Enhancing community filmmaking in Sabah at Borneo Eco Film Festival

In 2011 and 2012, Global Diversity Foundation co-organised the Borneo Eco Film Festival (BEFF), an event celebrating Borneo’s biocultural diversity through showcasing environmental films and nurturing local community filmmaking. The community filmmaking workshop Suara (Voice, in the local Malay language) was launched in 2011 as a one-day introductory workshop for a group of 15. In 2012, SUARA expanded into a year-long training programme with field workshops, and talks and workshops held during the Festival, organised as Suara Komuniti and Suara Publika, integral components of BEFF.

Over two years, community researchers from Ulu Papar (Raymond Sipanis, Jenny Sanem and Ephraem Lompoduk) shared video-making methods and experiences with communities from around Sabah. In 2011, participants hailed from HUTAN, a grassroots NGO that works to develop and implement innovative solutions to conserve wildlife in Sabah, particular along the Kinabatangan river. The following year, 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. Two three-day training workshops for indigenous community filmmakers from the villages of Sukau and Batu Puteh were held in Sukau in 2012.

Designed to enable peer-to-peer sharing and learning, SUARA encourages indigenous and local communities to discover the power of storytelling and filmmaking through an engaging and enjoyable step-by-step process.

Camera handling and soundcheck at BEFF 2011

Camera handling and soundcheck at BEFF 2011


An experience for Ulu Papar community researchers:

Community researchers from Buayan were trained in Participatory Video, a filmmaking technique that involves a community in the development of their own video, through our collaborative projects in Southeast Asia. They have used these skills to tell their story on land and resource issues in Ulu Papar, producing ‘Searching for Solutions. Buayan-Kionop Participatory Video Series, Part II: Ethnobiological Research’ in 2009, an effort by the Buayan-Kionop community in association with GDF, Insight UK and Sabah Parks.

During BEFF, community researchers had the opportunity to work with experts from the film industry, Chris Chong and Ikhwan Rivai, and Cypriot videographer Inanc Tekguc and community filmmaker Artison Mandawa from Palawan in the Philippines, who shared their experiences and filmmaking skills.

BEFF 2011 and 2012 were held 29 – 31 July in Sandakan, on the east coast of Sabah, Malaysia, and 28 – 30 September, in Sabah’s capital, Kota Kinabalu respectively. It is now an annual event. Read more about SUARA Komuniti and SUARA Publika on the BEFF website.