Winning an award at the Cannes Short Film Corner...

Recently, a local filmmaker named Indrani Kopal had won an award from a student showcase that was part of the Cannes Short films Corner. Good for her, congrats!

But somehow, the media had been mistaking her award as an actual, official award from the Cannes Film Festival itself. We don't think we should lie to ourselves about these things (no, I'm not implying Indrani's doing that, she knows pretty well what the award is, but there are too many misleading articles since her win).

So... today, after reading one article to many that showed the writer's lack of research and knowledge on these film festival stuff, I decided to write this lengthy post in response to Edgar Ong's article (more like a poorly constructed rant piece, really), "M’sian wins at Cannes but potential winner at home is banned!"

I can't let this stand.


In this lengthy post, I explain the true nature of Cannes Short Films Corner. And, I dunno, point out how this article...
Posted by Edmund Yeo on Friday, May 29, 2015

What I wrote, in full:

In this lengthy post, I explain the true nature of Cannes Short Film Corner. And... I dunno, point out how this article is giving me a headache, I guess.

(yes, before you share this article, you really should read what I have to say first)

When news of Indrani Kopal's "Cannes Film Festival award" came out last week, a few friends of mine asked me whether I knew of her or the award. I didn't want to say much because I didn't want to dismiss her achievements. That would be classless. I don't rain on parades. It sucks, I know, because people had done that a lot to me in the past decade.

Filmmaking is a tough and lonely endeavour, in which you find your perpetually disconnected from other people. I wish what Indrani's award could encourage her to make more films, I really do.

One thing though. Her film was part of the Cannes Short Film Corner, established in 2004, and very different from actually having your film IN THE FESTIVAL itself. More than 2000 short films can be shown in the Corner once you pay your submission fee (but there is still a selection process, I think), which allows you the opportunity to have industry people view your works in a screening room. It's great, and apparently there are awards given to these films. Again, kudos to Indrani for receiving her award. It's always nice for the locals to have something to celebrate. Once again, I wish this will lead to bigger things from Indrani!

I really need to point this out because I think this news have been quite misleading. I feel that we are being unfair to filmmakers whose works were actually officially selected as part of the Cannes Film Festival, or its parallel programs: the Directors Fortnight or the Critics Week. For official selection in each section, only 10-15 shorts were ever selected from around the world to compete. The selection process is far different. The historical implications are vastly different.

Really, you really can't say that your film is an official selection of the festival when it had market screenings at the festival, be it in Cannes, Hong Kong, Busan, Tokyo or Berlin.
It really diminishes those who were really COMPETING at the festivals. I'm not implying that Indrani's been doing this, because I doubt she would want to deliberately mislead the local media in such a way. But wouldn't it be better if we are more aware of the machinations of these film festivals? Instead of being so uninformed compared to our foreign brethren?
In Cannes Film Festival's 68-year history (it's really long, yeah), only 3 Malaysian films have ever gotten into Cannes Film Festival ("Kakibakar" in Un Certain Regard, "Karaoke" and "The Tiger Factory" in Directors Fortnight), and I think only one short film was ever selected as part of the festival. (Well, unless you also want to count foreign works by Malaysia-born directors like Tsai Ming Liang, or Ho Wi-Ding) It's very tough, it's the one that many filmmakers around the country are trying to achieve. It's glorious to be part of this selected company.

The writer of this article insinuated that there hadn't been a lot of coverage of Indrani's win because of her skin colour...

Look, I kid you not, there is really a huge difference between the Cannes Short Film Corner, and actually being in the festival, and winning awards. Look at Taiwan's nationwide celebration of Hou Hsiao Hsien's Best Director win, or Hungary's celebration of László Nemes' Son of Saul winning the Grand Prix. It's different. Nothing is impossible, if Indrani's future films gets selected into the film festival, and wins an award for it, I'll be pleased, and I'm very sure it will unite our nation too.

In truth, this article by Edgar Ong has left me a little baffled. Using Indrina's achievements to serve as a stark contrast (and irony?) to the sad fate of the movie, The New Village, being banned. I understand that Edgar was really just trying to condemn the draconian Censorship Board which has stifled the creativity of many local directors, forcing many of them to compromise the content of their works just for the sake of getting a local theatrical distribution.

