Last weekend, Cyberjaya was home to an assortment of live music, film screenings, artsy exhibitions and all things creative. It was the second edition of the Cyberjaya Multimedia Festival (CMF), which saw Malaysia’s most celebrated artistic pillars all under one roof.
Art events in the country have been widespread in recent years, with a notable surge of creative exhibitions and festivals that give us access to the core of the local independent scene. It’s events like these that are paramount to the development of local creators and their relationship with the audiences that support them.
In his keynote speech, former Director-General of the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS), Dato Kamil Othman, asserted that Malaysians should feel a sense of urgency when it comes to discussions concerning the preservation the local arts.
“Imagination and creativity have been with us a long time and are yet not seen as high a priority as other fields,” he said.
He proposed that steps should be taken to gradually help the industry thrive. One of his suggestions included having to set quotas on the amount of local films shown in theaters. He recommended that 10-15% of all films in cinemas should be locally produced, affirming that doing so would support the growth and visibility of Malaysian filmmakers.
CMF even had a dedicated screening pod for viewings of several acclaimed local films. Among films screened were the award-winning rempit sci-fi Selam 2.0, the feel-good romance Busker The Movie and popular action flick KL Special Force. There were also screenings of Kau Memang Special Tapi Dia Double Cheese 2, KL Wangan and short films by students at Multimedia University.
This year’s festival offered an immense amount of content, with events taking place both inside and outside of the mall.
The inside saw a large section of the floor dedicated to a variety of creative marketplaces; the biggest of which was the Collector’s Market (also known as Pasar Selekta), noted for its range of novelty items like posters, comic books, T-shirts and handmade trinkets. Several booths also featured limited edition merchandise such as LEGO figurines, Harry Potter duvets, Star Wars earrings and Rick and Morty plushies, which saw ardent fans flocking to each stall.
As part of the Cyberjaya Zine & DIY Festival, another section of the mall showcased zines, books, poetry and art by local writers and artists. There were creative works of all kinds, ranging from rock and roll zines to books of poetry about sad cats.
There were also a series of forums and panels featuring acclaimed speakers who dealt with themes of innovation and entrepreneurship, all in regards to developing the arts industry. The panels were immersive, informative, and led discussions valuable to many wanting to pursue a career in the arts.
Among the conferences and marketplaces were exhibitions of all kinds — the most popular of which seemed to be Make It Happen‘s music exhibition, which highlighted the creative process behind album art and music videos. Many huddled to witness a section dedicated to the making of a Ramayan music video, which featured original sketches by band members and detailed writings on how its execution took place. The exhibition was even complete with a comfy couch and small TV which played the final version of the video.
Another crowd attraction was wishyourhere‘s photography showcase, which featured strings of themed pictures dangling across the room. Meant to be experienced as a photographic journey, viewers were invited to walk in-between the strings and witness a story being told through visuals.
The festival also featured live music performances by local talents such as Ramayan, NJWA, Iqbal M., Sasha Ningkan, Skits, Juno and Hanna, The Fridays, Jaggfuzzbeats, Milo Dinosaur, P-RM, Senja, Maddame and Ayam Hitam.
With a line-up that enticing and genres so diverse, it was the part of the festival that saw crowds at their highest spirits. People cheered on to the beats of local artists and demanded encores from their favourite bands.
Another highlight of CMF were the screenings and exhibitions of Cyberjaya’s very own animation icons. There were outdoor screenings of Konsert Hora Horey, Didi and Friends as well as animated series’ such as Omar & Hana, Boboiboy and Ejen Ali. Mascots, inspired by characters from the cartoon, even walked around the festival waving and high-fiving everyone. While the idea of mascots might only seem enticing to kids, these ones were so upbeat and full of life, even many adults couldn’t resist a couple selfies and a high-five. During some of the music performances, these same mascots even stood among the crowds and danced with audiences to the beat.
The festival came to an end late Sunday night with a series of live music performances at Alam Bunyian. Among those performing were rapper HADES, disco group Fi7i, rock band Transitions, hip hop crew Clumsygang and experimental duo Shuuna, who got audiences vehemently chanting “We want more!” after the end of their set.
The ardor in audiences were definite. CMF has set an exceptional standard for other festivals to follow in its offering of massive amounts of content and platforms for creators of all niches.
Events like these prove that the people have indeed embraced independent culture. And as the scene grows, I look forward to attending more festivals of the kind and giving my support to all pillars of the local arts.