Human rights documentary film festival, FreedomFilmFest (FFF) is back with more than 30 films in its line-up. Comprising both international and local fare, the festival will be held at PJ Live Arts, Jaya One in Petaling Jaya, from Sept 21-28.

This year, the fest looks at Malaysia as a middle-income country. And with the cost of living constantly rising, why do wages remain low or stagnant for so many Malaysians?

In a press announcement, it states: “This economic reality inspired FFF to develop this year’s theme: Harga Naik, Gaji Maintain (Soaring Price, Stagnant Wages).

“Through this year’s film selection, film festival goers can look forward to watching how the global community have found plenty of creative ways to respond to capitalism and other human rights issues.”

FFF is also introducing a thematic “Art Battle Malaysia” this year in which eight artists will be painting – live – their responses to the Harga Naik, Gaji Maintain documentaries. After the painting is completed, attendees can bid on them. This will be held on Sept 21, from 1pm to 2pm.

The featured artists – FayFay, Jean Lynn, Jiet, Kash, Shika, Shutterscream, Vesha Naidu and Zami Musa – will be given a preview of this year’s documentaries and they will interpret and paint their perspectives in a 30min art battle.

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Art Battle Malaysia will be a part of this FreedomFilmFestival on Sept 21. Photo: Devendiran Param

Four Malaysian films tackle the festival’s main theme. In Demi Paymitra, filmmaker Azreen Madzlan looks at the issue of urban child poverty.

Albert Bansa’s Pengidup Aku, an Iban-language film, sees a single father leaving his young son behind in their longhouse to find work in town.

Meanwhile, Bila Kami Bersatu, a film by Minxi Chua and Asyraf Abdul Samad, shows how women hospital cleaners from around Malaysia form a union to secure their rights.

And in Andrew Han’s Doa Seorang Nelayan, audiences get to witness how environmental and income issues affect fishing communities in Penang.

One of the international movies to check out is Push, directed by award-winning Swedish filmmaker, producer and journalist, Fredrik Gertten. His movie looks at “how global finance is fuelling the housing crisis and making cities unaffordable to live in”.

Gertten will be in Malaysia during the festival to join a panel discussion on the movement for housing rights after the screening.

The festival will also showcase nine movies made by film students from Malaysia and Singapore; these films will also be competing for the FFF’s Student Film Award.

One such documentary has already made its mark internationally – People’s Republic Of Desire by Chinese-American director Hao Wu received the Grand Jury Award for documentary feature at the South By South West Film Festival 2018 in the US.

Another highlight of FFF 2019 is inspiring stories of women fighting to overcome gender inequality and sexual violence. Some of the films include Mother, Daughter, Sister by Jeanne Hallacy and A Thousand Girls Like Me by Sahra Mani.

There will be workshops and talks at the festival given by people in the industry including Sean McAllister (A Northern Soul), Ben Randall (Sisters For Sale) and Marion Guth (Zero Impunity).

FFF2019 will also play host to a gathering of video activists from the region such as Indonesian film journalist Lexy Rambadeta, as well as activists from West Papua, Myanmar and Nepal.


For more information and updates on FFF2019, visit freedomfilm.my.