In 2015, for the first time, the Suara Publika programme integrated the presentation of public talks into the Environmental Cinemaprogramme, featuring East Malaysian, West Malaysian and international speakers. A total of five public talks were delivered on the main stage in a visual and high-impact TED-talk styled approach: “Introduction to the Sundance Institute” and “Indigenous Filmmaking” by Birdrunning Water, “Cultural traditions in the Kelabit Highlands” by Lucy Bulan, “Suara Community Filmmaking Programme” by Agnes Lee Agama, Seok Wun Au Yong, Andy Chia and Zan Azlee Zainal Abidin & “Deadly Dinners – Eating our way through the Endangered Species List” by Elizabeth John. Publika also featured three interactive seminars, (“Indigenous Filmmaking” with Suara Community Filmmaking Workshop participants, “Film industry in Sabah and Malaysia” with FilmCamp & “Personal Journey as an Independent Filmmaker” with University College Sabah Foundation Faculty of Creative Media and Fine Arts students), all helmed by Mr. Bird Runningwater. These were especially pre-arranged sessions for select local groups comprised of film enthusiasts, film students and Suara community filmmakers who were treated to a hands-on discussion with Bird.


In 2013, BEFF debuted “Borneo Pitch”, a new format for the filmmaking workshop. This featured three groups of aspiring Sabahan filmmakers presenting their ideas to a panel of experts, who provided constructive feedback on how to further develop their ideas. Two of the groups were selected for seed grants from a local film production company to develop each of their ideas into a short film. For the environmental segment of SUARA PUBLIKA, a total of 8 environmental talks were given by the Malaysian Nature Society, Sabah Wetlands Conservation Society, Sabah Computer Society, WWF-Malaysia, and the Omadal Island Women’s Handicrafts group. In addition to their SUARA Publika talk, the Sabah Computer Society ran a two-day e-waste collection campaign at BEFF 2013.


In 2012, PUBLIKA talks were given by documentary filmmakers Harun Rahman and Zan Azlee Zainal Abidin, and special presentations that explore our central theme of Community Conservation in Action were delivered by some of Sabah’s pioneering non-governmental organisations, namely, the Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA), HUTAN-Kinabatangan Orang-utan Conservation Programme, and the Model for Ecologically Sustainable Community Conservation and Tourism (MESCOT). “Sensing Borneo”, an in-festival workshop and speaker series, was specifically tailored for indigenous and local community filmmakers. It featured a set of iconic people from Sabah and Sarawak whose task was to take us on an exploratory journey: to discover Sabah and Sarawak through our senses. These talks were free and open to the public, offering a special chance to experience the favourite sights, sounds, touch, tastes and smells of Borneo.