Malaysia’s leading annual human rights film festival, FreedomFilmFest (FFF), which will take place in Petaling Jaya from 29 September – 7 October 2018, has one goal in mind this year, to echo the mission statement of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which calls for all member countries to pledge that “No one should be left behind.”
As FFF fans will know, each year we award small film grants to filmmakers from Malaysia and Singapore who pitch their human rights documentary ideas to a panel of expert judges for consideration.
This year we are proud to announce the awarding of four grants to four filmmakers who will also receive production support for their documentary to be fully envisioned and premiered at this year’s festival in Petaling Jaya. The festival will later travel to other key states in Malaysia including Penang, Johor, Sabah, Sarawak and also on to Singapore.
This week we highlight Singaporean filmmaker and thespian Yusri ‘Shaggy’ Sapari, of Paradise Pictures, who won an FFF film grant for pitching his documentary – “Trailer Boys”.
Living in Singapore, Shaggy says he gets to see how easily memories can be lost in today’s fast-paced and globalised world. “We need a way to mark our progress as a people” he says and documentary filmmaking is one of the best ways he knows how.
“Trailer Boys”, which will be completed and premiered at FFF 2018, charts the story of the underdog heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers who tirelessly work to support Singapore’s world-class port and maritime industry. Shaggy’s protagonists are a group of men and their partners who have banded together to support one another in their tough working environment with the hope of gaining recognition.
Inspired by Tokyo’s vibrant Dekotora Trucks (Art Trucks), the collective have decorated their vehicles and inspire to be recognised at the same level as the likes of the Harley Davidson Group or the Volkswagen Beetle enthusiasts. Shaggy’s documentary will follow the truck drivers and their partners as they attempt to seek official recognition in Singapore.
So what motivated Shaggy to document the Trailer Boys in the first place? He says it was his own perceptions of the drivers that he wanted to challenge.
“Living in a fast-paced society like Singapore, we tend to shortcut our thinking by placing people in categories to make things convenient when you communicate with them. In this case, it was a negative box that i’d been putting them [the truck drivers] in. One day I caught myself having a negative thought about them. I realised I looked down on them. I stopped myself and asked why I was judging people I barely knew. So I did a Facebook callout to search for these truck drivers. Thats when I met Teddy from Abam2 Trailers and the rest is history.”
And why did he choose to submit his documentary to FFF? “I feel it’s important for Singaporeans to realise that we need to engage with the region. There is so much we can learn just outside the island. I was encouraged that there will be production support from the Freedom Film Network. I saw it as an opportunity to grow. So far it has been a great experience working with the team and I look forward to completing my film with their guidance.”
Shaggy hopes that his documentary will enable wider exposure of the life of the Trailer Boys and that members of the public might just find themselves challenging their own perceptions. “I want people who have never thought they would sit down and lepak with a truck driver to come and meet them face to face to understand what they are truly like.”
Documentary filmmaker Lynn Lee who was on the panel of judges told FFF that “Shaggy’s project has all the elements for a great story – plenty of heart, strong characters and a rare insight into a community working to make Singapore a better place.”
Trailer Boys will be premiered at FFF 2018 at PJ Live Arts, Petaling Jaya from 29 September – 7 October 2018.
For up to date information on FreedomFilmFest 2018 and the other winning film grant recipients please visit:
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