"Sepet" Withdraws From Asia Pacific Film Festival

"Sepet" Withdraws From Asia Pacific Film Festival

Yasmin Ahmad at the 18th Malaysian Film Festival

July 29 2005 - Critically acclaimed local and regional favourite "Sepet" will not be submitted for consideration at the upcoming 50th Annual Asia Pacific Film Festival (APFF), despite having bagged a number of awards at different festivals in recent months.

"Contrary to the message of the film, the victory has instead garnered all kinds of reactions, including hatred and anger," explained "Sepet" director Yasmin Ahmad. "Let me stress that I'm not sulking, but the 'anger' is just frightening. My greatest fear is that I'd incur more anger if I were to submit 'Sepet' for the APFF awards."

Despite winning "Best Picture" at the 18th Malaysian Film Festival earlier, "Sepet" has been met with backlash and public outcry over what the public has considered an upset victory over another favourite, "Puteri Gunung Ledang".

"There were many gracious losers and winners at the previous three festivals. FFM came as a shock to me, and to me, it's the most vicious festival of its kind," said Ahmad. The other two festivals in reference were the 2004 Malaysian Video Awards, where the film picked up "Best ASEAN Feature Film" accolades, and Malaysia's Global Chinese Arts Awards, where it was crowned "Best Film".

"The controversy has made me frightened of local film festivals," said Ahmad. "It just makes me sad."

Ahmad went on to suggest that other local films that have also succeeded internationally should be submitted for the APFF. Among her suggestions were James Lee's "The Beautiful Washing Machine" and Ho Yuhang's "Sanctuary".

James Lee

Ho Yuhang

"I feel honoured that she would suggest my film," said Lee in a phone interview with Cinema Online, "but at the same time, I don't think our local films are qualified (for the APFF). These are different types of films."

Yuhang, meanwhile, was "quite surprised" that Ahmad would suggest his film for submission at the APFF and, as of press time, "does not know if [he] will submit his film for the festival."

Despite the setback to her film, Ahmad isn't worried. "Yasmin Ahmad isn't going to sit idle," she proclaims. "I'm a filmmaker and I will keep churning out my products."

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