Borneo Eco Film Festival screens 13 films this year



KOTA KINABALU: Screening of French documentary – Oceans marked the official launch of the three-day Borneo Eco Film Festival 2013 (BEFF 13) on Friday night.

The 84-minute documentary by famous French director Jacques Perrin, which took four long years and €5 million (about RM17,448,802) to make, was screened for the first time in the region to the BEFF audience.

It is a story about a journey into the depths of the oceans, giving viewers an unprecedented look at the lives of elusive deepwater creatures through its use of incredible state-of-the-art filmmaking techniques.

The BEFF screened the English version of Oceans that is narrated by the former James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan.

Also in the program that night were the screening of the simple yet powerful live film The Giving Tree and the historical movie Kemajuan Sabah.

The night actually began with an intriguing seven-minute presentation of The Giving Tree, made up of a live narration of the film adapted from the classic children’s picture book written by Shel Silverstein.

Famous local poet and artist Datu Ruslan Sulai recited the Malay translation of The Giving Tree, accompanied by Malaysian musician Hezekiah Asim, renowned for playing ethnic musical instruments.

An eight-minute historical film entitled Kemajuan Sabah (Sabah’s progress) in Malay followed immediately after The Giving Tree. It is a black-and-white classic taken from the archives of Filem Negara Malaysia released in 1963 which showcases the opportunities and aspirations of Sabah at the dawn of a new country called Malaysia.

The event, which ended Saturday night, saw a total of 13 specially selected films screened free to the public.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun in his speech read by Sabah Tourism Board chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, described the BEFF’s effort as “commendable” for placing its emphasis on community engagement.

“From what I can see, there is definitely a lot of involvement from very committed public on the green agenda for the country. I hope the Festival will keep up with its efforts and reach out to more Sabahans.

“The Festival’s focus is of course on the screening of international and local environment-themed films. But there’s a certain laid-back and positive energy that comes with it, and I hope that, as a group of concerned citizens here, we are able to learn, understand and practice what we have seen,” he said.

He said the annual BEFF is also aimed at celebrating Borneo’s bio-cultural diversity through showcasing environmental films and nurturing local community filmmaking. Its mission is to also support indigenous people/local communities to tell their own stories with their own voice and with their own images while presenting environmental international and Asian films, some of which have never before been seen in Malaysia, or even throughout Asia.

“Leading up to the festival is the Suara Komuniti (The Voice of the Community) workshops where the organisers work to build the capacity of indigenous and local communities to communicate their stories, experiences and worldviews related to Borneo’s bio-cultural heritage through the medium of film.

“I was made to understand that, Suara Komuniti activities are conducted all year long through village-level workshops where indigenous and local communities work with its guest trainers for two to three days of hands-on training in filmmaking approaches, styles and techniques,” said Joniston.

He believes that there is a need to expose the people to more green issues, especially those that are related to green technology for the future of the planet.

“We have also a wide range of amazing green innovations that are present and are already facilitating the healing of the planet, from providing sustainable energy options to more eco-friendly modes of transportation.

“One of the best ways to see and understand the positive uses of green technology and how it can help make a better environment is of course, through films,” he said.

Speaking for Masidi, he said people have different constraints and frustrations about what they do for the betterment of the environment, but he believes that it can be done through unity.

For more information on the event, visit the BEFF’s website at or its Facebook page.