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Featured Filmmaker: Sathis Kumar Krishnan

Sathis Kumar Krishnan is a citizen journalist from Penang, Malaysia. He has produced over 140 videos and has won the best video award from CJMY for two consecutive years.
Sathis Kumar Krishnan

Name: Sathis Kumar Krishnan


Location: Penang, Malaysia

About: I was born and raised in Ipoh, Perak. I'm working full time as a primary school teacher under the Education Ministry. And I'm also a part-time volunteer as a citizen journalist with Citizen Journals Malaysia ( since 2010. Apart from that I've also been an independent Tamil blogger since 2007 and have been actively involved in grassroots issues pertaining to social injustice and marginalisation of the poor.

Recent work:

In your own words

EngageMedia (EM): Tell us who you are as a filmmaker.

Sathis Kumar Krishnan (SKK): Basically, film-making is my passion and my attachment to Citizen Journalists Malaysia (CJMY) as a volunteer has helped spur my passion further as it is a serious platform for citizens like me to highlight issues faced by the ordinary people of this country. In the course of the production of a film, we get to change lives, and that is very important to me.

Serious violations on human rights and marginalisation of the poor have been the content of my films. My reason for focusing on these issues is that I hope that my stories may bring relative changes to their lives and to subsequently cause a change in the system as it has been reason for their oppression.

EM: How did you come to video as a medium? Why do you work with the moving image?

SKK: I started my video making in 2005 at college while undergoing practical training in a Tamil school in Johor. My assignment was to produce a video for the school building fund-raising dinner. A huge fund was collected and my video was instrumental in achieving this and I realised how much video can cause a significant impact.

I feel that moving images reflects and reaches the emotion, and is able to transmute facts in its genuine form and it has the capacity to create a bond between the viewers and the contents.

Just like in movies, documentaries, and short-films, the interaction between the viewer and the content cannot be directed. The possibility of transformation is endless. For example, a film might mitigate change in such a way that one becomes more conscious towards senior citizens, or decide to make a donation, or bring a parent back from an old folks home, or decide never to be a helpless old person, or uses the content to educate – or just does noting at all but tells the story to another who chooses differently because of the story they heard about.

We as film-makers will never know the impact of our stories but this makes it all the more exciting.

EM: What are the main issues you address in your video work?

SKK: I am particularly attached to issues representing human rights and the marginalised poor. Issues which I mostly covered were temple demolition, statelessness, land grabbing, educational discrimination, religious conversion and the like.

Issues like these receive little or no limelight from the main-stream media and the people who are going through these issues have it hard. Their problems are real and the suffering they go through is immense. I feel it is my duty to help them by documenting their stories.

EM: We saw your videos about Indian cultural and political rights, please tell us a bit about this and why you choose this?

SKK: Personally, I have seen and experienced the issues of injustice against the Indian minority poor, and I think these issues are ignored and not given attention by those in authority. Moreover, mass media such as television, newspapers, do not dare to address issues involving human rights violations against minorities. The Hindraf rally in 2007 opened my eyes about the seriousness of the oppression under the current system. I really want to highlight the implications of the system for the public to seek justice for the injustices which have been practised for years and which need to be rectified for the future of the nation.

EM: Tell us about the favourite piece of video you have made, in regards to social justice or the environment.

SKK: Almost all of my videos are my favorite, because I’ll only make a video on issues which I feel are important. One video I made (Remnants of life in a container) about a senior citizen who lives in a container for the last four years, received good response from the public, and many have come forward to help him, including the local assemblyman and welfare department. These little acts of helping mean a lot to me. I am sure it has improved the lives of the senior citizen too.

EM: How do you think online distribution is changing the field of independent video making? How do you use online tools in your work?

SKK: Independent video journalists like me are very dependent on online sharing because it is quick and efficient in delivering news to our target audience. I usually will upload my videos into YouTube and Vimeo and embed the video on the news portal and share the link in Facebook, Google, Yahoo groups, and others. Lately, I have been using Universal Subtitles for my videos, to subtitle my videos in English and Malay.

The trick is to make sure a wide audience can access ones video. Once we have a strong following then I am sure the task of looking for an audience reduces over time.


If you know of any interesting filmmakers around Asia Pacific you’d like to see featured on, write to us today!