Borneo Eco Film Festival 2016: Smaller Scale, Wider Reach

Press Release


KOTA KINABALU, September 17, 2016 – The Borneo Eco Film Festival (BEFF), Sabah’s homegrown annual green event, returns this October with workshops, talks and films screenings open to the public for free.

This year’s festival, now in its sixth year running, will be held on a smaller scale in terms of screening capacity but increases its community reach through a variety of public programmes.

“This year, Suria Sabah is our generous venue sponsor and we’ve decided to create a more laid-back atmosphere for the environmental cinema. Taking place at the Event Hall on the 5th floor of the shopping mall, our seating capacity is just under 100 pax, making it a more intimate and casual affair,” said Festival Director, Melissa Leong.

Award-winning international and local films will be screened on the 8th and 9th of October and admission is free.

An integral part of BEFF is the Suara Community Filmmaking Programme that brings together some 40 participants from various local communities around Sabah to learn how to harness the power of film to communicate their worldviews, opinions and stories. These community filmmakers, who range from beginner to intermediate levels of expertise, will have a chance to have their completed films screened during the festival on Sunday, 9th October at 6:45pm. All are welcome for the screening.

Film enthusiasts can also enjoy the Publika Fringe Screenings during which selected films will be showing at partner venues: The Wound and The Gift on the 3rd of October at , Acid Ocean on the 4th of October at and Umi Yama Aida on the 5th of October at .




BEFF widens its reach this year by introducing the Youth Outreach Programme. “The BEFF team is visiting selected learning institutions (colleges, universities and secondary schools) to present environmental talks and focus on the power of storytelling and filmmaking to educate, engage and uplift. We hope to create awareness and inspire our urban youth to be future movers and shakers in our social and environmental landscapes,” said BEFF co-founder, Dr. Agnes Agama.

Among the schools involved so far are SM St. Francis Convent, SM St. Michael Penampang, Tshung Tsin Secondary School, Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Sabah, University College Sabah Foundation (UCSF), Asian Tourism Institute (ATI) and Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS).



BEFF Film Line-up

There will be 14 films screened during BEFF’s festival weekend and Publika Fringe Screenings. According to Dr Agama, this year’s films were selected based on their messages and its delivery, and its relevance to the people of Sabah.

 “These chosen films highlight the need and urgency for mankind to lead a more sustainable living. We need to remember that the environment and people’s lives are intertwined, and in our quest for progress, there is a need to be kinder and less impactful to the environment,” said Agama.

BEFF opens on Saturday night with a short animation, The Sea Is Blue; a charming tale of how the sea got its colour, followed by another marine-themed film, Plastic Paradise, which addresses the issue of plastic waste. Japanese film Brilliant Darkness: Hotaru in the Night makes a South East Asian debut, featuring artists and scientists on different continents working to understand firefly flash patterns and how to live among wildlife in urban settings. The Grandfather Drum is another short animation focusing on the indigenous voice – it follows the story of a drum with healing powers, based on a North American First Nation legend. Oil & Water makes an Asian premiere during BEFF on the 8th of October. It features the true story of two boys’ coming of age– an American and another from the Amazon- as they confront the problem of reckless oil drilling.  The evening ends with a riveting film, Bikes VS Cars, bringing us to the streets of Sao Paulo, Copenhagen, LA and Toronto to see how the bicycle can be a great tool for change.




On the 9th of October, the afternoon kicks off with a local compilation, Big Stories Small Town, Bongkud-Namaus, Ranau by Sabahan film maker, Nadira Ilana. KK residents will enjoy The Heart of Gaya Street which follows at 3:00pm. In the evening, Canadian film Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story will prove to be an eye-opener. The film makers document their journey as they pledge to stop grocery shopping and eat only discarded food, highlighting the global problem of food wastage. A touching tale of music amidst trying conditions is told in Landfill Harmonic, showcasing the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, a Paraguayan musical group that plays instruments made entirely out of garbage. The festival ends with K2 and The Invisible Footmen – an intriguing look at the porters and sherpas who risk their lives on a daily basis, guiding climbers along K2.

K2 and The Invisible Footmen director Iara Lee and pre-production researcher William Lee will also be making an appearance and introducing the film at the festival.

Films will be screened from 5:00pm to 10:00pm on Saturday, 8th October and from 1:30pm to 10:00pm on Sunday, 9th October.

There will also be a talk on Drone Filming by local film maker Andy Chia on Sunday, 12 noon at the event venue. A variety of NGOs, craft makers and artists will be opening booths throughout the festival weekend.



BEFF main festival partners are the Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry of Sabah, Yayasan Hasanah, US Embassy Kuala Lumpur, Resource Development and Information Technology Ministry and Suria Sabah.

It is also supported by Lembaga Penapis Filem Malaysia, Perbadanan Filem Nasional Malaysia (FINAS), Kinabalu Daya Hotel, Scubazoo, Sticky Rice Travel, Sharikat Biru-Biru, Meet+Wine Bistro, PACOS, The Sabah Society and Sabah Tourism Board.

For updates and the screening schedule, visit or find them on Facebook: Borneo Eco Film Festival, Instagram and Twitter



About BEFF

The Borneo Eco Film Festival (BEFF) is an annual non-profit programme of activities celebrating Borneo’s biocultural diversity through showcasing environmental films and nurturing local community filmmaking. It started out as project amongst friends who wanted to create a platform where voices could be heard. The festival was first held in Sandakan in 2011. Since then, the festival is hosted at the capital city Kota Kinabalu. Our goals are to Educate through new knowledge on ecological and cultural issues, Expose through environmental films that stimulate discussion; and Engage storytellers through a platform for community filmmaking. For more information, go to

Media Contact:

Melissa Leong                              Chloe Lee





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