By Amy Dodds, summarised from a report by Ashleigh Lim
In 2016, Malaysian filmmaker Ashleigh Lim Chun-Ling was awarded a film grant from the FreedomFilmFest (FFF) for her admirable work on the documentary ‘Stories From My Father’. The film follows Ashleigh as she attempted to weave connections between her ‘seemingly ordinary life’ and her father’s past experience as a detainee under Malaysia’s notorious Internal Security Act (ISA) between the years 1968-1974. Ashleigh’s father was unjustly detained without trial for his involvement in the ‘Labour Party’ which was subsequently outlawed due to its alleged communist leanings.
The fruit of Ashleigh’s labour of love, was a grant to attend ‘DOK Leipzig’, the international documentary and animated film festival held annually in Germany. The festival ran from 31st October – 6th November 2016 and brought together a wide range of animators and filmmakers from across the globe. The festival incorporated film screenings, workshops, networking sessions and an opportunity for Ashleigh to rub shoulders with fellow directors and filmmakers.
The festival kicked off with 2 days of networking programs which consisted of different pitching teams from ‘Crossing Borders Projects’, ‘Masterschool Projects’ and ‘Member Projects‘. Ashleigh was particularly interested in the ‘Crossing Borders Projects’ where filmmakers from Eastern and Western countries worked together on a film with an Asian topic. “The program offered me a glimpse of how to pitch and work out a budget.” Ashleigh told us.
Being an animator herself, Ashleigh was particularly impressed with ‘AnimaDok’, a production technique combining video footage and animation. Ashleigh told FreedomFilmFest: The animated short films shown at ‘AnimaDok’ are very detailed and delivered a high level of artistic and aesthetic value that match so perfectly to the narration of stories. Two animated short films from this series left a deep impression on me about the ways of their storytelling, “Kaputt” (“Broken – The Women’s Prison at Hoheneck”) and “Bei Wind und Wetter” (“Whatever the Weather”).”
During her trip, Ashleigh also attended a meet-the-filmmakers session called ‘AnimaDoc Case Studies’, the panel consisted of two filmmakers and a producer, Marie-Josee Saint-Pierre (Canada), Anja Kofmel (Switzerland) and Carola Kutzner (Germany). Ashleigh says she got a lot out of the session. Anja, a professional animator, taught her that a storyboard is key to build the structure of a story and essential to decide the tone of the images you want delivered. Carola taught her that it is important to give space to the director and Marie-Josse said that everyone should ‘get creative’.
Ashleigh likewise partook in master classes with filmmakers, Bill Morrison (United States) and Marina Razbezhkina (Russia). Ashleigh lamented that “I found more interest in Marina Razbezhkina’s Master Class, not only for her humorous and warm way of delivering her talk, but also her concerns over various social issues for the underprivileged and the Ugric Mansi people who live near the borders of Russia and the visual impact in her films. Marina believes that a good filmmaker should find the reality before making a film, that is, the reality of what one is filming. She also shared her thought about how to work with protagonists by building a connection, allow a certain level of manipulative technique to open up protagonists, and utilize the rhythms of editing, filming and music to the full extent.”
Apart from attending the animated film sessions, Ashleigh took the opportunity to watch several documentaries including ‘Looking Like My Mother’ by Dominique Margot, “Pavlensky – Man and Might” by Irene Langemann and “The Ivory Game” by Richard Ladkani and Kief Davidson.
Ashleigh told us that “All in all, I had a very fruitful and inspiring experience at DOK Leipzig and Networking Days. I really think I’ve come to the right place! Thank you for giving me the opportunity!”