Featured Filmmaker: Anna Har, KOMAS
Name: Anna Har, Director, KOMAS (Pusat Komunikasi Masyarakat) Community Communication Centre.
Location: Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.
Focus: Human rights and democracy education; community empowerment.
KOMAS is currently doing several video projects such as Mari Kita Beraktivism, Selepas Tsunami, Gadoh, Real CIt ED - PSA series on rights of residents and local councils, Lot Umah Am and Huruf J (FFF2011 winners films), BERSIH2.0 and soon to be released, Ahli Majlis Penghubung Rakyat.
Most of the films are available on the KOMAS website.
- Drowning: a documentary on the Anti-Bakun Dam campaign.
- Zalim, Keras, Ganas: a video on police brutality.
- Bangsa Malaysia: a series of short educational films on the issue of discrimination.
- A cartoon and short film series on voters' rights and citizenship education.
- Through FreedomFilmFest, an annual film competition, KOMAS has produce three documentaries on human right issues in Malaysia every year since 2003.
In your own words
EngageMedia: Tell us more about KOMAS.
Anna Har: KOMAS was established in 1993 to support marginalised communities and human rights NGOs in Malaysia. It is a human rights NGO using creative methods to promote and advocate human rights.
We do facilitation, community organising and media training and we also produce resource materials. At present, our main programmes are on non-discrimination, citizenship and voter education, the FreedomFilmFest, and grassroots advocacy.
EM: How did KOMAS come to video as a medium? Why does KOMAS work with the moving image?
Anna: KOMAS was a pioneer in Malaysia in using video for community and human rights education. Video was one of the creative mediums that we could use to enhance education, awareness and advocacy of human rights. We also use other creative methodology and media such as cartoons, role play, photos and creative writing.
KOMAS is not a video production house nor do we specialise in producing films; rather, we see it as part of the strategic and creative use of media tools for the advocacy of human rights.
EM: What are the main issues you address in KOMAS video work?
Anna: Human rights issues in Malaysia - too many to mention - but in general it would be about democracy, freedom and non discrimination.
EM: Tell us about your favourite piece of video that KOMAS has made on the topic of social justice or the environment.
Anna: I have no particular favourites but Gadoh, a feature film on racism in schools, is a popular one with young people.
EM: How do you think online distribution is changing the field of independent video making? How do you use online tools in your work?
Anna: Online distribution combined with social media like Facebook and Twitter has made it very easy for alternative news and images and messages to get out there in a short time and has made spreading the word so much easier. It has also allowed normal people to make their own stories and share it with the world - so it's also democratised and increased the number of people who are in control of producing and distributing media.
We use online tools every day - it's become part of our daily work and lives to share and exchange and be updated about human rights issues.
If you know of any interesting filmmakers around Asia Pacific you'd like to see featured on EngageMedia.org, write to us today!