Category Archives: Malaysian Cinema

Global connections in three countries

In an earlier post on the film industry in Poland (Here) I looked at the range of countries to which the Polish film industry was connected through co-productions and incoming productions that did not involve a domestic partner (which I called autonomous productions). The data was taken from the Internet Movie Database, and while it cannot be said to provide a comprehensive overview of the globalisation of the film industry and its relation to Poland it does allow us to make some inferences about the range of countries a particular film industry is connected to in terms of a single type of interaction (i.e. feature film production). The aim behind this post, and today’s follow-up, is to get a sense of the web of connections that link different film industries by simply enumerating the number of connections between them. Further work needs to be done on the economic value of these connections in order to understand how co-productions and autonomous productions contribute to a film industry, and so the depth of penetration (call this the density) needs to be considered alongside the range of connections in order to describe the extent to which a film industry is globalised. We could, for example, distinguish between film industries with a high range and high density, those with a high range but a low density, a low range but high density, and those with a low range and a low density. (This could be represented in similar terms to the relationship between the transnationality and territoriality of UK productions I used in Redfern 2007). This would enable us to distinguish between different types of national film industry in the global film industry, whilst also allowing us to identify areas of potential weakness. For example, an industry with a low range of connections but a high density will be overly-dependent on production finance from a small number of countries coming into the industry, and should anything upset this balance (better incentives available elsewhere, changes in exchange rates, global economic meltdown) this will have a disproportionately large effect on the host industry that could (potentially) be wiped out.

Quite how to measure the density of global connections to a film industry is a problem I have not yet solved. We could use the proportion of the total production investment in an industry accounted for by co-productions and autonomous productions, but there may be better methods.

A first step must be to simply understand the level of global interaction; and to add to the data on Poland, this post applies the same method to three other film industries in Malaysia, Chile, and Morocco. (A key difference here is that the data for Poland covered the period 2002 to 2007, while the data for these three countries covers the period 2003 to 2007).


A total of 37 films produced in Malaysia were identified from the Internet Movie Database, accounting for a total 47 connections to 17 countries, and country by country summary is presented in Table 1. Of the 37 films included here, only six are co-productions, so while Malaysia may be a filming location of choice for many producers this does not involve Malaysian production companies. The single largest number of connections is to India, but all of these are autonomous productions. After India, Singapore, with 5, has the second largest number of connections (again all autonomous); but in general the number of connections is very low fr each country across a 5 year time period. Connections to other Asian countries account for 66% of the total, while Europe accounts for 23% and North America just 11%. In simple numerical terms, connections to industries in the immediate vicinity are more important than those that stretch across the globe, although as noted above it is difficult to assess the meaning of these connections in the absence of detailed of some understanding of how deep they go into the Malaysian industry.

TABLE 1 Co-productions and autonomous productions to shoot in Malaysia, 2003-2007


24 films produced in Chile were identified, accounting for a total of 42 connections to 12 countries. This data is summarised in Table 2. Of these films, just over half were co-productions and so (unlike Malaysia) a substantial proportion of productions shooting in Chile will have some sort of relationship to producers and filmmakers based in that country. South American countries account for only 21% of connections and North America (i.e. the US and Mexico) account for 31%, while seven different European countries account for just under half (48%). Unlike Malaysia (and Poland) it is not local connections that are the most important to Chile, but the relationships that reach further across the globe.

TABLE 2 Co-productions and autonomous productions to shoot in Chile, 2003-2007


For Morocco, a total of 69 films were identified accounting for 111 connections to 23 different countries. of the three countries looked at here, Morocco has the greatest number of connections and the widest range of countries, but like Chile is dominated by North America and Europe. There are connections to only one African country (Algeria), one Asian country (Japan) and one South American country (Brazil); while 17 European countries account for 78% of connections and three North American countries account for 27%. Interestingly, only Morocco out of the the three countries looked at in this post and Poland has connections to countries in all parts of the globe. However, only 15 of the films in this sample were co-productions, and so, like Malaysia, international production in Morocco is typically non-Moroccan production. Only France is a significant co-production partner. That so many links to France should be apparent is unsurprising, as the state was made of protectorate of France under the Treat of Fez (1912), and the European influence here is strong (as it is in Algeria and Tunisia). The country with the largest single number of connections is the US, and this is in large part due to the fact that Morocco can stand in for other parts of the Arab world without so many of the dangers. Numerous Hollywood movies have chosen to film in Morocco since 2003 for the desert locations, the architecture, the middle-eastern looking extras, and because Morocco can also pass for the ancient world. Thus Alexander (Oliver Stone, 2004), Troy (Wolfgang Petersen, 2004), and Kingdom of Heaven (Ridley Scott, 2005) have all been shot in Morocco (along with Arn – Tempelriddaren (Peter Flinth, 2007) and Arn – Riket vid vägens slut (Peter Flinth, 2008)). The Moroccan film industry appears to have benefited from the war in Iraq as the chosen location for Rendition (Gavin Hood, 2007), In the Valley of Elah (Paul Haggis, 2007), United 93 (Paul Greengrass, 2006), and Home of the Brave (Irwin Winkler, 2006), along with Syriana (Stephen Gaghan, 2005), Charlie Wilson’s War (Mike Nichols, 2007), and Body of Lies (Ridley Scott, 2007).

TABLE 3 Co-productions and autonomous productions to shoot in Morocco, 2003-2007


Although this post is only a brief survey of three countries using limited data, it is possible to see how the film industry in different countries can be connected to the rest of the world. It is possible to identify where local connections are important and where more the key relationships are over a longer distance. It is possible to compare where connections between countries result in co-productions or where relationships are not formed with local producers. As more data becomes available it will hopefully be possible to compare the number of connections between countries over time to gain an understanding of the dynamic relationship, rather than the simply static picture we have here. In simply enumerating the connections in the global film industry in this manner we can slowly build up a picture of a mosaic of film industries.


Redfern, N. (2007) Defining British Cinema: Transnational and Territorial Film Policy in the United Kingdom, Journal of British Cinema and Television 4 (1): 150-164. DOI 10.3366/JBCTV.2007.4.1.150