A conference that brings together international expertise to reimagine film regulation in the digital age.

Freedom Film Network’s inaugural Film & Society conference will take place on 7 – 8 September around the theme, “Content Creation, Choice and Control in the Digital Age”. 

Academics, film practitioners, artists and policy makers from around Southeast Asia and beyond will convene to share their expertise and experience on film classification, the protection of children in digital media and auteurship on difficult topics in film. 

Together, we want to reimagine film regulation in the digital age. How do we navigate and balance the protection of children with the freedom of choice for adults when it comes to content? And how do we ensure the creativity of filmmakers remains protected? Are OTT platforms the answer? Join us as we discuss these issues and more. 

& Focus

A timeline of forbidden films

Bringing censored stories into the light

Was your film censored or banned?
Share your experience here and we’ll upload it to the censorship timeline!

Day 1: September 7th 2023

Spectrum room

This panel is a comparative perspective of film classification systems from around the world and a discussion of the best model.
A regional look at telling difficult stories through film.
A presentation of the legal framework for film regulation in Malaysia with insights from the field.

Continuum Room

A screening of Bagan, Story 2 & Osom. Malaysian short films from young Malaysian filmmakers about underrepresented communities and stories followed by a Q&A
A screening of 46th Moon, Still in Motion & Rama-Rama. Malaysian short films from young Malaysian filmmakers about underrepresented communities and stories followed by a Q&A.

Day 2: September 8th 2023

Spectrum Room

Films and digital content can be a powerful tool for children. How can they harness its advantages and avoid its pitfalls?
How do filmmakers navigate censorship while staying true to their stories?
Why does alternative cinema matter?


Kathy Rowland presents Arts Equator’s inaugural research project to document arts censorship in Southeast Asia.
A presentation of reports and analysis of arts and culture censorship in Southeast Asia from 2010 - 2022 by Arts Equator’s fellows.
A roundtable with the main cast of Maryam Pagi ke Malam about the challenges and rewards of making difficult films.
A collective end note of key recommendations for policy makers with a press conference.

Call for Papers, Showcases and Workshops is now closed

In the digital era, we all want a viral hit. But what happens when your content goes viral for the wrong reasons? Today, it’s not just the Censorship Board who can ban a movie. Online outrage has the power to bring negative consequences to content creators and filmmakers. At Freedom Film Network’s inaugural censorship conference Content Creation, Control and Choice in the Digital Age we want to bring together experts and filmmakers from around the world to learn how we can navigate new forms of censorship. Join us to learn about how other countries have transitioned from censorship to classification while prioritising child protection; and, how filmmakers in the region and beyond organise in solidarity when content comes under the censor’s lens. Together we want to look at how censorship affects: 

  • Society 
  • The creative industry 
  • Censorship laws 

If you are a filmmaker, content creator, academic, researcher, arts or cultural worker in Southeast Asia we want to learn from your perspective about and experience with censorship. 

We are looking for presentations, showcases, screenings with discussions, and workshops on the following topic areas in the Southeast Asian context, but are not limited to:

  • Protecting the development and psychosocial wellbeing of children 
  • Strengthening systems to protect children
  • Representing Malaysia’s diversity and minority communities more fully on-screen 
  • Improving media literacy of Malaysians in the digital age
  • The importance of digital privacy 
  • Moving beyond self-censorship in Malaysian films 
  • Regional and international examples of community organising against censorship 
  • Modernising Malaysian censorship laws for the digital era 
  • Creating a globally competitive Malaysian film industry
  • Obstacles to success for Malaysian filmmakers  
  • How streaming services navigate different political and moral landscapes
  • Funding difficult stories  
  • How filmmakers dance with censorship 
  • Mitigating audience backlash/social media outrage 
  • Working on difficult topics (production, rehearsal, treatment, etc)

Submission Guidelines

The Call for Papers is open for: 

  • Individual paper presentations of 15 minutes. We accept published and unpublished research.   
  • Showcases  of creative works and films of 1.5 – 2 hours. Screenings and visual art/multimedia presentations should be accompanied by a moderated  discussion.  
  • Practice based sharings of 2 hours. This can take the format of roundtables/moderated discussions/case studies of experiences with censorship in film and other creative fields. 

The proceedings will be published online. 

Deadline: 1 August 2023

Successful applicants will be contacted by the third week of August.