FreedomFilmFest (FFF), Malaysia’s leading human rights documentary film festival, will take place virtually for the very first time from 10 – 13 December 2020.

Facing a global pandemic, the Freedom Film Network (FFN) has adapted this year’s festival to become an online event to ensure that it can continue to bring its audience the unseen, unheard, and untold stories that matter – in the safest way possible.

This year’s festival, titled ‘Bangsa: Manusia‘ (‘Race: Human), will premiere eight brand new films from Malaysia, and one from Singapore, which bravely tackle issues of identity and representation, alongside a selection of socially conscious films from Singapore. 

Amongst the lineup of films are stories, which challenge prejudice and stereotypes faced by groups often overlooked and underrepresented in mainstream media.

“These voices have been left out and ignored in the national discourse, often drowned out by the more dominant discourse of race and religion in our country,” said Anna Har, Executive Director at FFN.

“Through FFF, they have an opportunity to voice out their own perspectives and hopes and more importantly to be treated as human beings with equal rights,” she added.

In ‘Meniti Senja‘ (‘The Twilight Years’), first-time filmmaker and gerontologist, Lily Fu (72) explores the alarming rise in cases of elderly persons being left at aged care homes in Malaysia.

The film focuses on the residents of Rumah Jagaan Orang Tua Al-Ikhlas and its compassionate founder Puan Muji. An eye-opening documentary for anyone who has not considered the subject of ageing.

Delving into Malaysia’s criminal justice system is ‘Ayahku, Dr. G’ by Loh Jo Yee and Hidayah Hisham. In a country where possession of cannabis is punishable with death, Siti finds herself pulled into the unfamiliar world of lengthy legal proceedings and prison visits when her 60-year-old father is arrested for using medical cannabis to treat his chronic illnesses.

Nasir Jani Melawan Lembaga Puaka’ by Arian Md Zahari, follows rebel filmmaker Nasir Jani as he reflects on the mind-boggling system of film censorship in Malaysia, alongside a new generation of filmmakers.

The film explores how censorship is used to suppress identities and viewpoints that those in power believe threaten the official narrative, including by sanitizing the image of rockstars and deleting LGBTQ+ characters from storylines.

Further challenging negative stereotypes is ‘Petani Bukan Pemalas’ (‘Farmers Are Not Idlers’) by Nurfitri Amir. The documentary offers a rare perspective from traditional paddy farmers and their struggles to uphold their rights by promoting seed saving practice and food sovereignty.

And ‘The Shades of Love’ by Singaporean filmmaker Jessica Lee, which amplifies the voices of Singapore’s sex workers and utilises soundscapes and images, as an intimate way to portray the humans behind the work.

FFF is also premiere two fiction films from indigenous women who rarely see themselves represented in mainstream media – ‘Selai Kayu Yek’ (‘Roots Of My Land’) and ‘Klinik Ku Hutan’ (‘The Forest, My Clinic’).

The films, which tackle issues of indigenous rights and identity, are the result of a two-year participatory film project with young Orang Asli women from across Peninsular Malaysia.

Another film not to be missed is Norhayati Kaprawi’s first foray into clay puppet animation, ‘SULOH‘, which follows the story of Kak Ton who finds an inspiring and creative way to rebuild her life after being left by her polygamous husband.

Members of the public can also look forward to FFF’s exciting and dynamic post-screening discussions for an opportunity to interact with filmmakers and film protagonists. Not forgetting, there will be specially-curated talks hosted by FFN partners from across Malaysia and Singapore, which put a local perspective on this year’s theme.

The festival will run online via the streaming platform CloudTheatre. Tickets and screening dates will be available on the website from 1 December. For more information, click here.

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