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Malaysian Movies That Almost Made It To The Oscars

These films prove that we have the skills and resources to make great movies that deserve the world's attention.

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Malaysian Movies That Almost Made It To The Oscars
Image: The Hollywood Reporter
If you're a big fan of entertainment, you know that the awards season is in the air.

At the beginning of every year, the entertainment industry and movie buffs from around the globe would turn their eyes upon the Academy Awards.

You should know this by now, but the Academy Awards a.k.a. the Oscars is one of the most celebrated awards to honour excellence in film.

A total of 24 awards are given out every year by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) as selected by the Academy's voting committee, including Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Directing and more.

The winners would each receive a golden statuette that is probably the most popular trophy in the world today.

Wonder where do the winners keep their shiny little golden men.
But contrary to popular belief, the Academy Awards does not only acknowledge achievements in Hollywood. There is one particular category that more than a hundred countries around the world attempt to bag - the award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Although AMPAS is based in the United States, the Academy gives out this award in honour of feature-length motion pictures that are mainly non-English speaking and produced outside America.

However, instead of awarding an individual like the other Academy awards, the Best Foreign Language Film award is presented to the winning director and considers the country of origin the winner as a whole.

So far, the foreign country that has received the most awards is Italy with 14 wins, 31 nominations and 3 Special Awards. The next foreign country is France with 12 wins and 39 nominations, the most out of all the countries.

Having said all that, did you know that Malaysia has submitted our own movies to compete for the Best Foreign Language Film award before? We've sent four films in total!

The National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS) decided to send Malaysian-made movies for consideration since 2004 and here they are.
 

#1 Puteri Gunung Ledang (2004)

The fantasy film was the first Malaysian movie submitted to the 77th Academy Awards. Starring Tiara Jacquelina and M. Nasir, Puteri Gunung Ledang tells the tale of forbidden love between a princess from the Majapahit Kingdom, Gustri Putri and a Malaccan warrior, Hang Tuah.

'Puteri Gunung Ledang' has also been adapted into a musical theatre production.
This piece was also the first big budget local movie that cost USD4 million (RM15.5 million) to produce! The amount of resources and investment were reflected in the movie's high quality screenplay, music, production design and directing by Saw Teong Hin.

Awards Won Outside The Academy Awards: 2004 Malaysia Film Festival (Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Music Score), 50th Asia Pacific Film Festival (Best Actress - Tiara Jacquelina), the inaugural Asian Festival of First Films (Best Producer - Tiara Jacquelina).

#2 Bunohan (2012)

With the international title Bunohan: Return to Murder, this is a drama thriller about a turmoil of murder, passion and haunting memories between three estranged brother and their sick father.

The heartwrenching tale was one that continue to stay in the hearts of many Malaysians.
Written and directed by Dain Iskandar Said, the movie premiered at the 2011 Toronton Film Festival and received high praise for its excellent storytelling and cinematography. He spent two years writing the story inspired by his childhood growing up in a kampung.

Bunohan was submitted for the 85th Academy Awards.

Awards Won Outside The Academy Awards: Kuala Lumpur Film Critics Society Awards 2012 (Best Supporting Actor - Hushairy Hussein, Best Actor - Faizal Hussein, Best Director), Anugerah Skrin 2012 (Best Screenplay, Best Film), 25th Malaysia Film Festival (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor - Faizal Hussein, Best Screenplay, Best Story, Best Original Score, Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing).

#3 Lelaki Harapan Dunia (2015)

This comedy film is set in a village where the villagers came together to help a widower transport a wedding gift he wanted to present to his daughter, which turns out to be an abandoned home he found in the jungle.

This movie shows what it is like to be part of a village community in Malaysia.
Weaving in the mentality, superstitions and simplicity of people living in the kampung, Liew Seng Tat wrote and directed the film that leaves behind a heartwarming and thoughtful taste.

Submitted for the 88th Academy Awards, Lelaki Harapan Dunia had a special international collaboration between Malaysia and and Volya Films (The Netherlands), Flying Moon Filmproduktion (Germany) as well as Mandra Films (France).

The film also had its world premiere at the 67th Locarno International Film Festival and 39th Toronto International Film Festival before it was finally released in Malaysian theatres, proving its critical success internationally.

Awards Won Outside The Academy Awards: Kuala Lumpur Film Critics Society Awards 2015 (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor - Wan Hanafi Su, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematograhy), 27th Malaysian Film Festival (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Story, Best Sound Editing, Best Child Actor - Raykarl Iskandar).
 

#4 Redha (2016)

Redha or Beautiful Pain talks about a husband and wife whose world comes crashing down when their only son is diagnosed with austism, a condition they can barely comprehend.

This film gives you all the feels in the world.
This was director Tunku Mona Riza's first theatrical feature after having worked on several telemovies before. She was able to capture the exceptional performance of eight-year-old Harith Haziq who played Danial the son.

One of the most crucial aspects of Redha was its ability to share knowledge and awareness about autism that was straightforward yet effective, which is seldom seen in Malaysian films. Parts of the movie were also filmed within the National Autism Society of Malaysia premises for additional emphasis and accuracy.

The film became the last one that was submitted for the 89th Academy Awards so far.

Awards Won Outside The Academy Awards: World Premiere Film Festival 2016 (Best Actress, Special Jury Award), Los Angeles Awareness Film Festival 2016 (Merit Award), 12th Kazan International Muslim Film Festival 2016 (Best Actor in a Full Length Feature Film - Nam Ron, Harith Haziq and Izzy Reef).

Despite having sent a handful of Malaysian-made movies to the Oscars, none of them have made it to the final nominations. 

The nominations for the 90th Academy Awards were announced earlier this week but we haven't gotten news about any submissions from Malaysia this time round. The countries that made it to the final five in the Best Foreign Language Film category are Chile, Lebanon, Russia, Hungary and Sweden.

Nevertheless, this doesn't mean that we should give up! Our past submissions just prove that we do have the skills and resources to produce films that are worthy to stand on the world stage.

But as the saying goes, charity begins at home. So let's start pouring more support into our local films and productions, and we will hopefully make it to the Academy Awards one day.

In your opinion, what are some local movies you think should be submitted for an Oscar consideration?
 
 
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