FREEDOMFILMFEST 2017: THOUSANDS UNITE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

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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.

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.

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”.

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.

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