Film Festival

10 Films you cannot miss at the Kota Kinabalu International Film Festival 2016


We present a list of 5 Feature Films and 5 Short Films worth watching at the Kota Kinabalu International Film Festival that is taking place from July 8th – 17th in Kota Kinabalu (Malaysia).

Full Feature Film

Born into Brothels

Born into Brothels by Ross Kauffaman and Zana Briski – US | 2004 – 140 min.

Briski, a documentary photographer, went to Kolkata to photograph prostitutes. While there, she befriended their children and offered to teach the children photography to reciprocate being allowed to photograph their mothers. The children were given cameras so they could learn photography and possibly improve their lives. The resulting photographs, often astonishing, were exhibited around the world; many of them are seen in this film, which won the Academy Award for best documentary feature in 2005.

Briski also recorded her efforts to place the children in boarding schools although many of the children did not end up staying very long in the schools they were placed in. Others, such as Avijit and Kochi not only went on to continue their education, but did very well.

Trailer (will open in a new window)

Busong Palawan Fate

Busong – Palawan Fate by Kanakan Balintagos – Philippines | 2011 – 90 min.

Punay was born with wounds on her feet so that she cannot step on the earth. Her brother, Angkadang, carries her in a hammock, as he searches through the changing landscape of Palawan, hoping to find a healer who can cure her. Different people help him carry his sister along the way- a woman looking for her husband, a fisherman who lost his boat and a young man who is searching for himself – and each one meets their fate in

Palawan has a pristine landscape of Forest, Sea and Mountain- on the verge of environmental destruction and exploitation.

Trailer (will open in a new window)

The Man Next Door

El hombre de al lado (The Man Next Door) by Gastón Duprat and Mariano Cohn
Argentina| 2009 – 109 min.

A story that exposes a clash between neighbours, and how these neighbours deal with their differences. Leonardo is a rich and successful designer with a passion for architecture. On the other hand, Victor is a used car salesman who is rough around the edges. The conflict of the movie arises when Leonardo discovers that Victor is building a window on the dividing wall.

Throughout the movie, the men argue back and forth about the window and the problem seems irresolvable. But is Victor in the wrong? Is he really a ‘neighbour from hell’? This is a fascinating drama about class, communication, and the limits of tolerance.

Trailer (will open in a new window)


Ilsa (As One) by Chuck Gutierrez – Philippines | 2015 – 90 min.

IISA / AS ONE is a narrative feature about a never ending war, a town ravaged by a devastating storm and the woman caught in between.

Mindanao, Philippines – When a strong typhoon hits an armed-conflict mountain, the face of war suddenly changes. Ross, 28, belongs to a group of rebels tasked to rebuild the destroyed homes of people.

Their community is far from the reach of any government’s basic services, but has long been penetrated by corporate mining projects, which caused destruction to their environment. Ross and her group must get supplies to rebuild their broken lives. She encourages her people to go back to farming. When the aid from the Philippine government fails to arrive in their town, Ross seeks for relief donations from international groups.

This is the beginning of her life’s complication. She finds out that the town governor is hoarding the relief goods from the United Nations. As she goes down from the hidden mountain, she will be exposed to her enemy, the Philippine military.

Trailer (will open in a new window)

the blue bird

The Blue Bird (Aoi Tori) by Kenji Nakanishi – Japan | 2008 – 105 min.

Higashigaoka Junior High School is in turmoil as one of the pupils, Noguchi, who had been bullied, committed suicide last term. On the first day of the new term, a substitute teacher arrives to take the second year class.

When the teacher, Murauchi, introduces himself, the pupils are surprised by his stutter. Unable to speak eloquently, Murauchi faces his pupils with ‘words of truth’. His first instruction to the pupils is to return Noguchi’s desk and chair to the original place in the classroom. Every morning Murauchi greets the empty desk, “Good morning, Noguchi.” This causes a ripple beyond the classroom and among other teachers and parents, but Murauchi will not stop doing it. Eventually the day comes when Murauchi must leave.

Trailer (will open in a new window)


Short Films

Charred Brick
Charred Brick by Sein Lyan Tun – Myanmar

Young Thet never stops working all day. From early morning, he helps his parents with household chores and cares for his four younger siblings. He washes dishes, does the laundry, chops wood and goes to work in the brickworks, because his parents don’t earn enough money to feed the family. This is the story of many children in Burma. After a day’s toil, Thet attends night school so he can achieve his goal of becoming an engineer. But can he achieve his dream?


Gopal by Sherwynn Victor – Malaysia

கோபால் (GOPAL) is a story about Gopal, a trash-picker who is surviving and always striving to be successful in the world he is living in. His daily routine is picking up trash, and collecting leftovers of food in a restaurant. This short film is based on the transition of how Gopal reflects everything he sees.


Mousse by John Hellberg – Sweden | 2014 – 41 min.

What could be easier than robbing a small bookie place on the outskirts of town? It’s during the year’s biggest horse race event and the betting center Washington’s Tobacco looks like the ultimate hit for some fast cash. Mousse is a man of pride and principles and is fed up with living as a second-class citizen. But what happens when he faces principles different to his own?

Trailer (will open in a new window)

The Curse of Serawan

The Curse of Serawan by Ian Yee – Malaysia

Deep in the jungles of the Royal Belum State Park, orang asli children are dying from a mysterious illness – and the authorities don’t seem to know about it.

The Story of 90 Coins

The Story of 90 Coins by Michael Wong – Malaysia | 2015 – 10 min.

‘The Story of 90 Coins’ unfolds through a special promise of love and happiness made by one male passionate lover to a seemingly reluctant girl. Ninety coins symbolize ninety days the guy gives himself to convince the girl to marry him by showing her his true color and prove his intentions. Everything seems to go quite well as the two, in fact, fall in love. But time passes and the romance bubble deflates as reality breaks in with its daily routine, ambiguity, and incomprehension. Will they be able to overcome this critical passage or will they put an end to what it started so pure and beautiful?

Without spoiling the finale, the short film reminds: “Don’t let a promise just be a beautiful memory” which somehow invites to not surrender to the hard moments of love but to try trusting its capacity of resilience and re-launch it in a greater perspective. In sum, try not to kill something beautiful as you may regret for the rest of your life.

For more information about the festival please visit the FESTIVAL PROFILE.

To know where and when they are going to screen this movie you can check the official website here: Kota Kinabalu International Film Festival

AFF would like to remember readers that the Kota Kinabalu International Film Festival is part of our partnership program (See all partners). We want to thank them for their support and wish you guys have a great edition.

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