This post will veer slightly away from what we have been doing so far, and turn our attention towards the upcoming short film competition called the BMW Shorties. It’s a competition that has been running for a couple of years now, and quite frankly, it has grown and grown more and more year on year. I myself never got round to submitting an entry myself. That can be put down to timing, and, slightly shamefully, the slipping of the mind. For some reason, that has been happening a little more often than I would have liked it to; we all have days when we’d wonder what day it actually is, but I think it has occured to me several times over the past month already.
But enough about me. This post is not about me. It is about the shorties.
Short films in Malaysia has not really been given the attention that it probably deserved in recent times. To be frank, that’s a shame, because I feel that it is a movement that is growing incredibly fast. Nowadays, it appears to be the accepted method of making one’s way in the industry, if one is serious enough about it. It’s short enough to not make people feel that they’re wasting their time if they don’t like it, but it also gives a pretty good idea to those doing it about how a film is made. In so many ways, the process of making a short film and a feature film can be incredibly similar. The preparation stage, the production stage, and the post-production stage all share incredibly similar characteristics whether you’re working on your ‘Kami’ or on your first ten-minute short film. In fact, in terms of length, it is possible that a feature film can take a shorter time to produce than a short film. This, of course, depends on so many factors, such as schedules, money, as well as the kind of story that you want to make. The late Yasmin Ahmad is famous for this, wrapping her feature films in a shorter time than my classmates take to shoot their shorts. With the technology to make your own digital films easily accessible, there’s really no excuse anymore for people who want to get in on the action.
Within Malaysia, however, until recently, getting in on the action has thus far been restricted mainly one-off screenings organised by the likes of Filmmakers Anonymous, Kelab Seni Filem, and KLue. Recently, a number of other screenings have also been organised by the likes of Homegrown Space and Checkered Past (I literally found out about Checkered Past a few days ago).There are others, peppered throughout the main cities of Malaysia, but it still remains somewhat on the fringes of the fringes of the art society. Especially when compared to countries with an established short film network like Korea or Japan (there’s an emphasis on short films at most of the film festivals within these nations). Nevertheless, as I have said, it is a movement that is growing, so much so that there has been support from the more-corporate areas of life. The Astro company, through the Astro Kirana Short Film Awards, have served to bring more of these shorts through to mainstream consciousness, with a proper awards show that, in concept at least, is not far off from the major film award shows (though with the recent demise of the Kirana channel, I don’t know whether this will continue).
The BMW Shorties is another. Since its inception in 2006, the competition has become arguably the leading short film competition in Malaysia. Predictably, it is bankrolled by BMW, who have been doing similar initiatives back home in Germany. More prominently, their series of short films, The Hire’, promoting their cars was incredible. Headlined by Clive Owen, and fired up by the likes of Tony Scott, Ang Lee and Guy Ritchie, they were incredibly amusing (my favourite is ‘Ambush’ made by John Frankenheimer). So they definite have some history here, which makes a little more sense as to why they would back such endeavours like making short films.
Anyways, without further ado, I give to you the nominees for this year’s competition. You can vote for the ones that you like, and the winner will be announced on the Thursday August 13th. The winners will get RM75,000 towards their next film, so I shall merely post the videos here, without fear or favour, and let you decide who should get their grubby mitts on the money.
‘Flashes’ by Prakash Murugiah
‘Ma Chai’ by Shanjhey Perumal
‘Codename Hashshashin’ by Chow Jann Rong
‘Lubang’ by Mohamed Fazry and Asmar Hassan
‘1:19’ by Chua Soon Min
‘7’ by Jimmy Lim
‘Conversation with Mad Men’ by Brandon Loh
‘Le Mannequin’ by Wong Wei Jian
‘Resonance’ by John Cho
Have fun, and happy voting!
To vote for the respective films, you can check out the official website for the competition here. Edmund Yeo, a filmmaker we previously interviewed, and someone who received an honourable mention from the said competition in 2008, also wrote about this year’s competition.