Two years after facing the pandemic head on in the Sultanate and successfully managing each wave that has hit the country, the people begin anew as they refuse to let COVID-19 hinder their daily life.
Having been practising standard operating procedures (SOPs) since the beginning of the first wave, the populace is now accustomed to health guidelines as they look to move on with their lives.
The creative industry is no different. Individuals continue to try and make a name for themselves.
In the music industry, local singers were acknowledged and awarded during the coveted Pelangi Awards in June. Local artiste Putri Norizah was presented with Exclusive Award in recognition of her contribution in the business both locally and internationally.
Faizul Razali won the Chosen Male Vocal Award; Eia won the Chosen Female Award; and Asmai, Waz, Swanz and Aziz Harun won the Chosen Duo/Group Vocal Award.
Meanwhile, Rizal Rasid received the New Artiste Award; while Khilaf, composed by Faizul Razali and Fadil A Band Once, won the Chosen Song Award. Satu, composed by Juan Madial and performed by Habib Adanan won the Chosen Inspirational Song Award; and Perbatasan, produced by The Content Fuel and directed by Nazmo and Hanif Iqbal, won the Chosen Music Video Award.
Held every two years and hosted by Radio Television Brunei (RTB), the Pelangi Awards serve as an extension of appreciation for local artistes active in music arts, including singing and song creation.
It hopes to encourage local talent to produce more high-quality works and improve the local entertainment arena.
Taking on the international stage, Bruneian artiste Dila Junaidi and her band, The Stars, participated in the ASEAN-Korea Music Festival’s Round 2021 in January where she performed five songs.
Featuring 15 musicians from Korea and nine from ASEAN, the six-hour online festival was hosted by state-run broadcaster KBS and sponsored by Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the ASEAN-Korea Cooperation Fund (AKCF) and the ASEAN Secretariat.
The AKCF hoped that Round 2021 would strengthen the cultural bond and support between ASEAN and Korea through music, while providing an opportunity for the younger generation from various countries to communicate through music and promoting the formation of an active pop music network connecting the countries.
In the field of film and cinematography, Mahakarya Institute of the Arts Asia (MIAA) is actively cultivating local talents and skills, especially through collaborations with Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA) and Kolej International Graduate Studies (KIGS) in its most recent Brunei Islamic Film Festival (BIFF) in March.
Titled ‘Islamic Film Genre: Questions, Possibilities and Implications for the Bruneian Screen Industry’, MIAA introduced the film festival in the Sultanate dedicated to Islamic content as part of the annual Brunei Film Blitz.
The festival started with a symposium for participants to explore the concept of film genre and what it means to have an Islamic Bruneian screen identity, with the aim to pave a roadmap for academic investigation on the Bruneian Islamic screen identity.
The symposium ended with a filmmaking workshop where participants applied what had been discussed at the symposium and put them to practice.
During the workshop, participants were given various filmmaking exercises such as ideation, cinematography, sound recording and editing.
Mentorships were available for participants over the next two weeks while they produced their Islamic short films, which were screened at the end of March.
The screening at the BIFF Awards Night saw Q Fikri’s Langkah winning the Islamic Short Film Award, while Hati-Hati Dengan Mata by Muhammad Haziq Aniq bin Hanip was awarded the Jury Award.
With BIFF, it was discovered there were many stories yet to be told while mentors explored ideas with participants who came up with different perspectives and chose to tell stories in their own unique ways as various genres were incorporated into the Bruneian Islamic content.
The shortlisted films explored various Islamic themes, including love, conversion to Islam, mental health, life struggles and daily Islamic practices.
The event aimed at encouraging Islamic filmmaking in the Sultanate to provide a point of departure for future academic studies.
Meanwhile, Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) has encouraged, fostered and cultivated the various forms of art through its annual Spectrum event, which presents an opportunity to showcase individual and collective skillsets gathered in the students’ four years of studies in UBD while serving as a means for them to express themselves through their disciplines.
Fifty-three final year undergraduates of UBD’s Design and Creative Industries (DCI) programme unveiled their graduation exhibition ‘Spectrum 2022: Infinite’ following the motto ‘Exploring the Unbounded Depth of Creativity’ for this year’s Spectrum, delving beyond the limitation of artistic ideals in a contemporary manner through their creative projects.
The works displayed fine arts, digital arts and design, installations, media production to publication, product design, concept architecture and interior design, as well as fashion design.
The exhibition was open to the public from May 23 to June 23, and also featured gallery talks that saw six to seven students sharing their creative and artistic practices as well as process behind creating the exhibited works.
While there has not been significant movement in the field of fashion since the beginning of the pandemic as travel restrictions have stopped local fashion designers from travelling to showcase their designs, discussions about future-proofing the fashion industry are actively carried out with fashion designers from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
One such discussion was held virtually as part of the 3rd Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Budayaw Festival in December 2021 on the impact of COVID-19 on the fashion industry.
Fadzil Hadin of Chantique Brunei based in Dubai, Indonesian fashion designer Emmy Thee who is known for highlighting sustainable fashion, Emi Eglis representing the Philippines known for his use of traditional fashion in his modern design and Anna Sue Couture owner Dr Sharifah Shukran, better known as Anna Sue in the fashion world, attended the event.
The dialogue sessions featured discussions on how COVID-19 affected the fashion industry, particularly the cancellation of fashion shows.
The designers said the pandemic has pushed them to be more creative, adapt to the new normal by making use of technology and hold virtual fashion shows.
Designers have also been pushed to think outside of the box by collaborating with other creatives such as photographers and videographers.
The fashion designers agreed that COVID-19 has brought people in the industry closer and to be more prepared in facing challenges together.
The event also showcased the designers’ collections via a short fashion film.