IACT Film Fest 2019 – Reel Stories on Mental Health
The IACT Film Festival (IFF) returned for its second-year over the weekend, celebrating a momentous year with a brand new venue and special guests. This year’s theme, “MENTAL-ity”, put the spotlight on mental health and learning disabilities. Through the medium of film, the festival sought to raise greater awareness and spark conversations around these pertinent concerns in modern-day society.
The student-led festival provides a platform for budding filmmakers to showcase their talent and also, the works of local directors and producers. The two-day event at GMBB mall, Bukit Bintang, hosted the public, students and special guests from the film industry.
Q&A session with award-winning ‘Redha’ director, Tunku Mona Riza
This year, the festival showcased selected works by IACT students and screened feature films by local filmmakers that touched on mental health and learning disabilities. Featured films for Day One included short film ‘The Enabler’ by Aiman Aliff, ‘Diri’ by Sharifah Aleysha and award-winning ‘Redha’ by Tunku Mona Riza.
A Q&A followed each screening as the directors answered questions from the floor, sharing their journey in creating their visual stories which had been inspired by events in their own lives. They also spoke on the process of transmuting script to screen.
Included in the film festival was an intimate session with the directors as they shared what sparked their passion for filmmaking, and their inspirations behind the featured films. With IACT lecturer Miss Mien moderating the session, the conversation delved into the powerful role of filmmakers as storytellers and the future of the Malaysian film industry in the international scene.
Q&A session with Singaporean Producer of multi-award nominated short film ‘Present’’ and BAFTA recipient Ser En Low
On Day Two, Singaporean Producer and BAFTA recipient Ser En Low gave a keynote talk on Producing, which was followed by a screening of her multi-award nominated short film ‘Present’. In her illuminating talk, Ser En shared her thrilling experience attending the BAFTAs last year, her fimmaking journey thus far and explored the many challenging yet rewarding roles of a producer.
The festival also hosted Dr. Marieke DeVries, a scholar on clinical neuropsychology from the University of Nottingham, who presented a talk on mental health and psychological well-being. She explored the portrayals of mental health in film and television, noting how mental health conditions, such as those portrayed in Joker (2019) and Black Swan (2010), can be arrestingly conveyed through the medium.
Director Saw Teong Hin sharing with his experiences with the audiences
Later, a special screening of ‘You Mean the World to Me’ by critically acclaimed director Saw Teong Hin received wide applause from the audience. The semi-autobiographical film — a tribute to his late mother — is a story of sacrifice, compassion and redemption. During the Q&A, Teong Hin answered questions on the film making process and shared his experience working with cinematographer Christopher Doyle.
The categories under IFF 2019 were Short Film, Documentary and Commercial and the submissions competed for the Audience’s Choice Award and Judge’s Choice with a RM500 cash prize for Judge’s Choice Award winners.
Under the Commercial category, the comical take on popular commercials ‘Hor Yan Hor’ took home both the Audience’s Choice Award and Judge’s Choice.
Clinching first prize in the Judge’s Choice Documentary was ‘Evicted’ — an investigative documentary on the gentrification of the city and displacement of poor communities squatting in a specific area in Kuala Lumpur. Judging for the prize was cinematographer Wong Chin Hor and Ser En Low.
The Audience’s Choice Documentary went to ‘Maternal Love’ which documents a mother’s experience as an organ donor following her young daughter’s sudden diagnosis of kidney disease.
‘Missed Call’,a film which follows the emotional story of a daughter’s bond with her father as she moves to the city for work, received the Audience Choice in Short Films. Interracial love story ‘Heartstrings’ shared the Judge’s Choice Award for Short Film with ‘Thirty Four’, both winners taking home the cash prize of RM500.
Runner-Up winner – ‘The Sculpture’ by Dehan Productions
Philip Rom, from Reservoir Productions, judged the final IACT Brand Story entries. Winning first prize of RM1, 000 and an opportunity to work with Reservoir Productions was ‘The Pursuit’. Placing runner-up was ‘The Sculpture’, taking home RM800.
Concluding the eventful night, Lawrence Chan, COO of IACT College, said in his closing speech, “IFF 2019 has been a great success. I hope this film festival inspires other student filmmakers out there to tell their stories through film and showcase their talent through this platform.”
Thanks to Radha Lakshimi for the wonderful write up!