Human rights documentary film festival FreedomFilmFest (FFF) is set to host its first ever online edition from 10-13 December 2020. The long-running festival, which has been an annual attraction at PJ Live Arts since 2014, is going fully digital to ensure compliance with pandemic-related SOPs. However, this has not dulled the edge of the festival’s programme, which is set to explore topics from polygamy to marijuana use.
Themed “Bangsa: Manusia”, this year’s festival will premiere works on issues of identity and representation, alongside a selection of socially conscious films from Singapore. Eight films from Malaysia and one film from Singapore are scheduled to premiere at the festival alongside other screening programmes.
Notable projects include documentarian Norhayati Kaprawi‘s first foray into clay puppet animation, SULOH. In the film, protagonist Kak Ton finds an inspiring and creative way to rebuild her life after being left by her polygamous husband. Norhayati has previously completed documentaries on Muslim women ulama, religious conversion, and the culture of wearing headscarves.
Elsewhere, Ayahku, Dr. G by Loh Jo Yee and Hidayah Hisham treads the unfamiliar world of lengthy legal proceedings and prison visits when Siti’s 60-year-old father is arrested for using medical cannabis for treatment of chronic illnesses. Suffice to say, FFF’s curation comprises the sort of urgent subjects you won’t find FINAS backing anytime soon.
“These voices have been left out and ignored in the national discourse, often drowned out by the more dominant discourse of race and religion in our country,” noted FreedomFilmNetwork Executive Director Anna Har. “Through FFF, they have an opportunity to voice out their own perspectives and hopes and more importantly to be treated as human beings with equal rights.”
FFF will also premiere two films from indigenous women, namely Selai Kayu Yek and Klinik Ku Hutan. Both films were result of a two-year participatory film project with young Orang Asli women from across Peninsular Malaysia. Meanwhile, the Singaporean film premiere, Jessica Lee‘s The Shades of Love, visits Singapore’s sex workers and utilises soundscapes and images to portray the individuals relying on the trade.
There will also be post-screening discussions for an opportunity to interact with filmmakers, plus specially curated talks which helps highlight local perspectives on this year’s theme. All events are set to take place online via streaming platform CloudTheatre, which recently hosted Instant Cafe Theatre Company‘s ‘CMCO’ Nadirah.