MIPTV: Malaysian Reps Attend in Record Numbers Despite Uncertainties at Home

More than 40 companies from the country are present at the festival in Cannes, while Malaysia's own content market remains in limbo after its parliament was dissolved.

Malaysia has arrived at MIPTV 2013 with its biggest coordinated presence to date – less than one week after Prime Minister Najib Razak dissolved the country’s parliament and called for general elections, keeping the country's own content market and planned film festival in limbo. 

More than 40 Malaysian companies -- TV and film production studios, broadcasters, animation and documentary producers -- are represented at the France's leading TV industry confab this year. Various government agencies and acronym-heavy departments are said to be behind the country’s ramped-up participation in Cannes: National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS), the Malaysian Communications & Multimedia Commission (SKMM), the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), the Malaysian External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) and Creative Content Association of Malaysia (CCAM).

STORY: Malaysian Government Bans Gay TV Characters

The increased showing at MIPTV comes as something of a reassurance to the regional entertainment industry, indicating as it does that Malaysia will likely forge ahead with the various production incentives and grants it announced for domestic and international content producers in 2012.

The most significant incentive taking effect this year is the "Film in Malaysia Incentive" (FIMI), which now offers local and foreign production companies a 30 percent rebate on all production and post-production spending in Malaysia. There is also the $38 million Creative Industry Grant (from the Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture); the $33 million Creative Industry Development Fund by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission; and the $65 million MyCreative Fund by MyCreative Ventures.

Many industry-watchers have recently been wondering whether Malaysia would follow through with the various investments it had pledged to its entertainment sector, after it failed to deliver on the announcement of a new film festival and content market to take place in Kuala Lumpur in late 2012.

In a much-hyped announcement at Cannes last year, Malaysia unveiled ambitious intentions to boost its profile on the international festival circuit, with an all-new content market – the Kuala Lumpur Communications & Creative Industry Mart (KLCCIM) – along with an inaugural International Film Festival Malaysia (IFFM), slated to take place in November 2012. Those dates were later delayed – in a more understated notice – to March 26-29, a rather bold ask for international buyers and sellers given that the more established Filmart would be taking place just the week prior in Hong Kong. As March approached and communications ceased, it became apparent that the festival wouldn’t be materializing anytime too soon.

STORY: Malaysian Police Crack Down on Movie Piracy Site

“Since the general elections are coming up, all government spending has been put on hold, and we’re not sure if it’s going to happen this year anymore -- or even at all,” one Malaysian industry insider told The Hollywood Reporter at Filmart in March. “There have been a lot of internal problems and complications,” he added.

Meanwhile, construction of the $120 million Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios facility in Johor has been surging ahead. The 20 hectare integrated studio facility, a collaboration between the Malaysian government's investment arm, Khazanah Nasional Bhd, and Pinewood Shepperton -- the British studio best known as the home for the James Bond franchise -- is due to be completed in May.

According to the Malaysian government, the studio and new 30 percent rebate incentive are estimated to generate $325 million of economic profit in Malaysia over a period of eight years thanks to the expanded number of foreign films and television shoots they will attract.