Chronicling the pandemic

Lyna Mohammad

A group of final-year students at Kolej International Graduate Studies (KIGS) had an epiphany: to record the impact of COVID-19 on Brunei economy in a documentary film, ‘COVID-19 and the Economy in Brunei Darussalam’ as part of their project on health and awareness.

The students – Nur Sajiidah Abu Bakar, Md Ahmad Dandarawi Zamain, Nurul Hamizah Mohamad Emran and Fatin Nabilah Muhd Bad – said the objective is to educate their audience on the impact of the global health crisis on businesses as well as the society.

Using a portion of the daily press conference on COVID-19 developments as the opener, the students shared details on the coronavirus such as how it spread across the globe and the range of symptoms exhibited by positive cases.

The team then provided a briefing on the developments of the outbreak and health measures set by the Ministry of Health (MoH) while showing responses from the public.

According to Nur Sajiidah, the idea of doing a documentary on COVID-19 impact on the local economy came from seeing certain businesses struggle due to the failure to adapt to the new normal while others prospered as they provided necessities amid a health crisis.

The highlight of the film, they said, were interviews with local entrepreneurs and how they overcame the limitations in operations amidst restrictive measures.

A poster of documentary ‘COVID-19 and the Economy in Brunei Darussalam’. PHOTO: LYNA MOHAMAD

“The challenging part was getting the footage,” said Md Ahmad Dandarawi. “We were trying to find people for interviews amid efforts to stem the tide of the outbreak.”

One of the interviewees they found was Hazirah, a full-time student and a part-time baker, who runs a business called Nurul’s Kitchen.

In the documentary, she shared that the siblings found the joy in creating meals at home at the height of the outbreak, as restrictive measures kept them homebound.

At the end of the film, there was a series of scenes on the re-opening of schools and other premises and the introduction of the BruHealth app. Nur Sajiidah’s experience as a broadcasting intern at Radio Television Brunei (RTB) helped her roles as the writer and the voice of the documentary. Similarly, Hamizah, who also interned for RTB but as a script writer, allowed her to explore her creative writing skills further while piecing the documentary together.

Taking up the role of an editor was Md Ahmad Dandarawi, who is a freelance videographer and photographer, skills that he gained by working with the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports.

Meanwhile, Fatin Nabilah has the strongest command of English in the team. During the making of the documentary, she served the role ofproviding assistance where needed.

“The business aspect of the film will be especially relevant to those who are directly affected by the pandemic, such as the government, decision makers, business entities, consumers and the public,” said Fatin Nabilah.

Nur Sajiidah added that even before the arrival of the coronavirus on Brunei shores, the government had been brainstorming measures to reduce the impact of the impending health crisis. Thus, “unlike other countries, Brunei didn’t resort to a lockdown”.