Edgar was advocating for freedom of speech, which is a noble attempt. I too, am unhappy with The New Village's ban, because as filmmakers, we should be allowed the chance to approach things from different points of view, to unveil certain aspects of history, to create discourse between audience members. There is nothing wrong with that, therefore I disagree with The New Village's ban. We live in a suffocating environment which prevents us from asking questions through cinema.

Yes, The New Village's ban is tragic. We are all fighting to make our voices heard, yet we continue to be silenced. I understand that Edgar's intention might have to point out that, in such an environment, how could we ever make something worthwhile that can explore universal truth? I just don't really agree with the sensationalist headline. I'm not sure whether the value of a film should be evaluated entirely on whether it had "won a Golden Globe or an Oscar" as insinuated by Edgar's article (after all, some of the greatest film masterpieces in history of world cinema could barely sniff an Oscar during the past century, Tarkovsky, Bela Tarr, Edward Yang, pre-Grandmasters Wong Kar Wai etc. And not a single Korean film was ever nominated for an Oscar, yup, none of Lee Chang Dong, Park Chan Wook or Bong Joon Ho's internationally-acclaimed films were ever nominated)

I don't know. We should just concentrate in making great films. That's all. Maybe our limitations will make us more creative.

This comment was entirely appropriate.

the real Malaysian irony is that when someone wins a really important international award he/she may not be appropriately acclaimed back home... cause then, the press also doesn't seem to be able to sort out the 'real' awards.

A year ago, I posted this before, and I didn't remember about it at all!
Yup. Getting into the Cannes Short Film Corner is different from actually getting your film screened there.(Although...
Posted by Edmund Yeo on Friday, May 16, 2014

Yup. Getting into the Cannes Short Film Corner is different from actually getting your film screened there.

(Although most local mainstream media here haven't been able to tell the difference between actually being invited for screening at the prestigious festival, or, you know, "bringing the local films to the Cannes Market". I've also stumbled across filmmakers who proudly posted "OFFICIALLY SUBMITTED TO CANNES FILM FESTIVAL" to promote their films on their blogs, which made me die a little inside)

So, to date, in the festival's 67-year history, only 3 Malaysian feature films were actually invited to Cannes Film Fest. U-Wei Haji Saari's KAKIBAKAR (1996) at the Un Certain Regard, Chris Chong's KARAOKE (2009) and Woo Ming Jin's THE TIGER FACTORY (2010), both at the Director's Fortnight. As for short films, all I know of was SEPOHON RAMBUTAN INDAH KEPUNYAANKU DI TANJUNG RAMBUTAN (2006) by U-Wei, also at the Director's Fortnight.

Yes, I co-wrote, produced and edited THE TIGER FACTORY, so I can't say that I'm entirely impartial regarding this matter. But I'm just gonna share the trailers of the aforementioned films that were in Cannes.

Actually, for U-Wei Haji Saari's KAKIBAKAR, the entire film is on Youtube! Okay, thanks to this blog post, the entire film got taken down -_- Here's an excerpt instead.


A teaser of Chris Chong's KARAOKE.


A trailer of Woo Ming Jin's THE TIGER FACTORY. Along with its press conference video :D




Ming Jin tries to explain this award too.

I've seen this being shared about our Malaysian 'Cannes winner'. While the award was given in Cannes, it was not part of the official festival. That would be like being at the Oscars, in a small unrelated event, winning an award, then claiming you 'won at the Oscars'. The Short Film Corner has no selection process, every film that pays a fee gets in. I don't know what that award is, but it isn't one from the Cannes Film Festival. Do a google search journos, for crying out loud! Have pride in your profession. Stop spreading uninformed untruths!

And now, I would like to tell you all about the Paolo Bertolin award I won.

I was so overwhelmed when I won the Paolo Bertolin Award from the Vienus International Film Festival that I cried tears of manliness! Thank you! You like me! You really like me!
Posted by Edmund Yeo on Monday, March 30, 2015