LETTER

Global unity the New Muslim cinema way

Mansor Puteh

Published
Modified 16 Jan 2009, 6:43 am

I feel sorry for everybody, especially the Muslim leaders, for taking the same actions against the Zionists for their aggression in Gaza. The Zionists will repeat their atrocities and we will all do the same, demonstrating at Masjid Negara and in front of the US Embassy, raising more funds and nothing happens.

The boycotting of American products and services is a very short-term and a knee-jerk reaction which does not mean much. What are needed are long-term plans.

There is a need to create Islamic cinema or New Muslim cinema to promote Muslim unity without which there can never be any real economic development in the Muslim world.

For the long-term, maybe the Muslim world ought to consider coming up with all of those things which America and the West and even Japan, South Korea, China and Hong Kong are supplying us with now. In time, we can be self-sufficient.

The Muslim world is vast with a huge consumer base and this is where the strength of the Muslims lies. Unfortunately, Muslim consumer supremacy has never been utilised for the good of all Muslims.

Maybe this is the time for Muslim leaders and the OIC to seriously consider encouraging Muslim countries to produce the things that we need so that the Muslim world can have different growth centers etc, which will force the Muslims to acquire knowledge.

As someone with film-making background, I wish that the Muslim world can create its own Islamic cinema. The West is united because they have Hollywood. Yet, the Muslims, who are also large in numbers, do not have a cinema of our own.

Yes, we need to create Islamic cinema to promote better understanding between the entire Muslim world and the West, and world peace.

Perhaps the creation of New Muslim cinema is what we need. It can check the problems of the world, especially between the Muslim world and the West and promote a more equitable and peaceful world. It may be the only means that we have at our disposal that have not been fully utilised before.

It’s time we did something unusual and unorthodox even if it may be too farfetched to comprehend. The cinema may be our ultimate salvation for a world that had been so badly fractured, abused and neglected. There is light – even one that flickers at twenty-four frames per second!

May be the film-makers and the cinema can finally neutralise everything and reverse them. Or at least try to halt further escalation of the problems before they spread to more countries and also to make the political leaders realise their follies.

We do not have many things including a cinema that we can call our own. We also do not have much of a media organisation to serve our special needs without having to depend on those that had been existence all this while.

There is also a problem of ‘image deficit’ which is faced by Muslims and Islam. The kind of news we ‘make’ as reported by ‘them’ seem to be the kind that made us look helpless. Muslims are constantly portrayed as standing while looking lost in front of somebody else’s gun or tank.

As someone who is trained in film, I believe that New Muslim cinema will finally have a miraculous effect on the entire Muslim eorld and the West who will get to know us even better. And it is not going to be just a film industry which caters to the puerile tastes of the viewers, but one that has a mission.

It comes with a more profound purpose – to stabilise our senses to make them more attractive to the idea of promoting peace than to be agitated by the intense desire to be engaged in war.

It will also be the industry that is able to create creative, artistic and intellectual leaders amongst Muslims and non-Muslims - especially those who are also involved in its development and expansion- so they can become better recognised and influential for their intellect, creativity and ingenuity.

The center for New Muslim cinema can be in Malaysia – a non-Arab, Asian Muslim country which can help to shift all the paradigms and stand between the Middle East and the West. There are many other better reasons that can support such an establishment.

We can have this multi-billion-dollar film industry that can become the core industry of the entire Muslim world around which other industries such as banking, airlines, automobiles, travel, education and publication and so on, can further develop.

Hong Kong with a population of a mere six million produces 120 feature films each year for the world’s Chinese market. So, surely, we as a world of 1.5 billion people can come up with hundreds and possibly a thousand interesting feature films to share amongst ourselves and with others.

It’s too bad that the Islamic Development Bank – IDB - that was recently launched with a lot of fanfare in Kuala Lumpur is both weak and badly flawed. It has failed to include the need to create New Muslim cinema – a term I am introducing – as one of its main goals.

No film-maker has been consulted and asked to offer suggestions. Perhaps they think only politicians and economists can come up with all the brilliant ideas that serve the needs of the Muslim world.

But haven’t the politicians and the economists all tried before and failed? Perhaps all of the OIC leaders should know that the entire Muslim eorld is an incomplete entity because we do not have a cinema to call our own. We not only do not have film and television centres but we also do not have media, banking and other important centers that when connected, will ultimately create a semblance of our own world.

And because of this, there is no focus and the social, cultural, artistic and economic development of the Muslim World cannot be gauged and for the West to relate to. We only have some activities in some fields. And they are at different levels of development, neglect or disrepair.

And for as long as we do not have these centers, we will be fractured by our differences because the commonalities amongst ourselves are not taken full advantage of.

New Muslim cinema can be a major contributing factor to the growth of the economy of the Muslim World and beyond. It can be a major source of employment that can absorb many of the unemployed graduates that we have today since to have an important film industry, we need highly qualified people.

Our historians, too, have failed to highlight this matter. Don’t they know that the world film industry has been in existence for more than 112 years and how civilisations and cultures developed and expanded? What is America without Hollywood? America today will be much like Lesotho.

Once we have a vibrant and productive film industry that serves the need of the entire Muslim world, we can also recapture our television industry from having been taken away by outsiders who provide us with useless programmes promoting alien values that many of our young are accepting without questioning.

The cinema may be our only salvation to create a bridge that lasts between the Muslim world and the West for the long-term benefits for all – even if the light that it creates is one that flickers at twenty-four frames per second!

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