Since 2011, the Borneo Eco Film Festival’s Suara Community Filmmaking Programme has benefited from the support of a pool of creative industry professionals who donate their time to act as trainers and mentors in workshops and tutorials. Several of these trainers maintain their involvement to this day, and have developed friendships with many of the community filmmaking participants
A passionate and detailed worker and a ‘quiet type’. What began as a hobby of taking pictures, Aaron Tan turned to studying filmmaking and now finds himself in production roles ranging from producer and cinematographer to directing content for a variety of outlets and clients. Aaron likes to get things done right and believes that there isn’t a shortcut for everything. His strengths include an adaptable visual vocabulary and a flair for working with rhythms. He enjoys bouncing ideas, drawing inspiration from the unconventional and collaborating with others in trying new and innovative methods and skills. Aaron’s recent credits include music videos for home-grown bands like Love Me Butch, Bittersweet and more.
Andy Chia first started filming as an underwater videographer though it was his interest in filming weddings and events that eventually persuaded him to get out of the water. Still in the deep end, Andy improves himself by hard work, a keen eye, lots of observations, and by learning and dipping into online resources for the latest knowledge and technology in filming. He runs DeeBee Studio focusing on events, weddings and project filming as well as Schizo Stars which focuses on underwater, aerial and documentary filming.
Eight years ago, Anthony Lam was a network administrator in Information Technology, working from eight to five, six days a week. One day, he realised this was not what he wanted and left Malaysia for New Zealand to see the world, where he rediscovered his long-lost love for photography. He is a fast learner, and in a short period of time he learned a lot. Upon returning to Malaysia, he entered the world of wedding photography progressing swiftly to videography. From there, he delved into filmmaking and started to work on short films, advertisements, television shows and music videos. In 2014, he had a small achievement at the Kota Kinabalu International Film Festival where he won the KKIFF 2014 Jury Awards for the short film “I’m Sorry”.
A graphic designer by education, Beatrice Leong is a lover of experiences with a curious nature – venturing into documentary filmmaking was a natural shift for her. She has worked on the documentary “Haze Hell Over Asia”, which aired on the History Channel, and subsequently independently produced and co-directed “Tap That! Of Water Land & Us”, which has been screened at various film festivals. She is furthering film and new media for community engagement and outreach to advocate issues and matters closest to her heart and is currently working on two new documentary projects on land rights issues in East Malaysia and foreign workers in Malaysia. She believes that all voices should be heard and for those who cannot be heard, we must find a way bring them forward.
Chris Chong is a Sabahan-born filmmaker and artist focusing on unconventional stories and experimentation between cinema and visual arts. He is a Ford Foundation fellow and became the first Malaysian director to be invited to Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight in 14 years for his international award-winning work ‘Karaoke’. His experimental work, ‘Block B’ won the best film prizes in Toronto and Argentina, and in 2010, the work was the first ever Malaysian artwork exhibited at the Smithsonian Institute and subsequently purchased into their exclusive collection. Chris’ most recent project was a Yokohama city commissioned work, ‘Heavenhell’, based on master film director Akira Kurosawa.
Eva Emmanyna Zahar is a professional film editor from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She has close to 10 years’ experience working in the Malaysian film industry, and has edited a diverse range of documentary and fictional pieces for broadcasters such as the Discovery Channel. She is also an actor, and has featured in several Malaysian television dramas as well as regularly appearing on stage in Kuala Lumpur.
Evangeline Majawat is a freelance writer who spent over a decade in Smoke CIty, aka KL. She has written for Yahoo! Malaysia, Malay Mail, The Jakarta Post and various magazines. She was formerly a reporter with the New Straits Times before joining Media Prima Digital as special projects executive, where she designed and executed social media campaigns. She loves yoga almost as much as she loves reading.
Flanegan Bainon was born and raised in Malaysian Borneo, a very mysterious island which has shaped his curiosity and unconventional way of thinking. He started out as a Graphic Designer before furthering his studies in Photography at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University, Australia. Seeking new challenges, Flanegan moved to Tokyo, Japan, where he assisted Hiraga Masaaki and later worked as a photographer for d’ArC Model and Factory Management. This has changed his aesthetic and inspired his shift towards Portraiture photography. The simplicity and minimalism of his work is a reflection of his appreciation of all forms of life.
A Sabahan, Genevieve Duis is a producer based in Kuala Lumpur. She has had the privilege of working on several different projects in the six years that she has been working in the film industry. In the past she has worked on programs for Astro, AETN and NTV7. She founded a web channel, northborneo.tv with the hopes to contribute to a sustainable industry for the film and arts industry in Sabah. Today, she heads a film production company focusing on issues close to her heart such as, documentaries dealing with ethnic tribes and Sabahan cultures, as well as films that stand apart from mainstream Malaysian films. As a Suara trainer, Genevieve works alongside her colleagues Mortigou Labunda, Lim Pik Gan andAnas Aiman Husyn.
