KUALA LUMPUR, July 6 — A kerfuffle has emerged between the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas) and makers of the popular film Mat Kilau: Kebangkitan Pahlawan.
Finas claimed that there had been a breach in an agreement as Studio Kembara (the filmmakers) failed to give proper credit to Finas and the Communications and Multimedia Ministry in a few mediums relating to the film, with the movie's producer now admitting to the error.
Abdul Rahman Mt Dali told Berita Harian that the error was accidental and reckless.
He admitted that as a newcomer in the local filming industry, the company was still not used to handling promotional materials with the list of credits.
"This happened because we overlooked it. All our crediting-related affairs were given to a third party.
"We were unaware that we did not include Finas’ logo on the film’s credit roll until the day of the premiere, recently.
"The mistakes also came from us who didn’t do a proper checking on the film before it was released,” Abdul Rahman said.
The 62-year-old also said the company has submitted a letter to Finas, which contains its apology regarding the incident and was looking forward to meeting Finas representatives.
He also said there was no conflict between the two parties
Previously, it was reported by Berita Harian that Finas had asked its lawyers to revise its crediting agreement with Studio Kembara.
According to Finas’ chief executive officer, Prof Mohd Nasir Ibrahim, they found that Studio Kembara failed to give proper credit in the film as per their agreement.
He said the producers failed to include Finas’ logo in their printing materials relating to the film even though this was stated in the agreement.
"Aside from that, (our) credits on the film’s credit-rolls were only added seven days after Mat Kilau: Kebangkitan Pahlawan were shown in cinemas.
"This is clearly a breach of contract that was already agreed upon and fixed by two sides,” he said.
Nasir also pointed out that Finas had provided RM1.5 million via the Digital Content Fund (DKD) to the film producers so that they could revive the RM8 million-budget film which was previously abandoned.
"Aside from DKD, Finas had also provided them with a marketing fund worth RM300,000 aside from lending our studio for post-production for free at Studio Mixtage, Kompleks Studio Merdeka worth RM180,000,” he said.
Nasir added that Finas were taken aback when the producers of the film apologised half-heartedly for their breach of contract and even blamed Finas for not informing them of their crediting agreement.
Aside from that, commenting on the performance of Datuk Adi Putra as the prominent Malay warrior, Mat Kilau, in the film, Nasir said that more holistic research is needed whenever a historical figure is involved in a film.
"The character, their looks, their accent, their walking style and silat, all must be studied. For example in the Gandhi film (1982), the actor studied and lived just like the character.
"The actor has gone through all that effort so that he could portray Gandhi as how the Indian citizens see the figure,” Nasir said referring to the acting efforts of Sir Ben Kingsley from the 1982 Hollywood biography film.
Criticism had arisen regarding Adi's portrayal of the main character.
Behind the scenes of Mat Kilau: Kebangkitan Pahlawan as shared by its director, Syamsul Yusof. — Picture via Instagram/ Syamsul Yusof.
However, Nasir, in a press release shared on Finas’ Facebook page, also took the chance to congratulate the film’s success, while also pointing out that the success is proof of resilience amongst local films in overcoming the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"We, at Finas, hope that the growing support for this film can further spark more interest towards other local films.
"We also hope that this could encourage local filmmakers to produce more quality work that could penetrate the local and international markets,” Nasir said in the press release.
Berita Harian also reported that Mat Kilau: Kebangkitan Pahlawan is now Malaysia's highest grossing movie after collecting RM51.8 million in ticket sales beating previous record holder, the 2018’s Munafik 2 which collected RM48 million.
The Syamsul Yusof film is a historical action drama set in the late 19th century during the British administration in Malaysia.
The film stars Datuk Adi Putra as the legendary Malay warrior, Mat Kilau, along with Beto Kusyairi, Fattah Amin, Yayan Ruhan and Johan As'ari as well as Indonesian action star, Yayan Ruhian.