Curtin Malaysia’s Kenyalang Film Festival shines spotlight on emerging filmmakers

Miri, Sarawak – 4 July 2024 – The Department of Media and Communication of Curtin University Malaysia’s Faculty of Humanities and Health Sciences recently wrapped up its second Kenyalang Film Festival (KFF), leaving a lasting impression on participants and attendees alike.

Held in conjunction with Curtin Malaysia’s 25th Anniversary Celebration, the KFF attracted over 60 Malaysian students and Borneo filmmakers, including Curtin’s own Bachelor of Communications students, who showcased an impressive array of documentaries and short films. The event was proudly supported by Sarawak Media Group (TV Sarawak), FINAS Sarawak, and Freedom Film Network.

The festival featured two categories: the Student Category and the Open Category. In the Student Category, Foon Jun Xiang and his team Studio 12 from UOW Malaysia KDU Penang clinched the Best Documentary Award with their captivating entry, ‘Journey to Beyond.’  Meanwhile, the Best Short Film Award in the same category was awarded to ‘Dropping Ashes,’ directed by Phang Jing Xian and the team from the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas).

SMK Tinjar students led by Mohd. Arash Nazri earned the Jury’s Award with their short film ‘Hilang,’ and Curtin’s Bachelor of Communications student Benedict Foo Wei Loong, along with his Pineapple Media Team 1.5, received the Curtin 25th Anniversary Special Award for their Mid-Autumn Festival documentary.

In the Open category, Sydney Augustine Anak Assom’s ‘Gendang Rayah: Tradition and Religion’ won for Best Documentary, while Alester Leong and MStudios & Pixbugs Film took home the Best Short Film Award for ‘Abdul Taib Mahmud: The Untold Story.’

Dr. Ngu Ik Ying, head of the Department of  Media and Communication, expressed delight at the overwhelming response, with entries doubling from last year and participants traveling from Penang, Kuching, and Baram. “The event successfully brought together talented individuals, enabling them to interact with our students and the local community through the celebration of film,” she remarked.

The two-day screenings, held at Cinema Lite on Curtin Malaysia’s campus, kicked off with a creative research methodologies webinar by Curtin University academic Dr. Michelle Johnston, and concluded with an inter-campus dialogue with academic staff and students from Curtin’s main campus in Perth. Prior to the festival, the Department of Media and Communication collaborated with Pustaka Negeri Sarawak, Miri on a talk and pre-event screening, showcasing award-winning short films and documentaries from previous KFF editions.

Looking ahead, Dr. Ngu announced plans to open the next film festival to international filmmakers, hoping to garner more support from the university, state government, and local communities.

Ryan Lee, Sarawak Media Group’s content acquisition and distribution manager and one of the judges, was impressed by the students’ enthusiasm and expressed hope for continued growth of local talent through this platform.

KFF organising chairmain Goh Guang Ao shared his excitement about the event, describing it as a “mind-blowing experience.” He valued the opportunity to connect with other filmmakers and enjoyed the diverse entries from Curtin University in Australia, West Malaysia, and local production houses.

Information on Curtin Malaysia can be found on its website at, or look for Curtin Malaysia on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, and TikTok.

Dr Ngu (second left) presenting Jury’s Award to the SMK Tinjar team

KFF winners in a group photo with Dr. Marcelo Schellini, Ryan Lee, and Dr. Ngu (second row seated from second left)

Open Category Best Short Film winner Alester Leong sharing his production experience with the audience