Arts and Cultural Communications have always been a strong focus for BMW Group Malaysia. For over 13 years now, the premium automaker has been discovering and supporting local talents not only within the country but regionally and even globally. The BMW Shorties has and continues to lay the groundwork for local Malaysian film talent and digital content creators to build a name for themselves in the emerging digital media industry. Here is a look at how far they have come since.
In 2007, when the creative industry saw the likes of ‘Mukhsin’ by Yasmin Ahmad and ‘Zombi Kampung Pisang’ by Mamat Khalid, the BMW Shorties took its first step into the scene with the theme, Mobility. Since then, the prestigious short film competition created by BMW Group Malaysia has gone on to thrill and impress film enthusiasts worldwide, garnering international recognition for its pioneering initiative in Malaysia.
Sashi Ambi, Head of Corporate Communications of BMW Group Malaysia said, “The creative mind drives the innovation of the world today and the BMW Shorties is an initiative to inspire, discover and support emerging creative talents here in Malaysia. The program has very high aspirations and ambitions in that it hopes to create careers and opportunities for these creative talents to contribute to building a dynamic nation.”
Zahir Omar, Grand Prize Winner of The BMW Shorties 2007.
The BMW Shorties’ first winner was crowned in 2007 with his surrealist depiction of drug abuse and death in ‘K-Hole’. Zahir Omar took home the grand prize of RM50,000 to fund another short film of his own, ‘Teddy & I’. With numerous TV commercials for brands such as TNB, Celcom, McDonald’s and more under his belt, he went on to direct his first feature film ‘Fly By Night’ that premiered in April this year. Supported by BMW Group Malaysia, the crime thriller left Malaysians in awe of his storytelling skills and despite a short cinema run, was a critically acclaimed favourite almost immediately.
The feature took international film festivals by storm, including the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, New York Asian Film Festival, and Busan International Film Festival. Zahir and his team were also nominated for Best Asian Film at the Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival. For those who missed it in the cinemas, Fly By Night is now streaming on Netflix.
Shanjhey Kumar, Grand Prize Winner of the BMW Shorties 2009.
With several years of experience writing and directing over 300 documentaries, musicals and children programmes featured on Malaysian television, Shanjhey won the BMW Shorties in 2009 with ‘Ma Chai’ – a fun and light-hearted depiction of life in a multiracial community. The production grant he won was then channeled into directing ‘Jagat’, which was later further developed into a critically acclaimed feature film.
Shanjhey rose above the challenges and completed ‘Jagat’ in ten years despite limited budget and resources. The feature film did not only win the Best Malaysian Film Award at the 28th Malaysian Film Festival, but it was also the film that sparked the removal of non-Bahasa Malaysia award categories to allow equal playing field for all filmmakers. ‘Jagat’ is now also streaming on Netflix.
Chen Yih Wen, Grand Prize Winner of the BMW Shorties 2010.
A trailblazer in her own right, Chen Yih Wen stands as the BMW Shorties’ first and only female winner and she has set the benchmark for documentary filmmaking in Malaysia since winning the short film competition in 2010. Her winning short film ‘Like Toy Dolls’ was screened at the Festival de Cannes 2011 and was the official selection for the Artivist Film Festival 2011, Asian Short Film Awards @ Screen Singapore 2011 and Freedom Film Fest 2011.
Yih Wen is now a senior producer and documentary maker for The Star Newspaper’s R.AGE, an international award-winning investigative news platform. This year, her documentary titled ‘The Hidden Cut’ won the award for ‘Excellence in Reporting on Women’s Issues’ at the SOPA Awards for Editorial Excellence. Her feature-length documentary on the Malaysian blind football team, ‘Eye on the Ball’ is set to be released locally in December this year and the film has already been recognised internationally at the Visions du Réel International Film Festival and even premiered at the Aperture: Asia & Pacific Film Festival in London.
Quek Shio Chuan, Grand Prize Winner of The BMW Shorties 2011.
Touching hearts with his winning short film ‘Guang’ about an autistic man and his brother navigating the harsh realities of life in Kuala Lumpur, Quek Shio Chuan was named the BMW Shorties Grand Prize winner in 2011. The winning short film gained recognition almost immediately and became the first Asian short film to win the Best Short Film Award at the prestigious 6th Alto Vicentino Film Festival in Santorso, Italy.
Seven years later, Quek remade ‘Guang’ into a feature-length film that saw nationwide appraise and multiple screenings internationally, including Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Quek also excelled in his career as a commercial director for several renowned clients including Petronas, TNB and Volvo after winning the BMW Shorties in 2011. He is scheduled to direct an original series for Netflix entitled, ‘The Ghost Bride’, a breakthrough for Malaysian directors.
It is clear that the BMW Shorties has had tremendous success over the years. Now in its 13th year, the BMW Shorties hopes to continue instilling in Malaysians the desire to pursue artistic intellectual and creative values to their absolute limits, and in others the appreciation for and interest in the local film industry.
The BMW Shorties 2019 is still open for entries until 11th October 2019 at 6:00PM. For further information on the BMW Shorties and how to participate, visit the official BMW Shorties website at www.bmwshorties.com.my or the official BMW Shorties Facebook page at www.facebook.com/bmwshorties and Instagram page at www.instagram.com/bmwshorties.