Tech Tales: Films about Digital Rights in the Asia-Pacific

The year 2020 has proved challenging for digital rights in the Asia-Pacific. The region saw not only a general increase in state surveillance and the stifling of free expression, but also digital rights violations such as internet shutdowns in Myanmar, disinformation and attacks on online activism in the Philippines, and the doxxing of protesters in Indonesia and Thailand.

These violations continue to occur in 2021, especially as people increasingly spend time online and the internet is seen as essential to personal and professional lives. Media, in all forms, should play a critical role in raising awareness on these issues. However, there has not been enough visual media that tackles digital rights and security issues particular to the region’s context, especially ones available in regional languages.

To address this, EngageMedia worked with eight filmmakers across the Asia-Pacific to produce short films on the region’s pressing digital rights issues. Their films comprise the Tech Tales film collection that highlights human rights stories in the digital age. These films employ various storytelling forms and tools, from narrative fiction, documentary format to animation. They will also be used for advocacy and training.

The films cover stories on online surveillance in India, Malaysia and Thailand; data privacy and online gender-based violence in Indonesia; massive disinformation campaigns in Myanmar and the Philippines; online freedom of expression in Cambodia and Malaysia; and digital sovereignty in the whole region

The full film collection was launched on October 30, 2021, alongside celebrations of World Internet Day, and will be showcased at various festivals and community screenings within and across the Asia-Pacific.

For interested screening and media partners, please refer to the Opportunities for Tech Tales Partners section below.

Tech Tales Film Collection

Black Out
In the aftermath of the 2021 Myanmar coup, the country is faced with state-mandated internet and information blackouts. Hnin, a single mother, and Mon, her daughter and an anti-coup protester, are among those who can no longer access the internet at home. In their pursuit of news on what is happening on the ground, they find only fabricated stories and unreliable information.
My Clouded Mind
Naura, 19, ended her long-distance relationship after her boyfriend reveals the other side of him that leads to the leaking of compromising images of her. Today, she grapples with the trauma of that incident, and fights to find more reasons to face a new day.
Peer to Peer
What can we learn from poets and coders who engineered a parallel internet that, by 1992, had email servers running in 72 countries? Peer to Peer’ is a deep-dive into data sovereignty and decentralised data flows as described by two generations of information communication rights peers.
Not Love Songs
A young Cambodian rapper is given a choice: apologize for his music that champions social justice, or face imprisonment under a sweeping law commonly used by the government to silence freedom of expression.
Panulukan (Crossroads)
Can a journey across the Philippines make us question our direction as the preservers of truth, no matter what we think, decide, and believe?
Appa and His Invisible Mundu
Kuri thinks her father is a superhero, who can turn invisible with the help of his ‘mundu’. But when Appa faces Dineshan, the Great Eye in the Sky – a metaphor for state-based surveillance and digital oppression – he ends up losing his life and livelihood. How will Appa overcome the great villain?
Pattani Calling
To get a SIM card in insurgency-hit southern Thailand, you have to have your face scanned. Because of this, thousands of Malay Muslims are forgoing mobile communications and becoming biosecurity rebels against the state.
The Offensive Internet
In 2019, Malaysia’s internet penetration was at 90 percent, with almost all of the population possessing mobile phones and also on social media. However, the Malaysian government has been clamping down on critical voices in the internet, using its Communications and Multimedia Act to block websites and imprison individuals for sharing information critical of the government.

Opportunities for Tech Tales Partnerships

EngageMedia is actively looking for Tech Tales screening, media, and advocacy partners who we can work together with to co-host screenings in the Asia-Pacific, and who can promote the and spread the word on the film collection. We are also open to unique partnerships to ensure that the collection can be viewed by as many people as possible.

1. Community Screening Partner

Community screening partners will be able to access and show the Tech Tales film collection ahead of the films’ more permanent release on Cinemata.

