Bengoh film turn heads in Kuching!
A very positive review of the film by Hornbill Unleashed-`boost for participatory democracy in Sarawak’:
The Freedom Film Fest received an enthusiasic welcome when it came to Kuching and Miri during the last weekend of October.
This is the fourth year this excellent film festival has come to Sarawak, showing challenging films about human rights, politics and democracy, sexuality, religion, indigenous people’s issues and society – far more intriguing films than the standard commercial drivel in our cineplexes.
The five films screened were free, in more sense than one. The festival was open to all Sarawakians, and all were welcome, with only a collection box going around.
The crowd in Kuching were mostly young, bubbly and courteous. There were around 300 people packed into the narrow conference room at the Harbour View Hotel.
Many of the participants – for they weighed into debates and discussions, and were not simply a passive audience – were college students, from all ethnic groups.
Driven from their land and robbed
The ‘sensitive’ subject matter of the films included the failure of empty promises by BN politicians to poor Bidayuh communities in Bengoh.
The film also examined the failure of PKR to offer a credible candidate as an alternative to BN’s lies and corruption in Bengoh during the April state election.
The Bengoh villagers were eventually driven from their land, and taxpayers were robbed of public money.
This dam is a shameful project, ostensibly planned to supply clean water to Kuching until 2030, but is in fact clearly designed to divert the flow of taxpayers’ money into the bank accounts of cronies of the BN chief minister in tax havens abroad.
The film-makers, represented by Joachim Leong, had trekked for many hours with cameras to visit villagers displaced by the dam.
The film pointed out the material hardships the villagers faced, and the broken BN promises of a resettlement area with modern amenities.
At least 20 families have built their own resettlement village upstream, ignoring the government’s promise for a resettlement (one that remains unbuilt, until today).
The cameras followed these villagers’ hike uphill, carrying their own planks and building materials, to a plateau with astoundingly beautiful views over the misty hills.
These families have been threatened by the BN that they will not receive ‘development’, in retaliation for their defiance.
But these villagers know only too well that the BN had promised ‘development’ to Batang Ai and Bakun communities, but had only delivered hardship, dependency and bitter disappointment.
A boost for participatory democracy
Read more here.