Questions have been asked about whether a highly publicised movie produced by Namewee really exists despite claims by the controversial Malaysian producer that it has received several nominations at film festivals abroad.
A Jakarta-based German journalist said the film “Babi”, which was the subject of a police report lodged by the youth wing of Perikatan Nasional last month due to its racially-charged poster, “does not exist at all”.
“What we have is a trailer and a music video. The youth organisation of the governing party of Malaysia nevertheless did Namewee the favour to file a complaint,” Marco Stahlhut wrote in Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
MalaysiaNow has contacted Namewee, whose real name is Wee Meng Chee, for a response.
He earlier claimed that the film “Babi” had been shortlisted by film festivals in Berlin, Toronto, Bangkok and Taiwan.
The film revolves around a racial riot at a school in a small Malaysian town in 2000, when the country was “still under the authoritarian rule of one dominant party”, Namewee wrote on Facebook in August.
“What we have is a trailer and a music video.”
He further claimed that the riot never made the news due to “media and news being stingently controlled and filtered”.
“I believed after hearing the film title, everyone would be scared off… Yet in the end, I’m still managed (sic) to finish this film with a very very very tight budget,” he wrote.
But Stahlhut questioned Namewee’s claim on the film’s nominations, saying the festivals in Berlin and Toronto are motivated by “financial rather than aesthetic issues” in deciding nominations and awards.
He said Namewee’s claim that his film had been recognised at the International Thai Film Festival in Bangkok was also doubtful.
He said the festival had only been in existence since 2018, and that this year organisers had only streamed trailers online.
Stahlhut said organisers of another film festival named by Namewee, the Taipei Golden Horse Festival, could not confirm that they had watched the film.
“It would be shocking that such a large, longstanding film festival as the ‘Golden Horse’ would nominate a film for a prize without having watched it, and would fundamentally call into question the value of its nominations,” he wrote.
“I know that sounds like a conspiracy theory, but I’m not even sure the movie ‘Babi’ exists.”
He said the Taiwan-based distributor of the film, Sky Films, also could not provide him with a preview of the movie, adding that the company told him to form an opinion on the film through press releases, trailers and music videos.
Contacted by MalaysiaNow, Stahlhut said he had not found “a single person that has watched the movie”.
“The actual movie – not the trailer, not the music video, but the movie. I know that sounds like a conspiracy theory, but I’m not even sure the movie ‘Babi’ exists,” he added.
He also took to task writings by some media outlets in Malaysia which had praised Namewee’s movie.
“None of the authors watched the work,” he said.