Themed “Climate Change… Now!”, KLEFF 2019 explored stories of people and organisations committed to taking climate action to create maximum impact on sustainable development. Receiving 233 submissions on environment-themed films from 48 countries, the list was whittled down to feature 83 ground-breaking films of various lengths and genres.
The film festival was a platform that aimed to, said Dr. Yasmin Rasyid, KLEFF Founder and Honorary Advisor, uplift the country, and at some point use films to change politicians’ perspectives, to change policies, to change how Malaysians live their lives.
“Films are very powerful tools. I wanted to see how Malaysia can use films to get people to start thinking differently, to spark conversations, to take action, to make something out of everything.
“I hope KLEFF in its 12th year will resonate with the Malaysian public and inspire them to take immediate action for a better and sustainable Malaysia,” she said when launching KLEFF 2019 at Taman Tugu.
Stephanie also called upon Malaysians to take action in their own way. She said it shouldn’t be forgotten that humans changed the climate, and it was up to us to take action, to reduce our carbon footprint, use of fossil fuels and energy we use, to change our mode of life.
“One of the best things we can all do is to plant a tree, but it takes 90 years for a Malaysian rainforest tree to mature.” She said it would have been better to have planted a tree 20 years ago, “but if you hadn’t done it then, plant one today.”
MNS’s support in KLEFF 2019 also extended to the creation of the MY forest Special Award for films with a forest governance message, and Stephanie said the festival was a great platform for raising awareness about environmental issues.
The festival also featured a variety of activities surrounding the theme and also the environment in general. These included workshops, such as for making DIY furnishings, turning cooking oil into soap, recycling plastic into woven baskets and making eco-bricks. Then there were instructive sessions into, among others, wildlife photography and wildlife species and protected areas, and a bustling green market featuring sustainable products from NGOs and small companies.
This year, KLEFF also split into two sessions, thanks to a partnership with Malaysian Green Technology Corp., which organised the 10th International Greentech & Eco Products Exhibition and Conference (IGEM 2019) at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre from 9th to 11th October.
This was the second year of Malaysian Green Technology’s collaboration with KLEFF, according to its Chief Strategic Communications Officer Elina Jani. She said the impetus to collaborate came from Yeo Bee Yin, Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change, and was part of the government’s focus on social contribution by businesses.
“Ultimately, the triple bottom line is where we collaborated with KLEFF, to showcase young filmmakers and global sustainability issues and how they relate to businesses,” Elina said at the launch. The adjacent activities at IGEM comprised the KLEFF 2019 Award Ceremony, informative booth, virtual reality experience and premier film screenings.
The Award Ceremony was held during a luncheon in conjunction with IGEM 2019, graced by Minister Yeo Bee Yin, who said in her keynote speech that such initiatives by NGOs should be supported.
KLEFF 2019 winners
Of course, we can’t go on about a film festival without touching on the cream of the crop, whittled down from 233 entries to 83 finalists, and winners in five general categories and four special categories.
Best Feature Film went to “Beyond Climate”, by Ian Mauro (Canada). Narrated by Dr. David Suzuki, renowned scientist, broadcaster and environmentalist, the film explores the human and environmental impact of climate change in British Columbia, which is a hotspot to visualise and experience how global warming affects local environments and communities, in terms of heat waves, droughts, melting glaciers, pest outbreaks, back-to-back record-setting forest fires and changes to the oceans.
Best Short Documentary was awarded to “Education on the Boat – A New Hope for Tomorrow”, by KM Taj-Biul Hasan (Bangladesh). This film focuses on the climatic adverse condition of “Cholon Beel”, the biggest wetland of northeastern Bangladesh that is inundated with water for eight to nine months of the year, and the inhabitants who are completely dependent on the mercy of the environment for survival.
Best Short Film and Special Merit Award went to “Sleepless”, by Sean Lin (Malaysia). A scenic view of Mongolia can’t mask the truth at ground level, where indigenous nomadic tribes are dying off from the impact of climate change. The film uses minimal dialogue and stirring music to contrast starkly with scenes of devastation, as the film solemnly declares at the end that Mongolia’s capital Ulaanbataar is the world’s most polluted capital, and communities such as the Tsaatan reindeer herders are being threatened into extinction.
Best Animation was awarded to “Barely Alive” by Chan Ming Chun (Hong Kong), which follows the harsh life of a teenage protagonist whose mother died in a heat wave.
Best Public Service Announcement: “Carbon Building Blocks of Life”, by SCM Asia (Malaysia), which was also the film used for the virtual reality experience throughout KLEFF 2019.
Special Jury Award: “Messages from the End of the World”, by Matteo Born (Switzerland). This 51-minute film tells the story of a retired couple who takes five young Swiss people – and the audience – to the arctic circle to observe for themselves the signs of global warming, and consequently to report on and utilise their youth and social media savvy to create awareness among their generation. The exploration of this icy landscape, especially the receding glaciers, and threat of thawing permafrost on the Global Seed Vault, brings to life the true costs of a warming planet.
Asean Young Filmmaker went to “Cloud Kingdom”, by Nady Afiqah (Singapore). This short documentary about Cameron Highlands, specifically the threat to the supply of clean water, also won second place in the MY forest Special Award.
MY forest Special Award went to “Hunting the Helmeted Hornbill”, by Tim Laman and Tom Swartwout (Thailand), focusing on the critically endangered bird hunted for its casque.