Genevieve Lee is a Singapore-based editor with a love of documentaries. Over the past 12 years, she has edited factual programmes for a wide variety of international channels, including Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel, and History Channel, as well as independent long-form projects. Working with themes ranging from history to technology, travel to personal stories, editing allows her to explore the power of storytelling, while learning from the people whose stories she helps to tell. While she has also edited commercials, dramas, features, and the occasional music video, Gen has always had a passion for documentaries for their power to inspire and ignite.
Documentaries she has edited have won multiple awards at the Asian Television Awards, and she is honoured to have been part of dynamic teams with vision and insight.
Novista’s founder Harun Rahman is an avid documentary filmmaker with more than 20 years’ experience. He majored in film production at Minnesota, then pursued a career in film and television. He has directed and filmed many award winning productions both domestically and internationally including “Among the Great Apes with Michelle Yeoh” for National Geographic Channel, winner for best wildlife film at the Asian Television Awards and Malaysian Documentary Awards 2010, “On Borrowed Time”, Best Film at the Malaysian Eco Film Fest, “Temengor – Biodiversity in the Face of Danger”, Best Documentary at the Malaysian Film Festival 1998. Harun is currently a supervising producer for the Malaysian Film Board’s (Finas) “Malaysia to the World 2011” initiative and currently working on a production for a new History Channel documentary to be aired early next year.
Helmi Hamren (“Jimy”) is a soundman based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He has been working in the industry since 1993. He has worked on various projects which include commercials, TC dramas and documentaries for local and international production houses. Some of his work has been screened on the National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, NHK, ESPN, and Fuji TV. Award winner for Sound Design on Malayan Emergency for History Channel at Profima Award Night 2010.
Ikhwan Rivai has worked in factual programming for more than 5 years. He directed his début documentary, The Seasmiths which was part of Discovery’s Eye on Malaysia series. Over the years Ikhwan has worked on various productions for channels such as the History Channel, Crime & Investigation Network, Discovery Channel, Travel & Living and National Geographic Channel.
Jenny Sanem hails from the remote village of Buayan, Penampang, situated in the upper reaches of the Papar River in the Crocker Range, Sabah. In 2007, Jenny started working as a community researcher with the Global Diversity Foundation, where she learned how to use different research methods and visual techniques to document and understand the relationships between her community and their surrounding environment. Over the years, Jenny has worked with her community to monitor how they use and manage forest resources, and shares their stories through photography and community filmmaking.
Jenny regularly conducts talks on the biocultural values of Ulu Papar, the valley where her village is located, facilitates community activities, and trains other community members in techniques such as participatory mapping and community filmmaking. She has been a trainer for SUARA’s beginner-level community filmmaking workshops since its inception in 2011.
Melissa Leong is a storyteller. She started her career in journalism with New Sabah Times and went on to become a copywriter before earning her stripes as the Editor of ͚Sabah Malaysian Borneo͛– Sabah Tourism Board͛s official monthly (now bi-monthly) publication. In between, Melissa – whose writing experience spans more than 20 years – is a freelance writer and has written for Life & Times (New Straits Times), The Hilt, Jetstar’sinflight magazine and Asiandivingvacation.com among others. Melissa also runs a creative media solutions business, Muse & Hues, with her husband, a 3D artist and illustrator, Lim Sheng Haw.
Mohd. Jeffri Mohd. Yusof is a self-taught Director of Photography. He learnt the art of cinematography from working in the film industry and from cinema itself. With the right tools and knowledge, he believes films will not only entertain audiences but reach into their hearts and minds. His first real breakthrough was in 2001 with “Song of the Stork”, a Vietnamese film that won the Best Film at the 2002 Milano Film Festival. This came after decades of learning the trade from his humble beginnings as an assistant cameraman. Jeff has since worked on films such as “Puteri Gunung Ledang” and “The Sleeping Dictionary”. He believes that the world is always for the youth and he regularly speaks at seminars giving his views on life and sharing his experience.
In 2012, Nizam Andan started as a participant in the Suara Community Filmmaking Programme and completed his first film ͞Sunken Graves͟ in 2013. He has been invited to screen his films at festivals in Myanmar, Nepal and Canada, and has won filmmaking grants from Malaysia͛s Freedom Film Festival. With a background in graphic design and experience in community organising, Nizam has been developing his skills as a Suara trainer since 2015. In April 2017, Nizam has taken up the full-time position of Suara Coordinator and will be responsible for visiting participants in their home communities to provide ongoing technical support.
