Documentary on Kuril Islands steals the show

(Clockwise from top left) KLEFF2020 manager for films Nabila Shohimi moderates a filmmakers’ dialogue which is participated by The Future of Flight’s Larissa Klinker, Bauddhayan and It’s Look Sunshine’s Kim Seunghwan.

A 24-minute documentary on a marine biologist’s plea to support ongoing research that will push for policies to protect the Kuril Islands won two awards at the International Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Fest (KLEFF 2020).

From Kuril With Love (FKWL) by American filmmaker Taylor Reese enthralled audiences with the beauty of the volcanic archipelago, stretching 1,300km from Hokkaido, Japan to Kamchatka, Russia.

It also highlighted the effects of global climate change where the islands, once lush green, were now barren deserts.

The documentary warned that the environment was in rapid decline as indicated by the dwindling population of sea lions, which had decreased by 80% from 1980.

In addition to the Special Jury Award, FKWL was picked as the Best Short Documentary by the film festival’s panel of six judges.

Touching on judging criteria, GreenTech green innovations director Elina Jani and SCM Asian founder Justin Wong said the storyline and content that addressed key environmental issues were among the main elements judges looked out for.

“The story must be engaging and creative with its use of different metaphors, and evoke a certain kind of feeling with the audience to deliver its key message, ” Wong said.

The eco film festival has attracted 1,500 film submissions throughout its 13-year run.

For this year, KLEFF festival director Fadly Bakhtiar said the new normal forced by the Covid-19 pandemic had done little to dampen the enthusiasm for its environmental cause as the organising committee worked to put the entire event on a virtual platform.

“I hope all the hard work will move people to watch these films to gain more access and exposure to climate issues, ” he said.

Other award recipients this year were The Future of Flight for Best Feature Film or Long Documentary, It’s Look Sunshine for Best Short Film, USLP Shower for Best Public Service Announcement and Gon, The Little Fox for Best Animation.

These submissions were from Germany, South Korea, India and Japan respectively.

On whether it was necessary to follow current trends when it came to filmmaking, USLP Shower’s Bauddhayan Mukherji opined during a filmmaker’s dialogue that at times, it paid to not care about what the audience wanted.

“In a family, do parents give the children everything they ask for? It’s the same when it comes to films.

“There are times when a filmmaker has to act like a mother who must decide what is good for her children, ” said Bauddhayan, a Mumbai-based director.

Guests of honour at the virtual awards ceremony were Tunku Zain Al-Abidin Ibni Tuanku Muhriz, Dr Nagulendran Kangayatkarasu from the Environment and Water Ministry as well as KLEFF founder and honorary advisor Yasmin Rasyid.

The online festival was made possible by KLEFF’s digital platform partner, International Greentech and Eco Products Exhibition and Conference Malaysia.

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