Participants from the Mengupas Cerita Documentary Film Initiative recently visited the Language and Literature Bureau Library to begin researching topics related to the Sultanate.
The filmmakers combed the library’s reference section and found potential subjects ranging from Bruneian folklore to traditional delicacy Pulut Panggang.
Filmmaker Hamizah binti Hamzah said, “The Language and Literature Bureau Library is a great resource and the librarians are knowledgeable. I was inspired after my visit and plan to continue developing my documentaries over multiple research visits. I hope more people take advantage of our valuable libraries.”
Mengupas Cerita is funded by a grant from the the United States (US) Embassy in Brunei Darussalam, representing the first concerted effort to promote the production of non-fiction films in the country and providing local filmmakers with the opportunity to share their researched and ethically sound perspectives with the global community. Mahakarya Institute of the Arts Asia is facilitating as the coordinator of the initiative by providing technical support and educational expertise to the participants.
The embassy said they are proud to support the initiative by Mahakarya Institute of the Arts Asia to promote civic education, culture and arts.
“The US Embassy Small Grants Programme aims to enhance mutual understanding between the people of the US and Brunei by supporting projects highlighting the shared values between the two countries, including civil society development, entrepreneurship and the digital economy,” said the embassy’s Public Affairs Officer Jeff Barrus.
Twelve Bruneians were selected for the initiative. The participants demonstrated excellent critical thinking skills as well as a strong work ethic – a must considering the participants will produce 120 mini-documentaries over the next four months.
Filmmaker Ida binti Patera said, “Each participant has a quota of 10 documentary films. At first, the amount seemed daunting especially because I’m still learning about the craft. The library visit opened my eyes to the potential subjects and now I think 10 films might not be enough.”
The programme also facilitates mentorships between the participants and established Hollywood filmmakers with experience producing content for Columbia Pictures Television, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and National Geographic.
According to project leader Dr Alex Fischer, “Mentorship is a critical ingredient in a filmmaker’s career. It is very satisfying to observe Bruniean filmmakers engaging with veteran Hollywood producers, directors and editors eager to connect and capacity build through the initiative.”