2003 – 2004
Theme: The first FFF screening was held at HELP Institute in Kuala Lumpur in 2003 during which we showcased films produced by KOMAS and partners around the region, and launched our first call for entries for our film competition. The first Justin Louis Awards were given out to particpants in the student, amatuer, and professional categories
FFF2005 was held at the Actor Studio in Bangsar with the theme of Freedom of Information. Renowned documentary filmmakers from the region, Nana Buxani(Philippines), Lexy Rambadeta(Indonesia) and Martyn See(Singapore) were present to share their filmd during the festival.
At FFF2006 we introduced our first film proposal competition. The 4 best proposals won a grant of RM3000 to make a documentary with production guidance from KOMAS. The theme was “Freedom of Information”. This was the beginning of our series of yearly FFF films produced by grant winners of the competition.
The theme FFF2007 was “The Untold History of Merdeka” to coincide with Malaysia’s 50th year of Indepedence from British colonial rule. FFF was keen to highlight indepedence narratives that deviated from the official national narrative
The theme of the FFF2008 film competition was “Democratic Space” to coincide with the momentous 12th General Election in Malaysia that saw an unprecedented victory for Malaysian opposition parties. The films produced and selected for FFF2008 reflected the democratic processes that were taking place in Malaysia.
The theme of FFF2009 was “Real Change?”. 2009 marked the first international FFF screening. A group of Malaysian volunteers living in the UK organised a retrospective of FFF films in London. FFF 2009 screenings also reached a wider Malaysian audience, with screenings in Kuala Lumpur, Georgetown, Johor Baharu and Kuching.
The theme of FFF2010 was “Dare to Document”. FFF2010 marked a significant milestone for FFF as the Selangor and Penang state governments became co-organisers of FFF. FFF was also held in Singapore, and a second FFF screening was also held in London. The festival also traveled to Miri, Sarawak for the first time. Community screenings also extended to Perak and the interiors of Sarawak.
The theme of FFF2011 was “Dare to Document”. In 2011, the Selangor and Penang state governments continued to co-organise FFF. Hana Kulhankova, the festival director of One World International Human Rights Film Festival in Prague, the largest human rights’ film festival in the world, was our special guest and head judge. Special guests also included filmmakers Tanasit Kerbunsong and Panu Saeng-Xuto Duangporn Pakavirojkul from Thailand; a representative from the Thai Public Broadcast Station; Rangkid (a Media NGO) and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation. Community screenings extended to Seberang Perai, Penang and various areas in Johor.
FFF2012 marked the tenth anniversary of the festival, and the theme was “Democracy: Who’s the Boss?”. In celebration of FFF’s 10th anniversary, the festival was held on a larger scale as the Freedom Arts Fest at PJ Live Arts in Jaya One, Selangor. A variety of workshops were held so that festival goers could learn more about film, music, dance and art. During FFF2012, the festival began to focus on capacity building among local filmmakers through workshops with established filmmakers that were open to the public during the festival. The international reach of the festival continued with a third FFF screening in London jointly organised by SUARAM International, SOAS and KOMAS. FFF2012 also also travelled to Sibu, Sarawak and Kota Kinabalu, Sabah for the first time
The FFF2013 theme was “Switch On People Power”. In 2013, the three grant winning FFF2012 films made their online debut, with more than 60,000 hits for each film in a span of one week. Google Hangouts with the three filmmakers and special guests were also organised, and well received with a record breaking 3000 participants who had the opportunity to ask the filmmakers questions during the hangout. The film competition was also opened up to filmmakers from around the South East Asian region and non-documentary films with a human rights’ theme were also accepted. In the spirit of its mission to build capacity, the festival organised a masterclass with renown filmmaker Marcus Vetter
The FFF2014 theme was “Freedom”. In 2014, Freedom Film Festival screened 37 inspiring local and international shorts, films and documentaries around the theme of ‘Freedom’. The festival presented films that were cinematically engaging and culturally relevant from new and international filmmakers. The festival’s theme coincided with Malaysia’s Independence Day and Malaysia Day on 31st August and 16th September respectively. The objective of FFF2014 was to highlight the freedoms that have been won and the many freedoms that we still have to fight for through the perspectives of people and communities from around the world. As part of FFF’s continuing mission to contribute towards the Malaysian filmmaking community, festival goers were able to participate in filmmaker discussions and workshops. In 2014, FFF prodcued films were screened in Australia by the Malaysian Aspiration Program; at the Nuremberg International Human Rights Film Festival, Germany; and the largest international human rights film festival, the One World Film festival in the Czech Republic.