Screening partners can choose to co-host the launch, as well as subsequent select screenings, and provide reactors during relevant forums and talkback sessions with the filmmakers and audiences in the region.

Screening partners will appear in all publicity materials for Tech Tales, which will be screened and distributed across the Asia-Pacific.

2. Media and Outreach Partner

Media and outreach partners are collaborators who will help us ensure that the Tech Tales film collection and its screenings are widely disseminated to audiences through their respective media and engagement platforms.

For media partners on community screenings, media partners should have the capacity to invite at least 20 audience members who may benefit from the overall message and rationale of Tech Tales. Media partners should also promote the screening to their locality and networks.

Like screening partners, media partners will be included in all publicity materials for the Tech Tales film collection when appropriate.

3. Advocacy Partner

Advocacy partners can use the Tech Tales film collection to additionally promote and support their projects and line of work. The Tech Tales film collection, along with corresponding articles detailing the digital rights issues tackled per film, is meant to be used to more effectively advocate for digital rights in the region.

Advocacy partners will be included in all publicity materials for the Tech Tales film collection when appropriate.

4. Educational Partner

Educational partners are collaborators who specifically work in academic institutions, and who wish to incorporate the Tech Tales films into their respective curriculum, class, or coursework. Such partners will ensure that the youth are given the chance to learn more about digital rights, whether in their country or in the region as a whole.

Each film already has a corresponding article giving context to the digital rights issue(s) presented, as accompanying research. EngageMedia can also work together with educational partners on talkbacks with the films’ directors.

5. Other Partnership Opportunities

EngageMedia is always open to discuss other meaningful ways of collaboration. Creative ideas on how to share these films to wider audiences in these pandemic times are highly welcome. Please do not hesitate to reach out to Engage Media Video Lead, King Catoy to discuss more opportunities. Each film already has a corresponding article giving context to the digital rights issue(s) presented, as accompanying research. EngageMedia can also work together with educational partners on talkbacks with the films’ directors.

Frequently Asked Questions

The collection will be ready for public viewing on 30 October 2021.

The public launch of Tech Tales, along with a talkback with the directors, will be held online. After subsequent viewings in collaborations with our screening partners, the films will then be available on Cinemata, a platform for social issues films about the Asia-Pacific. More information on the screening details will be available closer to the launch date. All screenings will be free of charge.

Yes, at least one or two filmmakers will be present during full screenings. If a screening or outreach partner is interested in inviting particular filmmakers, it is possible to arrange that with EngageMedia.

Contact Person: King Catoy, EngageMedia Video Lead, at [email protected].

Opportunities for Tech Tales Screening and Media Partners

EngageMedia is actively looking for Tech Tales screening and media partners who we can work together with to co-host screenings in the Asia-Pacific and conduct outreach efforts to spread the word on the collection. We are also open to unique partnerships to ensure that the collection can be viewed by as many people as possible.

1. Why should I become a screening partner for Tech Tales?

Screening partners will be able to access and show the Tech Tales film collection ahead of the films’ more permanent release on Cinemata.

Screening partners can choose to co-host the launch, as well as subsequent select screenings, and provide reactors during relevant forums and talkback sessions with the filmmakers and audiences in the region.

Screening partners will appear in all publicity materials for Tech Tales, which will be screened and distributed across the Asia-Pacific.

2. What is expected from outreach partners?

Media partners should have the capacity to invite at least 30 audience members who may benefit from the overall message and rationale of Tech Tales.

Media partners should also promote the screening to their locality and networks.

Like screening partners, media partners will be included in all publicity materials for the Tech Tales film collection.

3. What if I want to collaborate with EngageMedia, but not as a screening or media partner?

EngageMedia is always open to discuss other meaningful ways of collaboration. Creative ideas on how to share these films to wider audiences in these pandemic times are highly welcome. Please do not hesitate to reach out to Engage Media Video Lead, King Catoy to discuss more opportunities.

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