Wednesday 06 Dec 2023
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This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on August 15, 2016.


THE 14th FreedomFilmFest (FFF) returns this weekend with a line-up of 30 curated films from around the world. First launched as an initiative for filmmakers to share their stories and work without fear, the documentary film festival focuses on human rights and sociopolitical issues.

As part of this year’s theme, What Lies Beneath, the aim is to uncover what lies beneath the barrage of headlines and news, offering a first-hand view of today’s contemporary stories as they unfold. Besides film screenings and premieres, the festival’s schedule will also include masterclasses, the SEA Video 4 Change Forum and a new addition called the Freedom Talks series, which addresses topics such as the refugee influx, radicalisation of Islam, censorship and the food revolution. Here are some films we’re looking forward to:


A Syrian Love Story (2015)
Languages: English, Farsi, with Bahasa Malaysia subtitles

British filmmaker Sean McAllister paints an intimate portrait of the Syrian revolution through the story of one family. Shot over five years, the documentary journeys through the passionate but disintegrating relationship between former political prisoners Amer and Raghda, as well as the perspective of their young children. Told amid the turmoil and fall of the country’s regime, the film offers a glimpse into their struggle to settle into their new lives as refugees in France.   


10 Billion — What’s On Your Plate (2015)
Languages: German, English, with English subtitles

What happens when the world’s population hits 10 billion by 2050? That is the statistic on which director Valentin Thurn presents his documentary on the worsening food shortage problem. In the film, the best-selling author and self-proclaimed “food fighter” goes in search of sustainable alternatives to current food production systems, taking him to India, Thailand, the US and Europe.


The Borneo Case (2015)
Languages: English with Bahasa Malaysia subtitles

It’s description reads like a movie, except the compelling thriller of a documentary tells a true tale of murder, mafia, kidnapping and money laundering, involving power figures and international banks. Filmed over 25 years, the epic tale unveils the shadowy thirst for the Borneo rainforests abundant resources in a case that has been labelled the “largest environmental crime of the century”.


Kisah Pelayaran Ke Terengganu (2016)
Languages: Bahasa Malaysia with English subtitles

Writer and filmmaker Amir Muhammad decided to bring a camera and do a travelogue style film of his first visit to Terengganu in December 2015. The result is scenes that are familiar but also distinct, highlighting the unique characteristics of the laid-back northern state and its people. Co-directed by Terengganu native Badrul Hisham Ismail, the documentary is making its premiere screening at the FFF.


The Promise (2016)
Languages: German, English, with English subtitles

On March 30, 1985, Elizabeth Haysom’s parents were brutally murdered in their home in Virginia, US. Elizabeth and her 19-year old German lover Jen Soring became suspects after they fled to Europe and Asia. The documentary revisits the mysterious case, focusing on now 48-year old Jen, who was convicted for the murders and spent more than half his life in prison. After being denied parole 13 times, new forensic evidence and other discoveries may bring a change.


Pertanyaan untuk Bapak (2015)
Languages: Bahasa Indonesia with English subtitles

This documentary captures the heart-wrenching journey of Yatna Pelangi, who travels in search of his biological father. Courage intersperses with heartbreak as he seeks to confront his father, who used to rape him when he was a boy.  


Disappearing Hills (2015)
Languages: English with Bahasa Malaysia subtitles

Scrutinising the recurring floods in Cameron Highlands, Yeo Kai Wen’s documentary highlights the cause and consequences of development. In one scene, stern-faced soldiers wielding M-16 rifles stood guard, as excavators mowed down rows of chrysanthemums as farmers stood by helplessly.  The human stories are juxtaposed against the danger of unbridled development by government institutions.

For registration and the full schedule of the FreedomFilmFest 2016, visit

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