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Now…the term “local movie” has been redefined to include local productions in languages other than Bahasa Malaysia

June 11, 2011

June 11, 2011 12:00 PM

Local Film Industry Poised For Upsurge

By Alan Ting

KUALA LUMPUR, June 11 (Bernama) — The local movie industry is poised for an upsurge in the area of non-Bahasa Malaysia language films following the government’s decision to allow them to be accorded the same tax incentives as Bahasa Malaysia or Malay movies.

Previously, locally-produced movies were considered “foreign” unless 60 per cent of the dialogue was in Bahasa Malaysia.

However, the term “local movie” has been redefined to include local productions in languages other than Bahasa Malaysia, and they would also enjoy the same privileges as Malay movies, such as the compulsory two-week screening at cinemas, and tax incentives.

With that, local productions will now be considered as “local movies” as long as at least half the film is produced in Malaysia and at least 51 per cent of the movie rights are owned by Malaysians.

According to the director of widely-acclaimed locally-produced Chinese movie “Ice Kacang Puppy Love”, Tan Kheng Seong, who received RM740,000 in tax rebate for his creative efforts, the changes to the rules had tremendously helped those in the local movie industry.

Initially, local movies like “Ice Kacang Puppy Love”, a poignant story about childhood friends set in rural Tronoh in Perak, were not entitled to any tax rebate or incentive despite being a box-office hit after raking in RM3.7 million in ticket sales.

However, the government, through the Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture, in recognition of the rich talent and cultural diversity available in the country, re-evaluated the rules and made some changes to improve the incentives for the entire local film industry.

“This is really helping. Since they (the government) allowed local films to enjoy the entertainment tax rebate, the industry has improved,” said Tan, who is popularly known as “Ah Niu”, and is a noted singer and composer of Mandarin and Hokkien songs.

The government’s intervention has prompted many local film directors to give their thumbs-up to the far-reaching move which they say will add more impetus to the nation’s creative industries.

Spurred by this, a number of local movie makers are shooting new films like “Petaling Street Warrior” and “3X Trouble” and some are even combining local talents with foreign ones to ensure that their films can also do well internationally, not just in Malaysia.

Besides “Ice Kacang Puppy Love”, several other local films had been given tax rebates, including “Tiger Woohoo” and “Lelio Popo”, and the tax rebates are said to come up to almost RM2 million.

For local movies shown from this year, those which gross up to RM6 million are eligible for an enhanced incentive scheme to replace the entertainment tax rebate scheme. The new Film Returns Incentive Scheme is based on ticket sales to determine the amount of incentive payment.

“Film producers must submit proof of ticket sales dockets to the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas) for verification before payment is approved,” said Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, who has been spearheading efforts to provide better incentives for the local film industry.

To date, 13 producers have received such incentives for movies like “Lu Pikirlah Sendiri The Movie”, “Lagenda Budak Setan”, “Kapoww”, “Estet”, “2 Alam”, “Aku Tak Bodoh”, “Janin”, “Aku Masih Dara”, “Damping Malam”, “Ice Kacang Puppy Love”, “Lelio Po Po”, “Tiger Woohoo”, “Appalam” and “Crayon”.

With the new scheme, feature films grossing up to RM2 million will be entitled to an incentive payment of RM200,000 while films grossing between RM2 million and RM4 million will receive 10 per cent of the ticket sales.

Feature films grossing between RM4 million and RM6 million will get an incentive payment of five per cent of ticket sales while films grossing more than RM6 million will not be entitled to the incentives.

Dr Rais had explained that the entertainment tax rebate scheme was rendered ineffective due the economic situation while state governments that adopted the scheme in 1987 had stopped paying the tax rebate since 2000.

The Kelantan and Perlis state governments do not implement the scheme as the states have no cinemas while the Sabah state government does not impose an entertainment tax for films screened in the state.

Last year alone, 29 locally produced feature films grossed RM76.02 million from ticket sales and received RM12.83 million in entertainment tax rebate from the government.

— BERNAMA

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