I dare say that the Kuala Lumpur International Film Festival (Kliff) is the most ridiculous film festival in the world. I have attended many international film festivals all over the world and I have not seen anything like this.
In short, by my standards, Kliff is a failure. It is not a festival to celebrate the art of the cinema but a social event that allows the male officers of the organisers of the festival and Finas to wear their tuxedos that they could never get to wear to the more prestigious international film festivals such as the Academy Awards or the Cannes Film Festival.
I want the authorities to stop this festival; it is a joke and a sheer waste of money which could be used for meaningful purposes.
At the same time, I want parliamentarians to bring up this issue and ask the culture, arts and heritage ministry why they agreed to support this festival knowing that those who organised it are not qualified to do so.
The festival has failed to bring local film-makers together and further allows those who are not qualified the unnecessary attention and respect that they do not deserve. And I dare the ‘festival director’ and senior Finas officials to debate with me on this in public.
It is the more shocking - if its true - that they have spent RM3 million to organise this festival. Three million ringgit! This is too much especially when one takes into account that it was held over three days. So, on the average, RM1 million was spent each day!
One could get a double-storey house with this amount. With the budget, they could easily buy fifteen such houses each year. Where in the world do people spend so much money to organise an international film festival that is basically a cultural and social event?
And why was a private company called Kliff Sdn Bhd given the opportunity to organise it? What experience did it have in organising a film festival before being allowed to organise the event?
I was not invited to attend Kliff 1 or 2, but managed to sneak into the latest one held from Nov 27-29 (excluding the opening night on Nov 26) because I was invited by the Film Directors Association of Malaysia.
And not surprisingly, Kliff turned out to be nothing but a cultural and social event. It is mostly social in nature where nothing academic is discussed, except for the forums where the turnout was scarce.
The business-matching session - for local producers and directors to meet with representatives of film companies from some foreign countries - failed since nothing substantial happened. There were just some informal discussions.
It is too bad that the festival was entrusted to the wrong people when we have other better qualified people who can do a better job in attracting the right crowd of film-makers from abroad.
Those who were invited to show their films at Kliff were relatively unknowns. Their films are still not marketed locally or shown in the cinemas.
And the two-day seminar was also conducted in such an amateurish manner with topics which were stale. There are many other more interesting topics that they could have got the participants or delegates buzzing but this could not happen because they had chosen to discuss wayang kulit instead.
As for the jury panel, most of them are not established internationally and were also on the lookout for awards themselves. So why does any film-maker need their recognition?
I found the awards night silly, with almost the same characters who were invited to appear on stage to perform, also giving out awards. Couldn’t they find other singers to perform other than Siti Nurhaliza, and Hans Isaac or Sarimah Ibrahim as the hosts?
Mumbai actress Mallika Sheerawat appeared on stage as a guest of the festival. Just who is she anyway?