It’s that time of the year again to indulge in thought-provoking documentaries focusing on issues ranging from equal rights to environmental protection.

International human rights documentary film festival FreedomFilmFest (FFF) 2018 returns to PJ Live Arts for a week beginning this Saturday. It will play host to over 40 new and award-winning films showcasing the best local and international filmmaking talents.

This year’s festival theme, “Mend The Gap”, draws inspiration from the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which states that “no one should be left behind”.

With the recent changes in the country’s political landscape and the spirit of a New Malaysia, FFF aims to use the power of film and great storytelling to create more awareness and empathy, and promote a deeper exchange between groups in order to close these gaps and inspire real change.

This year’s FFF film grant recipients focused on three pertinent issues in Malaysia – the education of stateless children in Sabah (Aku Mau Sekolah – I Want To Go To School by Putri Purnama Sagua), adequate maternal healthcare in rural Sarawak (The Story of Kam Agong by Lawrence Jayaraj) and the rights of the differently-abled to an independent and dignified life (In The Dark by Low Watan).

All three films will premiere on the festival’s opening night.

Bicycle-powered cinema

If you have always wondered how much energy it takes to screen one movie, find out at the first-ever bicycle-powered cinema. Pedal one of the specially engineered bikes from Biji-Biji Initiative and get a film rolling.

Here are the films featured:

1. Malaysia: Energise The World – Founders Valley

German entrepreneur Fridtjof Detzner talks to young entrepreneurs in Malaysia about the increasing demand for energy and their mission to find alternative energy sources.

‘Power Down 2 Power All’ is about a boy who tries to save the planet by freeing up power.

2. Power Down 2 Power All

A young boy, realising that the planet is under threat from greenhouse gases and climate change, decides to improve the efficiency of mankind’s overall power consumption. His aim is to free up power for the planet and everyone on it.

3. On The Brink Of Extinction: The Malayan Tiger

We are losing our Malayan tigers and we urgently need to make them a national priority. This mini story, told through the eyes of an individual, highlights the need for greater collaborative efforts to save the king of Malaysia’s forests.

‘Rang-tan: The Story Of Dirty Palm Oil’ is narrated by Emma Thompson.

4. Rang-tan: The Story Of Dirty Palm Oil

This production, narrated by Emma Thompson, throws the spotlight on the destruction of the Indonesian rainforest for the production of palm oil.

5. Bau Hutan

In this protest monologue, the focus is on the extensive and indiscriminate logging in Kelantan that is believed to have caused the massive floods in 2014. The film questions how power is used in the name of religion as a licence to cause environmental degradation that led to the suffering of thousands.

Activists and thinkers fight for better cities in ‘Bikes Vs Cars’.

6. Bikes Vs Cars

Activists and thinkers fight for better cities, refusing to stop riding bicycles despite the increasing number of riders killed in traffic.

FreedomFilmFest will also showcase four virtual reality (VR) films for viewers to take on a surreal experience. In Inside the Arctic, Greenpeace leads you deep into the Arctic to capture the beautiful icy landscape in 360°. Witness the Arctic sunrise, the pureness of a polar bear cub and the quiet resting spot of a seal. Yet, the ice is melting, opening the possibilities for oil companies to access the resources below. The Arctic is now not only in danger of oil spills, but also industrial fishing, climate change, and more.

The Bicycle-powered Cinema and VR booth will be open this Saturday and Sunday, from 11am to 8pm at The School, Jaya One, PJ. – Wong Li Za

FreedomFilmFest will be held from Sept 29 to Oct 6 at PJ Live Arts, Petaling Jaya. It will travel to George Town, Muar, Johor Baru, Man-jung, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu and Singapore between October and December. The full film listing is available at freedomfilm.my