Kuala Lumpur aims to be ‘another Cannes’

November 11th, 2008 - 2:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, Nov 11 (IANS) The Malaysian capital, which is set to host the KL International Film Festival (KLIFF) Nov 26-29, aims to be “another Cannes” as a movie industry hub, says the film fest chief. “We have a long-term goal, that is, to create another Cannes. Yes, we want to put Malaysia on the world map as a hub of the film industry,” KLIFF Director Wafa Abdul Kadir told The New Straits Times Tuesday.

Forty eight films have been selected for free screening and will compete for awards at KLIFF’s second edition.

More than 40 countries submitted 121 entries last year and although there are only 38 countries taking part this year, she pointed out, the entries have risen to 191.

With the theme “Celebrating Cultural Diversity”, the four-day event will comprise the Welcome Night, a two-day ‘Business Matching and Symposium’ and will end with the awards night.

“Just imagine, for years we have been trying to penetrate the world market but with very little success. Instead of knocking on their doors, I thought why not open ours, invite them in and show them what we have. In fact, when the film delegates came to our shores last year, they were surprised at what Malaysia has to offer,” Wafa said.

She added: “When we had the Awards Night on the final night, some locals thought that it was a bad idea to have Indian, Chinese and Malay traditional dances in the itinerary. But little did they realise that these were the things that the delegates were looking for as they are hardly found (them) elsewhere.”

The jury headed by Malaysian filmmaker U-Wei Shaari, who has garnered several international awards, will select the competition entries.

KLIFF has already been included in the Asia-Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) calendar, a huge recognition given that it is just a year old. APSA is an international cultural initiative of the government of Queensland, Australia.

A former actress, Wafa, who began as a child artiste when nine years old, has been involved in the film world for over 20 years. Her involvement in a film festival as an organiser first came in 2003.

“I was asked to manage an event, the Kuala Lumpur World Film Festival. It was held in conjunction with the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). I enjoyed the assignment and fell in love with the work.

“A couple of years later I decided to make a pitch for KLIFF 2007, which became a reality,” said the mother of four.

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