Borneo Eco Film Festival 2013

This is four months too late. But I insist.

I have been privileged enough to be invited to a round table of this event, with ample introduction of the festival's efforts in contributing to stir conversation about what is going around the home we live in. I think I remember quoting Melissa (Festival Director), at one point when she was asked why, a film festival about the environment or nature, or the co-relation between man and nature, and she answered -- to create a chatter, and encourage people to think beyond.

I thought that was a hit. Being able to watch, or read something that people blatantly give us sometimes is great (or rather easy) but nothing like the idea of giving a platform of conversation or encouraging people to understand that there are bigger things that are happening beyond their cubicles.

Sabahans you people are lucky. These folks at Borneo Eco Film Festival bring this festival once a year, with FREE admission. Absolutely no catch, you could even bring a whole troop if you have to. Movies that they've solicited are all licensed and exquisitely selected to bring all the more value to the film industry in Sabah. I am all up for free information/ education.

What I really feel close to heart was when their collaboration with other pro film maker trainers introduced SUARA KOMMUNITI a film making workshops that has helped culminate the festival. Some of the activities include all year long through village-level workshops where indigenous and local communities work with SUARA guest trainers for two to three days of hands on training in film making approaches, styles and techniques.

Besides SUARA KOMUNITY, a  BORNEO PITCH is another notable opportunity that they've provided to all Sabahan filmmakers. It is a public forum that provides an opportunity for local storytellers to introduce their ideas in an organized and professional manner. During the workshop, they will receive feedback from a panel of film making experts and from the audience.

When we were shared of the list of movies that were going to be featured, I had my must sees list down and these were among them.

The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein was narrated by Datu Ruslan Sulai an intriguing 7 minute presentation against an enchanting backdrop of live traditional live music. I was so fascinated by this play, and had absolutely no expectations of what the story was going to be about.... untill... I sat through it.....

Nearly cried halfway through the narration, because... I wouldn't say I could relate to it, since I'd be the human in this context, but how we humans always seem to take the nature for granted. It was a story about a boy who made friends with this tree, who initially became the reason why he lifted up whenever he is lonely and playing alone by the tree. The boy wanted an apple, the tree gave it to him. The boy wanted shelter, the tree covered him. The boy wanted friendship, the tree was always there. As time goes by, the boy would come to the tree with all sorts of issues, and the tree would always help. Wanted to look for money? The tree gave itself to him to make money. Wanted a house? The tree was always willing.

Eventually, the man has used up everything the tree has to offer.

The second show that I REALLY wanted to catch was Oceans! Oceans was made famous by a French director Jacques Perrin. It is a spectacular 84-minute story about the journey into the depths of oceans, giving its vieweres unprecendented look at the lives of elusive deepwater creatures through its use of incredible state of the art film making techniques.

I was sold. At every corner, at every tailgating -- I could see how and why these seawater creatures are as adorable as most people describe them to be. They're beautiful.

Borneo Eco Film Festival went on for three consecutive days, and because I was working most of the time I had to nit pick some of the shows that I REALLY wanted to go. Luckily enough, Blackfish was another that I really wanted to watch. This was a South East Asian premiere, which means no where else in South East Asia have seen this shown before. 

It is a discovery about how wild animals are kept in zoos or entertainment outlets as muse. But things aren't as rosy as it may seem or (marketed). Keeping wild animals trained, sometimes goes wrong and the movie shows exactly how this disrupts the psychosis of a famous commercial killer whales. 

And how Tilikum (the killer whale) eventually strikes. 

There were two other films that I couldn't/ didn't manage to catch for some strange reason, either I was working or must have been in church. Chez Les Muruts, a film introduction by North Borneo Historical Society. This was especially special, because this was to showcase the lives of the Muruts (my race/ ancestry) some say among the oldest folks in North Borneo.

Last but not least, Osa Johnson's - I Married Adventure. The title itself is a gem. It was a 1940s 77 minutes South East Asian premiere of Osa Johnson's adventure in Borneo dating back as old as the 1930s.


This was brought in by the Sabah Society. Thank you folks, you guys are amazing. I saw its first series last year and loved it.

I couldn't reiterate more how this festival is an excellent base to educate yourself and your kids about other things besides what books could. Movies are another great way to inform yourself of the things that are going around the world, because they're visual and definitely more animated.

I recommend you make this an annual educational fair for you and your kids :)

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.


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