Short films for Eco Film Fest come from all over the world

THE annual Eco Film Fest is back for the fourth year and visitors can expect more films and a more green tech-centric fest.

It will be held from today to Sunday at the Dataran Tunku Canselor, Universiti Malaya in Petaling Jaya.

EcoKnights founder and president Yasmin Rasyid, the organiser of the fest, said she was glad that this year’s film fest would be held at a better hall with better seats and equipment.

“Every year, we never had more than eight local films, this year we are screening 27 out of more than 30 entries.

“It caught me by surprise, I hope this is a good indicator that there are people who are keen to base their film content on the environment,” she said.

The organisers had received 68 submissions — out of which 40 were chosen — from countries such as Bosnia, Greece and Finland.

“We will also be screening a movie by Kenyan Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, who passed away recently,” she added.

StarMetro spoke to some of the participating directors and filmmakers, a mix of first-timers and veterans, as they shared their filmmaking process.

Sho Suzuki, a 20-year-old mass communications student, views his participation as a stepping stone into film making.

Using metaphors, his short film Terra tackles the issue of pollution.

He drew inspiration from the political satire Thank You for Smoking, especially the quote from the main character, on believing that smoking controls the population of the earth.

“In Terra, a girl is used to represent earth. Whenever someone pollutes the earth, a tattoo will appear on her body.

“I hate to see people littering, I want people to see how littering is causing pain towards the earth,” he said.

The main challenges were the weather and time-constraint.

“We need natural light, we cannot shoot when it is cloudy,” he said.

He also has a role in his classmate Nicholas Chin’s Circus.

Set in the year 2030 where animals are extinct, Circus centres around a group of young audience who were excited about seeing photos of animals.

Chin has recently joined some competitions and has only heard about the Eco Film Fest this year.

Like his classmate Sho, Chin was also racing against time as it was filmed it during a lecture in five minutes within four takes.

“Ideally, I would like to feature a real circus but it was not possible so I filmed it in a classroom.

“I hope to create awareness about conserving nature and send out the message especially loggers who cut down the trees,” he said.

No real animals were harmed during the making of the film.

Meanwhile, Sunbrella by Fahd Nazeer is the story of a boy who is doing his part in saving the world.

“As I am a Maldivian, recycling and reusing is second nature to me. I grew up knowing what global warming is doing to our world and I needed to show through my video that even a small boy can contribute in slowing it down.

“Sunbrella was started up as an assignment for one of my subjects. But since the topic of recycling is very close to my heart, this short movie became more than just an assignment,” Fahd Nazeer said.

The main target audience of this film is children.

“I want them to know that due to our ignorance and carelessness our world is suffering, and that even they can help to save the world.

“It is also targeted to the adults to show that if a seven-year-old boy can be responsible enough to care about the world then they can too,” he said.

In film-making the most difficult subjects to work with are children and animals and Fahd knew very well how challenging it could be.

“My friend was willing to lend me his five-year-old brother. He would get excited for five minutes and bored the next,” he said.

He took a month to plan and research, hence he was able to film it within one day.

Martias Ali, who has been in the local film industry for 20 years, made Anak to prove that Malaysians were able to make short films too.

It all began when a few local short films were selected to be shown at an exhibition in Malaysia about the Short Shorts Film Festival and Asia from Japan,

“The festival director said Malaysia short films are not good.

“I felt sad hearing this because they condemned short films from Malaysia but those selected, to be truthful, were not up to mark.

“I then said I will make a short film and compete in the Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia,” he said.

He took up the challenge, adhering to the theme of global warming.

The film was set in the future where there are no trees or plants and everyone is tasked with caring for a plant.

While Anak means children in Bahasa Malaysia, in Martias’ film, it means heir or heritage.

“I got help from my Facebook friends to participate in the film, there are people from different races and nationalities who participated.

“I also used CGI and we worked day and night to send it to Japan just in time for the deadline,” he said.

Meanwhile, Gary Liew describes his film as a “shot-in-the-dark” and artsy-fartsy” kind of short film.

It was entered into the BMW Shorties last year and the theme was “zero percentage wastage”.

“It was a challenge as I had not tackled this before and I didn’t want to be stereotypical and have a film on recycling.

“I like storytelling so my genre is something that has a deep message,” he said.

He actually did it on a fluke as he wanted to prove to his colleagues that I can shoot and wrap up the film in two days.

The short film shows a little girl going around Kuala Lumpur asking people about what they know about zero wastage, gathering all the perspectives and realising that what people waste today will affect the future.

“I was surprised to know how shallow and narrow-minded people were towards zero percentage wastage.

“Many of those we approached did not want to be interviewed and some gave similar answers.

“I also thought young people do not care but the girl who played the main character did and it took me by surprise,” he said.

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