This year, the George Town Festival’s programme features many film screenings of all genres and orientating from multiple continents. There is undoubtedly something for everyone! To help guide you through the vast selection, here are a few of the highlights!
1. First They Killed My Father (2017)
The 2017 film ‘First They Killed my Father’ is a Golden Globe-nominated adaption of Loung Ung’s memoir concerning her experience growing up under the reign of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Co-written and directed by Angelina Jolie, it has received largely positive reviews for its skilful telling of an often ignored history through the eyes of a young child deeply affected by the war and political turmoil around her. It is being screened on Sunday 5th August 2018 at 5pm at Bangunan U.A.B, China Street Ghaut. You can register for a free ticket at
If you are interested in the history and culture of Cambodia, it might also be worth seeing ‘Cambodia: Witness to Change’ an exhibition about an eight year long project in which students documented the work of the NGOs in the country today. This will be running from the 4th of August to the 2nd of September at Wisma yeap Chor Ee, also on China Street Ghaut. https://georgetownfestival.com/programmes/cambodia-witness-to-change
2. Blue Gate Crossing (2002)
Part of the series of Taiwanese film screenings running in the fourth week of the festival, Yet Chih-yen’s second film will be be screened at Mano Plus on Beach Street. It is a classic coming
-of-age story but with an inherently Taiwanese essence, and is infused with questions of identity and sexuality. The film was well received when it was initially released making it perfect for this series of screenings giving us a glimpse into Taiwanese ci
nematic heritage. It is being shown on Thursday 16th August at 7pm and you can register for a free ticket
3. Diary for Prasana (2017)
Norhayati Kaprawi’s documentary ‘Diary for Prasana’ documents a fragment of a Indira Gandhi’s life and desire to be reunited with her daughter after seven years of separation. As a Hindu, she was denied the right to see her daughter, Prasana, after her ex-husband converted to Islam. The documentary traces her fight against the constitutional law of unilateral conversion in Malaysia. The film was featured at the Freedom Film Festival, a celebration of social documentaries created in Malaysia, particularly in relation to the values found within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This one in particular raises stark questions about religion, custody rights, and the impact of the these conventions on individuals, and should be well worth seeing for its relevance in today’s society.
The film will be screened on Saturday 11th August at 3pm at Scoopoint, 46 Weld Quay, and will be followed by a discussion between the director, Norhayati Kaprawi, Indira Ghandi and Lalitha Menon, the vice president of ‘Women Central for Change’ in Penang. Register for a free ticket here: https://georgetownfestival.com/programmes/project-batu-lesung-diary-for-prasana
The event is part of a series called ‘Project Batu Lesung’ by Sisters in Islam and their other events can be found on the George Town Festival website.
4. Secret Screenings
Throughout August, the George Town Festival will show four films, all controversial and which provoked a lot of attention around their release for different reasons. The essence of the series lies in its mystery and the hush hush approach, necessitated by the impossibility of promoting the films in Malaysia due to the taboo subject matters of the films. Registration is done online, and on the day of the screening the location will be emailed to each attendee. Only once viewers reach the location will the film be revealed. The films selected should be thought provoking, while the secretive atmosphere around the screenings will really add to the sense of these films dealing with subjects which threaten the status quo. All viewers must be over 18. To sign up, visit the George Town Festival website here https://georgetownfestival.com/programmes/gtf-secret-screenings. The screenings will take place every Thursday from the 9th to the 30th of August at 8pm and are free of charge.
5. SeaShorts Film Festival
Over the course of five days, from August 1st to the 5th, SeaShorts (Southeast Asian Film Festival) will showcase more than 120 short films from Southeast Asia in 11 special programs, including ‘My Student Film’, ‘Return of Salt Boy 1,2 & 3’, ‘Mahakarya Pertama’ (First Masterpieces), ‘Screening Borders and Boundaries’, ‘S-Express’, ‘Philms and Cheeps: SEA Animated Snacks’, ‘Me and Me’: Japanese Female Artists Now’, ‘Love Letters To/From Japan’, ‘The Window Is Closed, Partially’, ‘FLY Program’, and ‘Shortcuts’. They will be shown at Hin Bus Depot on Jalan and at Bangunan UAB on China Street Ghaut, and the full programme booklet is available to download at http://www.nextnewwave.com.my/seashorts-programme/. Daily passes cost RM 50 and can be applied for here: http://www.nextnewwave.com.my/seashorts-passregistration
Another film event worth noting is not actually a screening but a talk about the decline of the Malaysian film industry, What Happened To Malay Films? on Sunday 5th August at 10am at Bangunan UAB. Notable names such as directors Shanjhey Kumar Perumal and Dain Said amoungst others, will be meeting to discuss the reasons for the quietening of Malay film production after its heyday in the middle of the 20th century. This promises to be an interesting look at the past and future of Malaysian filmmaking. Attendance is free of charge, and registration can be found here https://georgetownfestival.com/programmes/tanjung-talks-what-happened-to-malay-films. However please note that the talk will (appropriately) be in Malay!
By Ella Benson Easton