Organizers have announced dates, venue and programmers for the inaugural edition of the Malaysia International Film Festival in early 2017.
The MIFF and accompanying awards ceremony are Malaysia’s third attempt in recent years to launch an international film festival.
MIFF will run from Feb. 24 to March 4, 2017 at the Nu Sentral Mall in downtown Kuala Lumpur. The Malaysia Golden Global Awards will be held March 5, 2017 at the Arena of Stars Genting Highlands, a casino resort some 90 minutes away by car.
The festival will feature a competition of 10 international films having their Malaysian premiere, as well as 20 other films that Malaysians would not be able to otherwise catch on the commercial circuit. It other stated objective is to boost the Malaysian tourism industry.
The festival is jointly presented by The Jazzy Group and the Malaysian Film Board (FINAS.) High profile support comes from Wen Tien Hsiang, organizer of the long-running Golden Horse festival and awards in Taiwan.
“There is a tremendous amount of beauty, truth and creativity in good films, regardless of their language, nationality or genre. (We hope to) spark a new Malaysian love affair with film. One that goes beyond CGI and superheroes and into the realm of human truths and real life stories, told in fresh and often completely unexpected ways,” said a Jazzy Group statement.
Programmers include Joanne Goh, Charlotte Lim, Ong Li Jin and Paolo Bertolin, who has advised numerous festivals including the Rome and Venice festivals.
Malaysia, which has enjoyed a booming box office in recent years, has struggled to consistently organize a credible international film festival. The Kuala Lumpur World Film Festival was held for one year only in 2003. It was succeeded by the Kuala Lumpur International Film Festival which was held in 2007 and 2008. Subsequent plans for a Malaysia International festival were announced and then dropped due to changed political and financial priorities.
The country’s domestic film festival and awards package, the Filem Festival Malaysia is longer running, but this year was knocked sideways by a decision – later reversed – to award film prizes along racial lines.