Malaysia clinches major film honours at Aiffa 2023

Rain accepts the Asean Inspiration Award of Aiffa 2023. Flanking him are Abdul Karim (right) and Aiffa executive director Jaffri Amin Osman. — Photo by Roystein Emmor

KUCHING (Aug 5): It was a spectacular night at the 2023 Asean International Film Festival Awards (Aiffa) at the Pullman Hotel here last night, with Malaysia receiving four major awards and two special honours.

Renowned director and producer U-Wei Haji Saari was the recipient of the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’, presented to him by Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Sarawak Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

U-Wei, also Aiffa’s head of jury, said he never thought of being accorded such appreciation.

U-Wei regards the Aiffa 2023’s ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ as a ‘surprise’.

“I’m surprised when my name was announced as the recipient of the award. At the same time, I am grateful for such a recognition.

“One thing I would like to say here – please watch good movies. Life is short, but films live long,” he said in his acceptance speech.

Another special honour, the ‘Asean Spirit Award’, was presented to veteran comedian Sabri Yunus, who earned the recognition from his latest film ‘Duan Nago Bogho’, an action genre portraying the culture and identity of a Kelantanese.

Sabri delivers his acceptance speech after receiving the ‘Asean Spirit Award’.

The actor of the ‘Pi Mai Pi Mai Tang Tu’ fame received the award from Deputy Minister II for Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Sarawak, Datuk Snowdan Lawan.

Meanwhile, Malaysian film ‘Barbarian Invasion’ was a standout that night, in that it clinched the ‘Best Film’ and ‘Best Screenplay’ awards.

Previously, the movie bagged the ‘Jury Grand Prix’ trophy at the Golden Goblet Awards, part of the 24th Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF), back in 2021.

Produced by filmmaker Tan Chui Mui’s Da Huang Pictures and funded by Chinese film company Heaven Pictures as well as the Hong Kong International Film Festival Society, ‘Barbarian Invasion’ tells the struggle of a mother coping with divorce problems.

Actor Bront Palare, on behalf of the movie team, accepted the awards from Malaysian film director and producer Datuk A Razak Mohaideen and his Indonesian counterpart, Rachmania Arunita.

Bront accepts the awards on behalf of the producers of ‘Barbarian Invasion’. Standing behind the actor are A Razak (left) and Rachmania.

Malaysia’s film industry veteran Datuk Ahmad Tarmimi Siregar took home the ‘Best Actor’ award, earned from his portrayal of Mr Tan in ‘Perjalanan Pertama’ (First Journey), while the ‘Best Supporting Actor’ award went to Hasnul Rahmat for his role in the horror flick, ‘Jerangkung Dalam Almari’ (Demons in the Closet).

Commenting on Aiffa 2023 winners, U-Wei said the films favoured by the jury were the ones ‘close to the directors’ hearts’.

“The films that are honest and sincere, these are the ones that we, the jury, are attracted to.”

The entertainment line-up for the awards night was top-notch, bringing legendary and emerging artistes from all across the region.

They were Hetty Koes Endang, Sheila Majid, Zee Avi, Amir Jahari and The Shang Sisters, but perhaps the most anticipated appearance was that of South Korean celebrity Jung Ji-hoon – more popularly known by his stage name ‘Rain’.

The host for the night was Sarawak-born actor Tony Eusoff.

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