FiTA Studios – Garin Nugroho’s Latest Release Cost Rm2 Million, Co-Financed By Malaysian Production House

IN Jakarta for the domestic premiere of Garin Nugroho‘s Aach… Aku Jatuh Cinta! were representatives from Malaysia’s UiTM Holdings and its subsidiary, FiTA Studios.

Having provided half of the film’s RM2,000,000 budget, FiTA expressed their joy of collaborating with Indonesia’s PT Tripar Multivision Plus (MVP Pictures) on Aach… Aku Jatuh Cinta!.

Along with Ahmad Nasharuddin Hamzah, Director of UiTM Holdings and FiTA Studios, the film’s Malaysian financiers flew to Jakarta for the premiere and were visibly pleased with Garin’s work.

“We consider this regional benchmarking for FiTA. FiTA wants to have festival products as much as we want commercially oriented products,” explained Ahmad Nasharuddin.

The film’s celebrated director, Garin Nugroho, had full creative control of the movie, having earned the trust of funders thanks to his excellent track record.

“After watching the trailer and the film’s first two minutes, and knowing of the cast and its director, we grabbed the opportunity while the film was in the process of completion,” spoke Azlizan Fadzil, Group CEO of UiTM Holdings on investing in the film.

“We let Garin and the team berkarya, then picked up the finished product its key components.”

Garin is one of Asia’s best-known directors, having had his films selected for the Cannes Film Festival as well as scoring repeated wins at the Tokyo International Film Festival.

Aach… Aku Jatuh Cinta! premiered at the Busan International Film Festival last year and last month was chosen for International Film Festival Rotterdam.

Abdul Latiff Mohaideen, CEO of FiTA, added that it took eighteen years of networking and talks for their opportunity to work with MVP.

Working exclusively in the international division of FiTA, Latiff stated that the relationship with MVP continues into next year, when the acclaimed Indonesian production house commences a co-production on Malaysian shores.

There are three titles currently in progress under this collaboration.

“FiTA is interested in films which approach the nusantara region, so we constantly need to improve the standard of our collaboration,” explained Latiff, who deemed their experience with MVP a learning experience.

“The international market is looking at quality products from our region, but kita masih lagi buat filem untuk kelompok sama, masyarakat kita, audience kita.”

Latiff adds that the film’s production value is the result of four months of pre-production, and hopes that Malaysian production houses take note of the importance of this phase.

After months of preparation and rehearsing with his actors, Garin shot Aach… Aku Jatuh Cinta! over eleven days, making his cast rely heavily on improvisation and spontaneity.

“This is how you make a RM2,000,000 movie look like it cost RM5,000,000,” noted Latiff.

A Malaysian release for Aach… Aku Jatuh Cinta! is planned for this year, although cinemas remain an unlikely platform due to the length of time required by the Film Censorship Board (LPF) in approving films for local release. Hoping to evade piracy, FiTA is currently looking at Astro First as a potential medium.

After the reception of it’s debut project Chowrasta late last year, FiTA is determined to improve on the quality of their filmmaking even further.

Utilising Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM)‘s strength as an education centre and a hub for experts, FiTA hopes to bridge the gap between theoretical and practical filmmaking through a series of internal workshops. At present, the team is working closely with Astro to explore ideas with key lecturers from the institution.

FiTA Studios was established in 1998 as the Faculty of Performing Arts at UiTM. It expanded over the years and in 2011 was given its current name by prolific filmmaker and UiTM lecturer Abdul Razak Mohaideen, who currently spearheads FiTA’s domestic division.