Two community-made documentaries were shown for the first time to a public audience at the Sabah Forestry Department’s Centenary celebrations this week. The films, entitled “Tradisi yang Diwarisi” and “Manik Rungus” are part of a batch of films made during the Borneo Eco Film Festival’s (BEFF) Suara Community Filmmaking Workshop, which was held from 29 October to 2 November 2014 at the Kota Kinabalu District Forestry Office in Lok Kawi.
Chiwon Chin, BEFF Board member, said that 40 participants from 24 villages and towns from 11 districts across Sabah gathered for the workshop. “For some participants, it was the first time they used a DSLR camera. The ideas for the stories came from them and they worked with fierce passion and dedication over five days to make these films. We are very proud of all of them.”
“I know the participants are thrilled that two of their films premiered at the Sabah Forestry Department’s Centenary celebrations. We thank the Sabah Forestry Department for their support in enabling community filmmakers to share their stories at this auspicious event,” he said.
The first film, “Tradisi yang Diwarisi”, screened on Monday 10 November, was made by a group of five community members and features a young indigenous man from a traditional village in the forests of northern Sabah. Now living in an urban area, running a local market stall he inherited from his mother, his story of venturing beyond his home village and forests is a familiar one with which many young Sabahans can relate.
The second film, “Manik Rungus”, made by a group of seven community members, tells the story of the intricate traditional beadwork of the Rungus community, which is embedded with motifs inspired by forest plants and cultural stories. Today, these beads come far from the remote forested villages where they are made by indigenous artisans to be sold in shopping malls and tourism centres, and they are now an enduring symbol of Sabah’s identity and heritage.
Elaine Kong, BEFF Board member, said that Suara Community Filmmaking is a special BEFF programme that works with indigenous and local communities, and their partners, to harness the power of film to tell Sabah’s stories about our natural and cultural heritage.
“BEFF is organised by the voluntary society Melapi comprised of a small group of people who are keen on seeing more stories about Borneo’s nature and culture told through the lenses of Sabahans.”
“Given our commitment to ensuring Suara and BEFF remain free-of-charge to local participants and the general public, the generous support of Sabah’s tourism industry – which provided more than 80% of Suara’s sponsorship this year – is laudable and absolutely essential to its continued success,” she said. “This is a welcome indication of the burgeoning culture of corporate social responsibility in Malaysia, which we hope continues to grow and support important community-based programmes like Suara in the coming years.”
The main sponsors for the Suara Community Filmmaking Programme this year are the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment Sabah, US Embassy Kuala Lumpur, Sabah Forestry Department, Best Western Kinabalu Daya Hotel.