Malaysian rapper Namewee’s film Babi received four award nominations, including Best Director and Best Actor, from four international film festivals.
In a Facebook post, Namewee shared that Babi – which is banned in his home country – got nominated in the Berlin International Film Festival, Bangkok International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival and at Taiwan’s Golden Horse Award.
“Babi” is Malay for “pig”, and is also used as a racial slur in Malaysia and Singapore.
The 37-year-old filmmaker and rapper, whose real name is Wee Meng Chee, also brought up the challenges of not being able to screen the film after shooting it: “From the start, we were sure the film will not be screened and there will not be any financial returns. So we rushed through the shooting to show the world Malaysia can do it.”
“Surprisingly, there is a company in Taiwan that wants to screen the film, although deep down I doubt ticket sales will be good. But to us, this is an opportunity,” he wrote.
See the post, written in Mandarin, below.
Nominated outside but banned in Malaysia. Thx kerajaan…
Babi, according to Namewee, centres around a real-life school racial riot that happened in Malaysia in 2000 that was allegedly covered up by the government.
“The script was actually written seven years ago,” the rapper wrote last August. “The main reason that the film was not in production that time was because nobody would ever consider [investing in] a zero-profit film [that might be banned].
“The second reason was I had no idea whom should I ask for help, I believed after hearing the film title, everyone would be scared off… Yet in the end, I’m still managed to finish this film with a very very very tight budget.”
Babi is the second film of Namewee’s that was banned in Malaysia. His 2014 movie Banglasia was also banned for allegedly promoting homosexual lifestyles and for ridiculing national security.
The rapper claimed that the Film Censorship Board of Malaysia deemed Banglasia inappropriate for public screening due to 31 scenes.
Homosexuality is illegal in the Southeast Asian country, where Islam is the official religion.
In 2007, he again attracted brickbats for mocking the Malaysian national anthem in his song ‘Negarakuku’, whose title is a corruption of the actual anthem title, ‘Negaraku’ (‘My Nation’).
He was also imprisoned in 2016 and 2018 for insulting Islam in his music videos for ‘Oh My God!’ and ‘Like A Dog’.
As a rapper, Namewee has released nine albums. His latest was a live album for his 4896 World Tour.