One of the earliest actors to have received recognition outside of Malaysia is Tan Sri P. Ramlee. At the 3rd Asia Film Festival (AFF) in Hong Kong, he received the Best Music (Score) for the film Hang Tuah. The film’s actress, Zaiton, bagged the Best Supporting Actress trophy the same year.
P. Ramlee would go on to win the Best Actor award at the 4th AFF held in Tokyo for Anakku Sazali. The film also gave Tony Castillo the Best Child Actor award at the festival.
A quick look at the numbers reveals that P. Ramlee’s films have won every year at the AFF from 1956 to 1964; he took home the Best Comedy Awards three times – for Pendekar Bujang Lapok in 1959, Nujum Pak Belalang in 1960 and Madu Tiga in 1964.
Malaysian artistes continued to make the nation proud in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s by winning awards at this festival, which at some point became known as the Asia-Pacific Film Festival (APFF).
They include Aziz M. Osman (Best Child Actor for Sayang Anakku Sayang, 1976), Panglima Badol (Best Comedy, 1979), Sasha (Best Supporting Actress, Adik Manja, 1980), Fauziah Ahmad Daud (Best Young Actress, Abang, 1982), Ranjau Sepanjang Jalan (Special Jury Award, 1984), Raja Ahmad Alauddin (Most Promising Young Director, Hati Bukan Kristal, 1990), Sidi Oraza (Best Supporting Actor, Sayang Salmah, 1995), Khalid Salleh (Best Actor, Jogho, 1998) and Rosyam Nor (Best Supporting Actor, Lenjan, 1999).
In 2004, Maya Karin won the Best Actress award for Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam.
Here are some of the more recent winners.
Yasmin Ahmad – Yasmin set ablaze the film festival scene from her first big-screen feature. Sepet (2004) won the Asian Film Award at the Tokyo International Film Festival as well as the Grand Prix award at the Creteil International Women’s Film Festival.
For her 2006 title Mukhsin, Yasmin received Crystal Bear (Special Mention) and the Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk Grand Prix from the Berlin International Film Festival. At the Cinemanila International Film Festival Mukhsin won the Best Southeast Asian Film and from Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival, the Silver Hanoman Award.
The Tokyo International Film Festival also gave Yasmin the Asian Film Award (Special Mention) for Muallaf (2008).
In 2009, Cinemanila International Film Festival named Talentime as the Best Southeast Asian Film.
U-Wei Haji Saari – His 1995 film Kaki Bakar was screened at the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival.
His latest, Hanyut, received the Special Honor Award at the Asean International Film Festival and Awards.
Tiara Jacquelina – Tiara won Best Actress at the 2005’s APFF for Puteri Gunung Ledang. That same year, she was awarded the Best Producer at the inaugural Asian Festival of First Films in Singapore (2005).
Liew Seng Tat – Director Liew started his career on a high: his first feature film Flower In The Pocket was recognised at multiple film festivals with nominations.
He won at a few too – Deauville Asian Film Festival (Jury Prize), Fribourg International Film Festival (Grand Prix), Pusan International Film Festival (Audience Award and New Currents Award) and Rotterdam International Film Festival (Tiger Award).
Ho Yuhang – Ho’s films have won him and his cast a number of awards. Min (2003) won three (Cinemanila International Film Festival, Jeonju Film Festival and Nantes Three Continents Festival).
Mu (2004) won at Fribourg International Film Festival, Pusan International Film Festival and Rotterdam International Film Festival.
His 2009 film Sham Moh (2009) gave Hong Kong actress Kara Hui seven wins and one for him at the Locarno International Film Festival.
Deepak Kumaran Menon – Deepak’s Chemman Chaalai (2005) made an impact with the Three Continents Festival, Nantes, where it was honoured with a Special Jury Award.
Tan Chui Mui – She has a total of seven international wins. The most notable is her 2006 film Love Conquers All, which received the Tiger Award at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, New Currents Award as well as FIPRESCI Prize at the Pusan International Film Festival, the Grand Prize City of Lisbon at the IndieLisboa International Independent Film Festival and Swiss Oikocredit Award at the Fribourg International Film Festival.
Amir Muhammad – In 2002, he won the Silver Screen Award in the Best Asian Digital Film category at the Singapore International Film Festival for 6horts #1: Lost.
Dain Said – In 2011 and 2012, Dain took his film Bunohan the world over via the international film festivals; it made its world premiere at Toronto International Film Festival. Dain won at Asean International Film Festival and Awards (Best Screenplay). He also received the NETPAC Award at the Golden Horse Film Festival, the Golden Hanoman Award at Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival and the New Asian Cinema (Special Mention) at Five Flavours Film Festival.
James Lee – His 2004 film The Beautiful Washing Machine was honoured with awards at the Bangkok International Film Festival and Cinemanila International Film Festival. Similarly, he also was awarded for Call If You Need Me (2009) at Bangkok International Film Festival and Hong Kong International Film Festival.
He’s also won for the films Before We Fall In Love Again (2006) at Bangkok International Film Festival and If It’s Not Now, Then When? (2012) at Cinemanila International Film Festival.
Namewee – Thanks to his Nasi Lemak 2.0, Namewee won the Most Promising Talent Award at the Osaka Asian Film Festival in 2012.
Syamsul Yusof – His horror flick Munafik got him the Best Director award at this year’s APFF.
The Kid From The Big Apple – The Jess Teong-directed film won a total of four awards at the Macau International Movie Festival in 2015.
It nabbed the awards for Best Actor (Hong Kong veteran actor Ti Lung), Best Writing (Teong), Best Newcomer (Malaysia’s Tan Qin Lin) and Best Supporting Actress (Hong Kong’s Jessica Hester Hsuan).
Songlap – The 2012 film directed by Fariza Azlina and Effendee won two awards at the Asean International Film Festival and Awards in 2013: Best Actor for Shaheizy Sam and Best Picture.
Redha – The 2016 drama made an impression at World Premieres Film Festival with its two wins: Best Performance By An Actress for June Lojong and Special Festival Prize for director Tunku Mona Riza.
OlaBola – At the Golden Horse Film Festival, OlaBola’s theme song Arena Cahaya won the Best Original Film Song.
Woo Ming Jin – Woo’s films have been showcased at the prestigious Cannes, Berlin and Venice Film Festivals. His 2010 title The Tiger Factory made waves, winning the Asian Film Award (Special Mention) at the Tokyo International Film Festival. For Girl In The Water, Woo received the Best Short Film, at the Robert’s Award (Denmark). Meanwhile, The Elephant And The Sea received the Special Jury Prize at the Torino Film Festival. Woo also won the Special Jury Prize at Bangkok International Film Festival for Days Of The Turqoise Sky.
Edmund Yeo – Since making his debut as a director in 2008, Yeo has amassed a number of nominations and a few nominations in the international film scene. His 2009 short film, Kingyo premiered in Venice Film Festival and won at the Larissa Mediterranean Festival of New Filmmakers, Eibunren Awards (Japan) and Doi Saket International Film Festival (Thailand).
Another 2009 effort, Love Suicides gave Yeo Best Director awards at Doi Saket International Film Festival and China Mobile Film Festival (China). In 2010, Busan International Film Festival gave Yeo’s Inhalation the Sonje Award (Best Asian Short Film). Yeo’s track continued with a win at Sapporo International Short Film Festival in Japan for Last Fragments Of Winter.
This year his second feature Aqerat is in competition at the Tokyo International Film Festival.