By Deborah Agustin

After a month of preparation, it was D-Day for the shortlisted proposals for this year’s FFF film grant. A total of eight proposals were selected to pitch to Jerald Joseph, a human rights trainer and a Director of Pusat KOMAS; Harun Rahman, a documentary filmmaker and producer and the current President of MyDocs(The M’sian Documentary Association); and Noor Effendy Ibrahim, a well known figure in the Singapore arts’ scene and former Artistic Director of the Substation; on the 12th of April.

The group of documentary filmmakers gathered in the Komas office last Sunday came from very different backgrounds. While some of the candidates had filmmaking experience, a few people were complete newbies hoping to make their first documentary. The candidates were each given five minutes to pitch their idea, and then fifteen minutes to answer questions from the judges about their proposal.

The competition was stiff, as all eight filmmakers pitched unique interpretations on the “Unseen, Unheard, Untold” theme. It was clear that everyone had a lot of passion for their projects, and some of the filmmakers had even started filming. The judges evaluated how much the proposal related to the theme, the possibility of completing the film before the July 31st deadline, and if there was a fresh angle explored. Although there was only supposed to be three winners, the judges decided to award grants to four of the pitches. Here’s a little bit about each of the four winning pitches:

Film Grant Winner #1: “Sindiket” by Nizam Adnan

The first winning proposal came from Nizam Adnan from Sabah via Skype. Nizam’s pitch was for a documentary titled “Sindiket” about the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on undocumented immigrants in Sabah. Nizam proposed to document the views and opinions of Sabahans about the RCI and its findings. It’s often a complaint of East Malaysians that the issues of Sabahans and Sarawakians are not heard by Peninsular Malaysians, so this pitch definitely met the Unheard part of our theme.



Film Grant Winner #2: “Disebalik Runcit” by Arrivu

Next up was Arrivu Jacob with a pitch intriguingly titled “Disebalik Runcit”. Arrivu proposed a film that focused on the owner of a small sundry shop owner who is facing stiff competition from chain supermarkets and convenience shops that are popping up close to his shop. Arrivu wanted to examine what the status quo is, and possible solutions for these small business owners. Seeing as GST has just been introduced, a film about the future of small businesses in Malaysia is timely.


Film Grant Winner #3: ‘Kupas Goes Viral – Anatomy of a Controversy” – David Buri

The third proposal, “Kupas Goes Viral – Anatomy of a Controversy” came from David Buri. David pitched a documentary about the controversy that erupted after the BFM Kupas video, “Hudud Isi Periuk Nasi?” went viral. David said that his documentary would be an attempt to learn how to foster better dialogue in Malaysia. Considering that respectful dialogue on anything deemed ‘sensitive’ is difficult to achieve in Malaysia, it was refreshing to hear of an attempt to create a space for constructive dialogue.


Film Grant Winner #4: “Memory as Resistance – Grandma Kong Defending Her Village”

The final winning pitch, “Memory as Resistance – Grandma Kong Defending Her Village” came from co-directors Chan Seong Foong and Victor Chin. Seong Foong and Victor have worked with the villagers of Kampung Hakka in Mantin, Negeri Sembilan who are resisting the impending demolition of their village. The filmmakers want to focus on Grandma Kong, who was born in Kampung Hakka and intends to live in the village until the end of her days. As Malaysia pursues developed nation status, it is people like Grandma Kong who are often left out of the conversation of how we should develop. The filmmakers want to examine the possibility of a future that includes the voices of people who have brought us to our present.

Now that the final four filmmakers have received their grants, the next step is the hardest: production! Stay tuned as we will be giving updates on the production of these projects, and more insight into what makes a winning film proposal.

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