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

“This particular research will be looking 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. I hope this research trip will help me widen this conversation of the decolonial discourse in the UK,” - Qila. 

In collaboration with Freedom Film Fest, the film programme ‘Apa Kata Orang Asli’ showcased 3 films by Indigenous youth of Peninsular Malaysia from Temiah, Semai and Jakun community as part of ‘Native Spirit Festival’.  The lovely introduction by the filmmakers are currently available online -

The Native Spirit Festival featured rare stories of Malaysia’s indigenous culture through the lens of the native community themselves which often has been marginalised and oppressed. 

As part of the research, Qila was also interested in exploring the independent film culture and talents that are pushing boundaries in raring untold stories.  

Lucky to be able to connect with some wonderful filmmakers including Nanthakumaran Rajavijayan, Mien Ly, Putri Purnama Sugua and Adam Suharto whose films were shown for a whole month on Encounters Film Festival platform. The admiration for their work lies in their talent to masterfully balance aesthetics and storytelling within a localized lens. 

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

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

Get to know Qila Gill better!  

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. 

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