Upon graduating film school, Nagi Maganti found herself like most film school graduates, completely clueless. She was soon introduced to the world of motion graphics which helped her combine her two loves, film and design. She now works as a multi-disciplinary designer whose work comprises motion graphics, illustration, identities and data visualisation and counts National Geographic, Discovery Channel and History Channel amongst her clients. Her favourite aspect of working in design is the challenge of having to combine creativity with functionality to solve a brief, a challenge that presents itself differently with every job and keeps her on her toes.
Remmy Alfie Awang is a community filmmaker and researcher based in his home village of Bundu Tuhan, Ranau, located at the southern foothills of Mount Kinabalu. From 2009 to 2012, Remmy worked as a community researcher with the Global Diversity Foundation, where he was involved in a number of projects to build grassroots capacity and promote community-based conservation in Sabah.
Today, Remmy works with a team of Bundu Tuhan community researchers to run their own community-based projects that engage directly with their community to protect and conserve their community forest, document cultural and traditional heritage sites and revitalise traditional customary practices. They have made a number of short films to document and share their stories, and have used their community-made films to successfully apply for grants. Remmy also trains other community members in his village and elsewhere in participatory photography and community filmmaking techniques.
Rubby Emir is the Founder and Executive Director of Saujana, a non-profit organisation based in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Saujana uses innovative media, arts and technological approaches to help socially disadvantaged indigenous groups from across Indonesia. His vision is a world in which indigenous communities are able to overcome endemic social obstacles and voice grassroots concerns through the use of appropriate media and technology. As part of Rubby’s work amongst communities in Indonesia and elsewhere, he makes extensive use of Participatory Video (PV) techniques, and has been a PV practitioner since 2009. In addition to using PV methods with communities, Rubby and Saujana work to provide aid to the mentally and physically impaired, and Rubby is involved with the humanitarian and disaster relief efforts of organisations such as the Danish Red Cross. He is also the founder of the website Kerjalibitas.com.
Seok Wun Au Yong is a filmmaker and underwater cinematographer. Originally from Kuala Lumpur, Seok moved to Sabah in 2004 to work as a scuba instructor for 2 years before she began her filming career by working as underwater videographer in 2006. Since then, she continues to work on her skills on all aspects of filmmaking including producing, directing, writing and editing. In 2013, she received a grant to study filmmaking in New York Film Academy, USA. She has since worked as director, writer, editor, topside and underwater photographer & videographer for various projects including corporate videos, documentaries, short and feature films. One of her film ‘Angmo & Amoi’, a feature length mockumentary (in which she played multiple roles as co-director, co-writer, editor and actress) has been screened on several film festivals in Philippines and USA. She is currently working as the creative director of Lkwid Productions, where she runs underwater imaging studios on islands around Sabah and is always working on her next film projects.
Syukrie Hassan has over 15 years of video photography experience starting with drama and telemovie productions for local broadcasters such as RTM and Media Prima. He has since moved on to specialise in factual programming mainly documentaries and travel shows for international networks such as Discovery Channel, Travel & Living Channel and History Channel. Some of his documentary credits include the Passage to Malaysia series on Travel and Living Channel, both the Eye on Malaysia and first Time Filmmakers series for Discovery Channel as well as the Mad Made Marvels series on Discovery Channel. He was also nominated for Best Director of Photography twice at the Asian TV Awards 2011 and 2012 for the Passage to Malaysia Sabah episode.
Known to many as too happy for a KL-ite, Vini Balan graduated with an achievement award from Limkokwing University in Film & Broadcasting. Her first job was with a local food network which led to her interest in food, shooting and traveling beyond her imagination and has grown into many different fields such as film, animation, events, social media and advertising. Growing up in several different states in Malaysia, the dusty Kuala Lumpur has been the stepping ground for her collection of strange photography which at one point only consisted of her feet and the feet of strangers she met while traveling abroad. That oddness got her a place in the first Malaysian Mobile Photography exhibition and from then on continued to expand her knowledge by freelancing for the creative industry with other crazy creatives.
Zan Azlee Zainal Abidin is a journalist, documentary filmmaker, writer and academician. He is currently Editor/Executive Producer for Magazine Programmes, at ASTRO Awani, a columnist at The Malaysian Insider and lectures at various universities in Kuala Lumpur. He has made documentaries in conflict areas such as Afghanistan, Lebanon, Syria and Southern Thailand. He specialises in solo-journalism (one-man-crew-production). Zan Azlee has won the Best Documentary Awards at the Anugerah Seri Angkasa and Festival Filem Malaysia.