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Group Photo at FreedomFilmFest 2017 Awards Night
Group Photo at FreedomFilmFest 2017 Awards Night

FreedomFilmFest (FFF) 2017 may be over in the Klang Valley, but it’s still fresh in the hearts and minds of the organisers and participants. This year’s week-long festival successfully brought together thousands of members of the public at PJ Live Arts, who engaged in thought-provoking human rights talks, workshops and film screenings – some for the very first time.

Indeed, FFF2017 was a resounding success, with 3,000 members of the public attending the 8 day festival alongside 40 filmmakers and special guests from across the globe. FFF has always been a platform to foster and showcase local talent and this year was no exception. Of the 40 documentaries screened at FFF2017, 12 were focused on Malaysian issues and five were from FFF’s newly established Freedom Film Network.

The premier screening of “Diary For Prasana” by Malaysian filmmaker and FFN member Norhayati Kaprawi, saw PJ Live Arts packed out with lively and supportive audience members eager to hear from film protagonist Indira Ghandi and her family members. Kaprawi’s documentary garnered particular interest from the local media who had been covering the trials and tribulations of Indira’s heart-wrenching custody battle for years.

Photo 1 – Indira Ghandi’s mother addresses a packed crowd at the premier screening of “Diary For Prasana” by Malaysian filmmaker Norhayati Kaprawi. Photo 2 – Members of the public join interactive Q&A sessions after FFF2017 screenings. Photographs by Irene Yap, FreedomFilmFest.

Young Malaysians who attended the festival called the experience “eye-opening” with the festival bringing them “untold stories” not usually highlighted by the mainstream media. But it wasn’t just youngsters who gained new experiences at this year’s festival, one of the benchmark events was an empowering filmmaking workshop aimed at promoting life-long learning for seniors, who gained new skills in documenting their own stories.

FFF 2017 also engaged members of the Orang Asli (indigenous) community, as well as indigenous filmmakers from across the region who showcased and discussed their social films with the public. Seasoned indigenous activist and filmmaker Shafie Dris, told the media that his filmmaking was a crucial tool to counter misinformation about the Orang Asli community. Another event highlighted the digital stories of eleven Temuan Orang Asli youth members from two villages in Negeri Sembilan who shared their experiences, aspirations and challenges in accessing adequate education in Malaysia.

Photo 1 – Seniors from the Klang Valley join a workshop focused on life-long learning to develop filmmaking skills. Photo 2 – Indigenous community members pose for a photograph after a filmmaking workshop focused on the documentation of their land rights struggles. Photographs by Irene Yap, FreedomFilmFest.

This year’s festival was a success in large part due to the support and active involvement of FFF2017 partners/collaborators who engaged and connected different communities in important human rights workshops and discussions. Tenaganita for example helped FFF mobilise Overseas Filipino Workers residing in Malaysia to join the screening of multi-award-winning documentary “Sunday Beauty Queen”. Following the screening of “Theater Of Life”, Pit Stop Community Cafe and Dapur Jalalan introduced the public to a lively movement helping to redistribute waste food to the homeless in Kuala Lumpur. Civil society organisations Amnesty International Malaysia and Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) also collaborated with FFF to discuss Malaysia’s use of the death penalty following the screening of Filipino documentary “Give Up Tomorrow”.

As ever, this year’s award ceremony was much anticipated and our judges were proud to announce winners in the categories of “Best International Film” – “An Insignificant Man” by Indian filmmakers Khushboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla, “Best South East Asia Film” – “Nokas” by Indonesian filmmaker Manuel Alberto Maia and “Best Short Film” – “Sittwe” by US filmmaker Jeanne Marie Hallacy. A special mention was also given to FFF Film Grant recipient Andrew Ng who was awarded a trip to Leipzig Film Festival for the recognition of his outstanding short film “The Hills and The Sea” and IFDA Pitch/Grant recipient Chen Yih Wen for the upcoming Malaysian film “Eye On The Ball”.

Photo 1 – Overseas Filipino Workers in Malaysia pose for a photograph after the screening of “Sunday Beauty Queen” by Filipino filmmaker Baby Ruth Villerama. Photo 2 – Judges award “An Insignificant Man” filmmaker Vinay Shukla with this year’s “Best International Film” award as he joins the audience on Skype.

Those who missed the festival in Petaling Jaya can catch FFF as it travels to Kota Kinabalu (14 October), Kuching (29 October), Ipoh (4 November), Singapore (11-12 November), Muar (18 November), Johor Bahru (19 November) and Penang (25-26 November). Keep updated with upcoming FFF film pitch opportunities and screenings on our Facebook and Twitter pages.  Find out more about the Freedom Film Network and how to get involved here.

Photo – The FFF volunteers at the end of another successful film festival. Photographs by Irene Yap, FreedomFilmFest.

Want to know more? Check out the following media reports on this year’s FreedomFilmFest:

Asian Correspondent – Death Penalty: Wrongful Convictions and Unfair Sentencing In Malaysia

Asian Correspondent – Filipino Director Wants Next ‘Amy’ To Come From Southeast Asia

Benar News – Malaysian Filmmakers Form Alliance With Focus On Rights, Social Justice Issues

BFM Radio – Freedom Film Festival 2017

BFM Radio – Feminist Friday’s #27: Diary For Prasana

BFM Radio – Earth Matters: Journey To Raya Padi

CanLaw Report – This Filipino Man Was Sentenced To Death For A Crime He Did Not Commit.

Can Law Report – Our Orang Asli Friends Are Losing Their Homes. Here’s Why

Eksentrika – Shedding Light On The Plight Of The Orang Asli Through Films

Eksentrika – How Effective Is Virtual Reality In Addressing Human Rights Issues?

Free Malaysia Today – Festival To Show Film On Indira Ghandi’s Plight

Free Malaysia Today – Freedom Film Festival To Highlight Social Issues

Malaysiakini – The People Behind The Films At Freedom Film Fest 2017

Malaysiakini – Giving Filmmakers A Voice To Give The People a Voice

The Malaysian Insight – Freedom Film Fest An “Eye-Opener” For Young Malaysians

The Malaysian Insight – Diary For Prasana Inspires Indira Ghandi To Fight On

The Sun Daily – An Inconsolable Loss

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