KOTA KINABALU, 6 September – The Borneo Eco Film Festival (BEFF) is back for the 7th year, bringing award-winning environmental films from around the world to the Sabah screen from the 22nd to the 24th of September at Suria Sabah, Kota Kinabalu.
The three-day festival is an annual non-profit event celebrating Borneo’s biocultural diversity through showcasing environmental films and nurturing local community filmmaking. A total of 18 films will be screened during the festival weekend and another seven during the BEFF 365 Fringe Screening at other locations around Sabah throughout the year. During the festival weekend, cinephiles are treated to Asian and South East Asian Premieres of documentaries that highlight a variety of issues from elephant conservation to indigenous land rights.
This year’s highlights include the World Premiere of Mount Kinabalu – North Borneo 1961 (1961, Malaysia/UK, 29 min) and the Asian Premieres of Fractured Land (2015, Canada, Gillis, D., Rayher, F., 75 min) – a film made over four years following the life of a young Dene lawyer, Caleb Behn, who tries to find balance between his sacred duty to protect his indigenous territory while understanding the people’s need for jobs – and Bugs on the Menu (2016, Canada, Toews, I., Bradley, M., 78 min) –showcasing alternative protein sources and the creative ways to include insects in our daily diet. The issue of sustainable fashion comes into play in the eye-opening RiverBlue (2016, Canada, McIlvride, D., Williams, R., 95 min) narrated by Jason Priestley, while cat-lovers won’t want to miss closing night’s screening of Kedi (2016, Turkey, Torun, C., 80 min) – a beautifully-shot documentary on the beloved felines that are integral to Istanbul’s character. All films are subtitled in Bahasa Malaysia and screenings are free. Updates to the festival schedule will be made available at beff.org.my or on BEFF’s Facebook page.
The festival also features educational talks, discussion panels, workshops and an Eco Art Carnival, showcasing eco-themed art installations and an arts and crafts market – all open to the public and entry is free.
BEFF is the only environmental film festival that offers a platform for indigenous and local community filmmaking through their Suara Community Filmmaking Programme. Through thematic and intensive workshops helmed by leading creative industry professionals from Malaysia and Indonesia, villagers who join the Suara Community programme learn to harness the power of images and sound to tell the stories about their communities, experiences, the environments around them and worldviews related to Borneo’s biocultural heritage. Their films will premiere on the final day of the festival.
BEFF’s 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. This year, as part of the festival’s Youth and Education Outreach, BEFF initiated the Young Leaders for Sustainability Programme (YL4S). Youths between the ages of 18 to 30 participate in monthly workshops throughout the year to build knowledge and capacity in environmental and social issues, where they meet and share experiences with environmental leaders, NGOs, indigenous elders, scientists, wildlife experts and social entrepreneurs.
BEFF is also the only Southeast Asian member of the Green Film Network (GFN), joining the ranks of prestigious and established environmental film festivals including Cinemambiente (Italy), DCEFF (USA), Cinema Planeta (Mexico) and Planet in Focus (Canada).
Organised by the voluntary society, Melapi (Society for Holistic Outreach, Research and Environmental Action), BEFF is made possible with the support of its main partners: Yayasan Hasanah, GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP) implemented by UNDP, Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment Sabah, Ministry of Resource Development and Information Technology Sabah and Suria Sabah.
Also supporting BEFF this year are Kinabalu Daya Hotel, Sticky Rice Travel, Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa, Grandis Hotel, Bentarakata, Lembaga Penapis Filem Malaysia, FINAS, Sabah Surfing Association, ScubaZoo Images, NEPCon (Malaysia), Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), Jesselton College and University College Sabah Foundation (UCSF).
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