Dare to Document – “What Lies Beneath”

Judges Shamini, Aloke, Yati and Brenda with one of the Malaysian Film Grant Winner, Ashleigh

The FFF 2016 panel of judges has selected 2 winners out of a shortlisted 5 film proposals for this year’s winning film proposals. The shortlist was compiled from 20 proposal submissions which had to feature Malaysian human rights stories under the theme “What Lies Beneath”. Each winner will be awarded RM8,000 to produce their film which will premiere during the FreedomFilmFestival in August 2016.

The 5 shortlisted film makers were each given 5 minutes each to pitch their film proposal which was followed by 15 minutes of questions and answer with the panel of judges which comprised of prominent activists, media practitioners and filmmakers.

From Left: Judges Shamini, Brenda and Premesh deliberating on the pitch presentations

The judges are Aloke Devichand, Senior Producer at Al Jazeera English; Premesh Chandran, CEO of Malaysiakini; Sharmini Darshini, Executive Director of Amnesty International Malaysia; Brenda Danker, FFF’s Production Consultant and documentary film director, Norhayati Kaprawi.

Winner No 1:

Nova Goh (Sarawak)

Title of film: “Peluk and Simo”

Synopsis: Peluk Apeh and Simo Sekam are members of the oldest remaining Indigenous Bidayuh tribe inhabiting Bengoh valley in Sarawak for many generations. They were displaced because of the construction of the Bengoh Reservoir Dam which supplies water to the capital city of Sarawak Kuching and surrounding suburban areas. Peluk is one of the last “Ring Ladies” practicing the dying customary practice of wearing brass and copper rings around her neck and wrist. She had decided to accept the compensation offer and to be relocated from the valley. But Simo a padi farmer, pastor and village headman decided to remain close to their home and relocated his village further upstream from the dam.

What is in store for both their lives after being displaced from their villages and what will they have to say when they finally meet each other again in their respective new lives and homes.

Winner 2:

Malaysian Grant Winner Ashleigh during the pitch

Ashleigh Lim (Muar, Johor)

Title of film: “Stories of my father”

Synopsis: A daughter tries to make connections between her seemingly ordinary life and her father’s past as he shares with her about his experience of being detained without trial from 1968 to 1974 for his involvement in the Labour Party which was subsequently outlawed because of its pro-communist leanings.  The film also offers us a glimpse of his experience after detention, his continued friendship with other ex-detainees as well as life with his family.

The other 3 shortlisted film proposals are:

“Abingkoi” by Harold Egn Eswar on rural children education in Sabah; “IC” by S. Nagenteran on Malaysian Indians who do not posess valid birth certificate and identity cards; and “The Plague” by Gabriel Lee Sew Kuan on the impact of bauxite mining in Pahang.

Pitch Finalist – S. Nagenteran

Pitch Finalist – Gabriel Lee

Pitch Finalist – Harold


The next round of film proposal submission to compete for film grants is now open until the deadline on August 1, 2016. Click here to submit your film proposal.

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