The Borneo Eco Film Festival (BEFF) is now in its fourth year of operation with its headquarters in Sabah, Malaysia. A major part of BEFF is SUARA (“voice” in Bahasa Malaysia) Komuniti, a community filmmaking programme consisting of a series of workshops throughout the year and culminating in an intensive workshop immediately prior to and in parallel with the annual Festival. The overall emphasis of the programme is on supporting community members to communicate their stories, experiences and worldviews relating to Borneo’s biological and cultural heritage in their own voices. SUARA Komuniti participants to date have included a range of Indigenous peoples and local communities from across Sabah, Malaysia, many of whom are working alongside local or national non-governmental organisations such as Partners of Community Organisations in Sabah, Borneo Conservancy Initiative, Hutan, Camps International, and the World Wide Fund for Nature Malaysia to support community conservation initiatives.
The 2014 SUARA Komuniti programme kicked off with its first workshop from 7-10 February in Bundu Tuhan, Sabah, which Holly Jonas (Natural Justice) helped document as a member of the BEFF Board of Directors. The workshop focused on storytelling and was run by veteran SUARA trainer and multimedia talent Zan Azlee Zainal Abidin and two new Sabahan trainers, portrait photographer Flanegan Bainon and writer Evangeline Majawat. Sessions included technical and practical topics such as creative use of multimedia, the ‘three-act’ structure, photo essays, and development of mind-maps and storyboards. The more than 40 community participants worked hard to develop ideas and draft storyboards for short films, which they will further develop at the second SUARA workshop on production techniques (tentatively scheduled for May). Photos will soon be posted on the BEFF and Natural Justice Facebook pages.