In an attempt to de-westernise colonial gaze and narrative, London based film curator, Qila Gill embarked on a research trip to Malaysia to learn and connect with Freedom Film Network and a group of diverse Malaysian filmmakers, including young indigenous Malaysians using cameras as a medium to reclaim their heritage and narrative. 

“This particular research looked at indigenous and local culture beyond the western context. I believe it's important to look at work outside the western context when we speak about past colonial ruling and how it has affected many different communities - as the residues vary from one community to another. This research trip has helped me widen this conversation of the decolonial discourse in the UK,” - Qila.

The pandemic cut the trip short, but the research and collaboration continued online.

In partnership with Freedom Film Network's Freedom Film Festival, the film programme ‘Apa Kata Orang Asli’ showcased 3 films (Roots of My Land, Secret of the Forest Guardian and The Forest, My Clinic) by Indigenous youth of Peninsular Malaysia from Temiah, Semai and Jakun community. The lovely introduction by the filmmakers are available online.

Qila also collaborated with The Native Spirit Festival to feature these rare stories of Malaysia’s indigenous culture through the lens of the native community themselves which often has been marginalised and oppressed, at the ‘Native Spirit Festival’ from 14 - 16 October 2021.

As part of the research, Qila was also interested in exploring Malaysian independent film culture and talents that are pushing boundaries in raring untold stories. through the research, Qila connected with some wonderful Malaysian filmmakers including Nanthakumaran Rajavijayan, Mien Ly, Putri Purnama Sugua and Adam Suharto whose films were shown for a whole month (February 2022) on the Encounters Film Festival platform. The admiration for their work lies in their talent to masterfully balance aesthetics and storytelling within a localised lens. 

The intention of the curation of both programmes is to offer a glimpse into rarely publicised authentic perspectives rather than the conventional portrayals of native tribes, or politically sanctioned narratives in the global mainstream media. 

This project is part of Qila’s ongoing curatorial work to decolonise the screen.

Qila Gill

Qila Gill is a London based film curator. Qila’s research interest lies within the frameworks of fragility, sensitivity and inclusivity within ethnicity and ethical discourse and embodiment. Qila has programmed for BFI London Film Festival (Experimenta), Aesthetica Film Festival, Sheffield Doc/Fest and currently is the International Lead Programmer at London Short Film Festival. 

Freedom Film Network

Freedom Film Network is a not-for-profit body established to support and develop social documentary filmmaking within the context of freedom of expression and values contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in Malaysia.

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