8 Inspiring Films You Should Watch At The Freedom Film Fest 2018

From teenaged activists to the lesser-known forces behind GE14, these people have inspiring stories to be told.

Cover image via Freedom Film Fest/Facebook

If there is one lesson learned from the formation of #MalaysiaBaru, it is that change starts from within

While feelings of hope are still running high, especially during this Merdeka and Hari Malaysia season, Freedom Film Fest 2018 (FFF) hopes to inspire change and create more awareness and empathy through the power of film and great storytelling.

This year's edition of the annual fest, which showcases award-winning social justice and human rights films, calls on Malaysians to "Mend The Gap".

The theme is inspired by the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which states that “no one should be left behind”.

The films will be screened at PJ Live Arts, Jaya One from 29 September to 6 October, and seven other cities between October and December. 

Ready to make a difference? Here are eight films to watch out for at the Freedom Film Fest:

1. Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower

Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower

Image via Joe Piscatella/Netflix

From teen activist to Hong Kong politician, Joshua Wong is a recognisable face to those who have read reports of the 2014 Umbrella Movement. For many around the world, Wong's fight against the Chinese Communist Party for backtracking on its promise of autonomy for Hong Kong echoes that of the biblical story of "David and Goliath". Here, Joe Piscatella documents Wong's journey to becoming one of China's most notorious dissidents.

Director: Joe Piscatella

Language: Cantonese

Subtitles: English and Bahasa Malaysia

Note: Fellow Hong Kong activist Agnes Chow will be present at the screening for a Q&A session.

2. Aku Mau Skola (I Want To Go To School)

A still from "Aku Mau Skola".

Image via Freedom Film Fest/Facebook

In a particular area of Sandakan, Sabah there are only two schools open to the stateless children who live there. Now, one of them is at risk being shut down for its lack of a license. Between eluding authorities and looking for a means of survival, undocumented children have an uncertain future - but many of them just want to go to school. When one school closes down, the last one standing will do whatever it takes to survive. Director Putri Purnama is one of FFF's 2018 film grant recipients. 

Director: Putri Purnama

Language: Bahasa Malaysia

Subtitles: English and Bahasa Malaysia

3. Rising from Silence

Still for "Rising From Silence".

Image via Freedom Film Fest/Facebook

In Indonesia, a group of elderly women form a choir group to be the voice of those who have been silenced. Performing songs written by those who have been arrested and sentenced for years without a single trial, the women hope to heal their trauma and teach the younger generation of their country's forgotten history. 

 Shalahuddin Siregar (Indonesia)

Language: Indonesian

Subtitles: English

4. The Judge

The Judge.

Image via Erika Cohn

Kholoud Al-Faqih is the first woman judge in the Syariah courts of Palestine. Erika Cohn documents a unique portrait of Kholoud - her brave journey as a lawyer, her tireless fight for justice for women, and her drop-in visits with clients, friends, and family - to illuminating some of the universal conflicts in the domestic life of Palestine while offering an unvarnished look at life for women under Syariah law.

Director: Erika Cohn

Language: Arabic

Subtitles: English and Bahasa Malaysia

5. The Cycle

The Cycle.

Image via Freedome Film Fest/Facebook

Follow the homecoming journey of a gay Singaporean man as he reconnects with his childhood through a game of Chinese chess with his father and satisfies a childhood desire to learn how to cycle from him. While desiring his father’s acceptance of who he is, his husband, and their soon-to-be born son, he comes to a revelation about fatherhood and the cycle of life. 

Director: Benjamin Zhang & Dewi Tan (Singapore)

Language: English

Subtitles: English

6. Counterfeit Kunkoo

A still from "Counterfeit Kunkoo".

Image via Freedom Film Fest/Facebook

Smita has managed to escape an abusive marriage in a country where marital rape is not a crime. Now she lives in a one room apartment in Mumbai, earning her living by making imitation mangalsutras (necklaces worn by married women). The peace doesn't last, as Smita soon finds out that there is a strange pre-requisite to renting a home in middle-class Mumbai.

Director: Reema Sengupta (India) 

Language: Hindi

Subtitles: English

7. Melawan Arus

A still from "Melawan Arus".

Image via Freedom Film Fest/Facebook

#MalaysiaBaru was not built in one day, as this documentary will show. Arul Prakkash traces and critically highlights some of the lesser-known but equally important efforts that built up and contributed to the results of GE14. Arul also explores the challenges that await a Malaysia that wants real change. 

Director: Arul Prakkash

Language: Bahasa Malaysia

Subtitles: English and Bahasa Malaysia

8. The Cleaners

The Cleaners.

Image via Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck

An unflinching look into the group of people who moderate the billions of videos and images that go up on social media every day. These "cleaners" share their ordeals from finding child pornography to recordings of Islamic murders, the effects of dealing with the worst side of social media daily, and walking the fine line between preventing the spread of evil and censorship.

Director: Hans Block, Moritz Riesewieck (Germany)

Language: English

Subtitles: Bahasa Malaysia

The Freedom Film Fest 2018 will be happening at PJ Live Arts and The School, Jaya One from 29 September to 6 October!

Check out these eight movies and the full programme list on FFF's website.

Entry to Masterclasses, Freedom Talks, premieres of FFF film grant films, and the awards ceremony are free, but require registration for a pass. Tickets for the rest of the films start from RM10. Register over here

Don't fret if you can't make it, as FFF will be travelling to these places between October to December:
- Georgetown, Penang
- Manjung, Perak
- Muar, Johor Bahru
- Kuching, Sarawak
- Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
- Singapore

For more updates, follow Freedom Film Fest on Facebook.

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