The Suara Roadshow to Kuala Lumpur and Penang was held for the first time from the 9th to the 15th of August 2017. The Kuala Lumpur event was on the 11th of August at Mercu UEM in Sentral, while the Penang event was on the 14th of August at the UAB Building in George Town. The programmes for each event was prepared in collaboration with colleagues at Yayasan Hasanah and ThinkCity and featured a collection of community-made films produced through the Borneo Eco Film Festival’s (BEFF’s) Suara Community Filmmaking Programme over the years.
Ten community-made films were screened to urban audiences in Kuala Lumpur, while only five films were screened at Penang due to the limited time available. The objective of the roadshow was to share stories about Sabah made by the communities who live them, while providing a platform for an open discussion between filmmakers and the audience on the various issues portrayed in the films. The roadshow also aimed to bridge social gaps and realities and create a better understanding between communities in Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia.
A total of ten films were screened organized into two sets. Set 1 showcased films made from ‘zero to three days’, which is the process participants experience during a Suara training workshop. Over the space of three days, participants from all over Sabah are placed in mixed groups and work together to develop a story and produce a completed film by the end of the workshop. Some of the best examples of films produced through this process were selected for this set and presented at the Kuala Lumpur event.
- Jejantas (4 mins)
Filmed on the streets of Kota Kinabalu, this documentary short explores the hidden lives of rural indigenous peoples who have moved from remote villages to the capital, and make a living selling traditional produce and handicrafts on the city’s “Jejantas”, or overpasses
- Kebakaran di Kg. Bangau Bangau (5 mins)
In early 2015, the large urban settlement of Kg. Bangau-Bangau in Semporna suffered two separate and catastrophic fires, which razed the homes of the vast majority of residents. Shot three months after the event, this film examines the how the displaced villagers struggle to adapt to life in makeshift camps and cope with an uncertain future.
- Pantai Kita (4 mins)
Tanjung Aru beach has been a favourite local landmark for generations of local Sabahans, but in recent years has come under threat from a large scale commercial development project. The history of the beach and the potential negative impacts of the project are discussed by Mr. S.M. Muthu – a local environmental activist who advocates that Tanjung Aru should be preserved as a natural space for the benefit of Kota Kinabalu residents and all visitors to Sabah.
- Bobohizan Sukod Vagu (4 mins)
A “Bobohizan” or “Bobolian” is the name given to a traditional healer and spirit medium by the Kadazan-Dusun people. With increasing modernization and the rapid cultural erosion among Sabah’s indigenous peoples, the traditional knowledge of Bobohizans is fast disappearing. This film explores the motivations and aspirations of a young Kadazan man, who is learning the skills of the Bobohizan in order to keep this knowledge alive for future generations.
- Ensera (3.5 mins)
This short documentary is a character study of Eleanor Goroh, a local indigenous entrepreneur who learned from her ancestors traditional methods of making beads from natural resources. The film explores Eleanor’s dream of sharing beautiful Sabahan handicrafts with the wider world.
Set 2 featured short films that were made by community filmmakers in their own time and shot on location in their own communities. These films showcase how participants apply the skills they have learnt from the Suara workshops to work with their home communities on a story that is important for them, and produce a short film in time for the final workshop usually held in September each year. The resulting films are considered community-made and community-owned films and represent successful impacts of Suara’s training programme. Five films were selected to be screened at both the Kuala Lumpur and Penang events. Films were introductions by the community filmmakers followed by a panel discussion:
- Sunken Graves (8 mins), presented by Mohd Nizam Bin Andan, BEFF
Tampasak was a small village located in Penampang, Sabah. It was home to a vibrant indigenous community who fulfilled their daily needs with natural resources in this undulating landscape. In the 1980s this area was identified as the site for the Babagon Dam. Although the villagers protested against the building of the dam, they eventually complied and moved to a new area set aside by the government. But they did not manage to move everything in time. A number of graves could not be relocated because they were so old that the identities of the deceased were no longer known. To this day, the graves remain submerged and inaccessible beneath the water, a poignant reminder of a community’s lost link to their ancestry.
- Jenny with New Baby (8 mins), presented by Berjaya Bin Elahan, Hutan, Kinabatangan
- Mastal Arikik (2 mins), presented by Roziah Binti Jaladid & Nurulisma Binti Mansula, WAPO, Semporna
- Kisah Budak Jalanan (7 mins), presented by Darwis Bin Habir, Green Semporna, Semporna.
- Harapan di Pinggir Muara (6.5 mins), presented by Najib Bin Ramsa, Kg. Dagat, Lahad Datu & Mohd. Faijan Mustapah, KOPEL, Kinabatangan
Kg. Dagat is located in the lower reaches of the Segama River, which is part of Sabah’s largest RAMSAR site. The Tidong community who live here have long relied on freshwater fisheries for livelihood. Several years ago, an aid agency initiated a community-based ecotourism project to enhance the livelihoods and the project’s activities turned this community into a vibrant and frequently visited hub. This film revisits the community many years after the ecotourism project has ended. The closure of the ecotourism scheme led to the relocation of the village and community members are left with a sense of helplessness and despair.
Find out more about Suara Community Filmmaking