Emerging Community Filmmakers from Borneo

At this year’s Borneo Eco Film Festival (BEFF), held 28-30 September 2012, GDF co-hosted the festival’s SUARA Community Filmmaking programme. Here, 41 indigenous community filmmakers from 9 districts across Sabah joined 8 community filmmakers from Yayasan Sabah, Sabah State Library, WWF-Malaysia and the KadazanDusun Language Foundation to share, learn and develop their filmmaking skills through hands-on interaction with professional filmmakers and each other. 


SUARA was first launched during BEFF 2011 with a one-day introductory community filmmaking workshop for a group of 15 participants. This year, SUARA (the Malay word for “voice”) expanded into a year-long community filmmaking training programme with field workshops, and talks and workshops held during the Festival, organised as SUARA PUBLIKA and SUARA KOMUNITI.


SUARA PUBLIKA communicated a wealth of information through public talks and presentations. Documentary filmmakers Harun Rahman and Zan Azlee Zainal Abidin shared valuable technical and practical points on documentary filmmaking, representatives from some of Sabah’s pioneering NGOs delivered talks focused on the festival’s central theme of Community Conservation in Action, and, participants were taken on an exploratory journey to discover Borneo through sight, sound, touch, taste and smell in the speaker series entitled Sensing Borneo.

saw workshops held in the field and during the Festival. Two three-day training workshops for indigenous community filmmakers from the villages of Sukau and Batu Puteh were held in Sukau in May and July this year.


Two parallel workshops were held during the Film Festival, catering to different levels of expertise and experience. The Sensing Borneo Workshop, for intermediate to advanced indigenous and local community filmmakers, was facilitated by filmmakers Harun Rahman, Zan Azlee Zainal Abidin and Genevieve Lee. Thirty one participants in four groups were tasked with making a short documentary, applying research and shooting techniques learnt.

The Community Filmmaking for Beginners Workshop was led by Jenny Sanem and Ephraem Lompoduk, experienced community filmmakers from Buayan village in Ulu Papar. Designed to enable peer-to-peer sharing and learning, this workshop encouraged more indigenous and local communities to discover the power of storytelling and filmmaking through an engaging and enjoyable step-by-step process.