A film festival, especially one like the Freedom Film Festival (FFF), held in a country where people are still fighting for political and social change deserve recognition. Organizing an event is not an easy to accomplish.
Malaysia is one of many countries where activists trying to spread humanitarian messages through audio-visual media face many obstacles. According to independent human rights organisation SUARAM, in 2009 alone, the Malaysian government detained some 1,000 people for involvement in political activism. Given the risks involved, I have great respect for Komas and the volunteers who have been carrying out this event since 2004.
The winner of the 2010 festival was “Hak Dinafikan/Rights Denied“, a video about the struggle for the rights of indigenous peoples in Malaysia. The film, made by Yuk Chopil and Shafie bin Idris, depicts one of the many struggles to democratize the country. Other notable films screened at the festival include Loo Que Lin’s inspiring call for a new student movement.
Another video that screened at FFF that did not take part in the competition, but that still has a strong human rights message was “Mencari Kartika/Looking for Kartika“. This video, produced and directed by Norhayati Kaprawi, tells the story of Kartika, a Muslim woman who was sentenced to be whipped, fined and imprisoned for drinking beer, and who is angry at the Syariah system that sentenced her.
These are just my reflections after attending the FFF in Kuala Lumpur. The festival continued in Johor Bahru (23 October), Miri / Sarawak (31 October), and Georgetown (13 & 14 November). We would love to hear reports from people who were able to attend these other events.