Malaysia: now you see it …

Malaysian film officials have taken the opportunity of the Berlinale to announce delays, further delays, but nothing concrete for new incentive schemes and long-coming inaugural festival and market e
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Malaysian film officials have taken the opportunity of the Berlinale to announce delays, further delays, but nothing concrete for new incentive schemes and long-coming inaugural festival and market events.

The incentive scheme, trumpeted last year to be up and running on 1 January, will offer a 30% rebate on a minimum in-country spend of RM5 million (inbound production) and RM2.5 million for domestic fare.

The scheme is now expected to be in place by May, when new studio facilities are also slated to open.

The incentives were a key ingredient in the agreement between the UK’s Pinewood Studios to build new studio facilities in the south of the country, close to the border with Singapore which boasts a strong post and VFX/animation community.

The Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios will comprise five film sound stages, from 15,000 – 30,000 square feet, plus two 12,000 square foot TV studios. The largest stage will also have a water tank.

At the announcement of the delay in introducing the scheme, a temporary arrangement for provisional certification has been proposed. Given Malaysia’s recent problems delivering on this and other arrangements it’s announced in film, there’s limited faith in the temporary solution, which increases the risk for producers.

Adding to the potential problems, Malaysia faces a general election this year. There’s no guarantee that plans currently in place will remain once results are confirmed.

Preparations for that election have been cited as the reason for the (second) postponement of the Malaysia International Film Festival and accompanying market events (KLCCIM), slated for the last week of March.

The events were rescheduled from November 2012 to try to take advantage of the region’s largest market event, Hong Kong’s Filmart.

Organising body FINAS (which fulfils similar functions to the NZFC and Film NZ combined) underwent a shake-up as a result of the first delay, with a political appointee inserted as the new chair.

FINAS subsequently expressed the hope that international travellers would extend their stay in the region following Filmart to take advantage of the new opportunity in Malaysia. However, little seems to have happened since the first postponement.

The peripatetic Asian Side of the Doc, now approaching its fourth edition and mooted as one of the events to run under the KLCCIM banner, announced its 2013 dates on the weekend. It remains in Malaysia, but will run a week earlier than the proposed KLCCIM, against Filmart.

The newest addition to the burgeoning crop of Asian festival-cum-market events to launch, ScreenSingapore, suffered in its first (2011) edition and was quickly sold to MIP organisers Reed Midem, who moved it from June to December and combined it with Singapore’s well-established Asia Television Forum.

Perhaps wisely, the Malysian announcements in Berlin of further delays to their inaugural festival and market events did not suggest new dates on which they might run.

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