Malaysia is home to some truly talented filmmakers. But did you know that there are award-winning Sabahan filmmakers?
Here’s a list of eight filmmakers from Sabah who are not only making their family and friends proud, but Malaysia too!
Putri Purnama Sugua is a multiple award-winning filmmaker whose passion lies in telling stories with stateless children.
Her short film, Rumah Nda Bertanah was awarded ‘Best Director’ and ‘Best Screenplay’ at Pesta Filem Kita 2019 and was nominated for the Snow Leopard Scholarship at the 6th Asian World Film Festival organised by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA).
The Sandakan filmmaker is an alumni of the ASEAN-ROK Film Leaders Incubator and Busan International Film Festival’s Asian Film Academy.
Mallory Lee is a Sino-Dusun filmmaker who hails from Kota Kinabalu.
He began shooting on film, which later informed his digital filmmaking style in the way he paints his main subjects in light. He has worked on commercials as well as personal short films.
Gold! There’s Gold in the River made the BMW Shorties 2017 Top 10 and received the Audience’s Choice Award. His debut feature film, Stranger Than Love, an experimental romance film premiered at the Malaysian International Film Fest 2020.
He is currently based in Kuala Lumpur.
Farizie Morinding is a cultural performer and filmmaker from Ranau whose artistry is rooted in his indigenous Dusun heritage.
In 2008 his Dusun-language film, Odoi Odu won Best Short Film at the Astro Kirana Short Film Awards 2008/2009. His subsequent short films, Dialah Nenekku (My Dear Grandma) and Lu Os have won awards at the Kota Kinabalu International Film Festival, respectively taking the Special Jury Prize in 2014 and then the Golden Kinabalu Award in 2018.
In 2015, ‘Kondosom Guhod’, a news bulletin that Farizie produced won the Anugerah Laporan Khas Berita Terbaik at Anugerah Skrin TV3, making him the first RTM reporter to receive this prestigious award.
Farizie hopes to put Borneo’s diversity and indigenous cultures on a global stage.
Geoffrey Sinn is a Tawau-borne animator and multimedia content producer who began his training between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
He returned to Sabah in 2008 and co-founded All-4-One Studios in 2012 where they began from scratch with corporate videos before moving on to animation, an industry that is still in its infancy in Sabah.
All-4-One has since supported animation works from the U.S., Canada, and Singapore all while in Sabah. After overwhelming responses from Legend of Ancient Borneo, Geoffrey’s dream has been to one day produce an authentic animated series for Sabahan audiences.
Anwar Johari Ho is a filmmaker of Bajau-Chinese descent from Kota Kinabalu.
He is an MA Film graduate of the Minghella Studios at the University of Reading, UK. ‘Forget Me Not’ made its European Premiere when it was in competition at the 20minmax Film Festival 2020 in Ingolstadt.
His subsequent short film, Burung Burung premiered at the 15th Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival and is currently traveling film festivals globally. Anwar is currently based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia where he works as a film director for a media company called Fun Entertainment.
He is currently in early development for his feature film, Under Foreign Skies; which would be a direct continuation of the story of Forget Me Not.
Upon graduating from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) with a Bachelors of Arts (Cinematography), Ekin Kee Charles returned to her hometown of Kota Marudu to make a simple short film with her family titled Pace.
The film won Best Editing and the Grand Prize at the 13th BMW Shorties, making Ekin the first indigenous and East Malaysian winner. An enthusiastic storyteller, Ekin hopes to colour the local film industry with more indigenous stories inspired by her Dusun heritage.
She is an alumni of Action! Asia, an exchange program for film students in Japan. Her most recent short film Rama-Rama is currently being submitted to film festivals. Ekin is now based in Kuala Lumpur where she is working as a freelancer on various film productions.
Anel Sahfihie is a filmmaker from Tenom, the agricultural capital of Sabah. In 2018 he graduated from University Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) with a Bachelors of Arts (Cinematography).
Anel and his university mates formed Projek Langit and together, they pitched for Pesta Filem Kita which received a short film grant for Hembus. The Dusun-language short film marked a strong directorial debut by Anel as it won several prizes at Pesta Filem Kita 2019 as well as the 16th Mini Film Festival.
Anel hopes to make more films set in Tenom that depict his town’s rich cultural diversity as well as native folklore. Anel is still cutting his teeth in film production, working as a freelancer in Kota Kinabalu.
Iroet Marteni is a teacher at SK Tampulan Telipok who uses film and multimedia as educational tools for his students.
In 2018, the school produced short films for Sabah Screen Fest, which garnered awards but it wasn’t until Tuhau vs Zombies that they became a viral sensation with 21.5 million hits on YouTube.
Since then, the school has participated in international student film festivals in Slovenia, South Korea, Japan, and more. He hopes that more Malaysian teachers would consider using film as a teaching tool and welcomes industry members who can assist schools with the technical aspects of film production as well as film appreciation.
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Cover image for 8 Award-Winning Sabahan Filmmakers Making Malaysia Proud Internationally supplied by Telan Bulan Films.