Gabungan Persatuan Karyawan Filem Malaysia (GAFIM)‘s allegations. Arriving at the Content Malaysia Pitching Centre hours after touching down from Los Angeles, the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS) director-general began the session by addressing audiences with an honest, candid speech.

I was in transit in Hong Kong, and the moment I got WiFi I received about 500 messages.

— Dato Kamil Othman

Following his keynote in which he addressed GAFIM’s complaints, members of the film industry who were present erupted into strong support for Kamil.

Industry veteran Dean Lau for instance took to the mic to call on attendees to sign a petition expressing their solidarity with Kamil, while Sabahan filmmaker Nadira Ilana recalled how Kamil and FINAS jumped to the rescue when she was in dire need for help working on the first Malaysian installment of Big Stories Small Towns.

But dissenters were present too, as in the case of Persatuan Penerbit Televisyen Malaysia (PTVM) Vice President, Richard Ang.

Sitting beside the microphone stand, Richard at one point nonchalantly grabbed the mic to speak out of turn and voice his support for GAFIM President Dato Jurey Latiff. Despite observing the protocol at TanyaFINAS sessions, Richard cut queue twice to air his negative opinions, upsetting other attendees present.

Here’s a collection of quotes from the most memorable TanyaFINAS to date.

On GAFIM’s letter to the Communications and Multimedia Ministry…

Whether or not [GAFIM’s] complaint was valid, it was only fair to ask all associations under it if they agreed. So we sent the letter to all eleven associations under GAFIM, and it was the last thing I did before I left for the US.

On GAFIM’s state following reveal of the letter…

Five to six associations wanted to or have already left GAFIM. This has more to do with associations not being consulted when it comes to letters like this.

On FINAS’s stance towards detractors and critics…

We have platforms like [TanyaFINAS], we have opened our doors so you can tell us where we go wrong. The new FINAS is supposed to be open, we accept criticism without any problems. At the same time the only constraint is that I’ve only been here one and a half years. I’m not here to seek sympathy or whatever, I would like to see a unified situation and devote FINAS’s time to do the things we should be doing.

On FINAS’s response towards GAFIM’s surprise move…

There’s a personality war here. It shouldn’t be on a personal level and its not up to us to respond on a personal level because nothing is personal here.

On the abuse of skim wajib tayang…

81 films last year went through skim wajib tayang and I bet you can’t event remember ten. Our films are supposed to make money as this is a business. This is already a heavily subsidized industry, and this makes others who are not in the profession want to come in and try to make money off the industry. You’re supposed to get into skim wajib tayang because you have got a good product and want to give it a chance.

On criticism that Kamil is running FINAS like a business…

So what? FINAS must become a business, if we cannot think like businessmen then all the millions of ringgit we are giving out will go down the wrong avenues. Millionaires should come out of this industry, but how many millionaires do you see in this room?

On FINAS when Kamil first got into office…

FINAS has been in existence since 1981 and we are all still doing the same things we are expected to do. One of the first thing I tried to overcome was the notion that “it’s so difficult to meet the people in FINAS”. In other words, I found that despite being a film development agency, not everyone in FINAS are interested in films. One of the major changes is to make everyone in there interested in films. We are the National Film Development Corporation.

On potential opposition from within FINAS…

Duri dalam daging, musuh dalam duvet… There are just as many people in FINAS who do not want things to change. Don’t forget, FINAS may be a statutory body but its also a government agency, tied to a ministry.

On the film industry over the past 18 months…

A year and a half has passed and what do we see: some associations which believe things should move in a really archaic way, some which prefer progressiveness, but most important of all we see the younger generation coming in.

On Kamil’s soon-to-end term at FINAS…

Central bank governors have a term of five years, while FINAS Director-Generals are given two years. Usually, if I know I’m leaving in December without any chance of extension, I would be slowing down by now. Right now however we have to intensify our efforts in the hope that whoever’s replacing me can continue carrying them out.

On the Filming In Malaysia Incentive (FIMI)

Thailand is afraid of having a cash incentive without a limit. When Marco Polo did their production here, they were given a cash rebate of over RM70,000,000. We recently had meetings to decide that the sky is not the limit when it comes to cash rebates and incentives. We’re moving towards a point system where using Malaysian crew and Malaysian stories results in bigger incentives.

On creating new avenues for investment in film…

We’re proposing tax relief for an individual or corporation interested in investing in film. If we see your script and we like it and you pass the “cultural test” and it’s agreed yours could be a good movie, we will give you a tax certificate so that any individual or corporation can invest in your movie and get the sum deducted from their taxes. But this is not original, we stole it from Australia.

On getting the local film industry noticed…

As far as the government is concerned filmmaking is at low priority. We just need to wait for one more film to explode.

Following TanyaFINAS 2.0, industry practitioners took to social media to express their approval of Kamil.

On Sunday afternoon, actors, directors and writers used the hashtag #KamiSokongKamil to plead for an extension for Kamil’s term in FINAS. Coupled with the hashtag #TakdoJureyAntaroKito, the campaign, which began at 4:00pm, trended within an hour.

Aside from significant contributors to the film industry such as Nam Ron, Susan Lankester, Beto Kusyairi, Sharifah Amani and Sofia Jane, actor Afdlin Shauki posted a particularly heartfelt tribute on Instagram detailing Kamil’s humble beginnings.

Due to the intensified industry attention on the issue, major media portals are finally picking up the news, including Astro Awani, Malaysiakini and the Malaysian Digest.

As of Monday, a picture of Kamil and Jurey shaking hands were circulating on social media, suggesting that the latter has decided to bury the hatchet. Both will address the press tomorrow at the Content Malaysia Pitching Centre in a conference featuring both FINAS and GAFIM.

For more updates on this topic, make sure to check out the hashtags #tanyafinas, #kamisokongkamil and #takdojureyantarokito. Featured image via FINAS.

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