Interview with Festival Director of KLEFF, Fadly Bakhtiar

KLEFF Festival Director, Mr. Fadly Ahmad BakhtiarKLEFF Festival Director, Mr. Fadly Ahmad Bakhtiar

The KLEFF crew caught up with Festival Director of KLEFF, Fadly Bakhtiar recently as he works on this year’s preparation for the festival. Fadly has been the KLEFF’s festival director for the last two years, having taken over from Yasmin Rasyid, who is not the honorary advisor for KLEFF. In this interview, Fadly shares his journey as a Festival Director and also gives us a glimpse of what is in store this year at the 8th KLEFF, happening from 16th-18th October 2015 at Publika.

KLEFF:  How has your experience been serving as the Festival Director last year and this year?

FABS: I was involved in KLEFF since the first year in 2008, as a volunteer, and last year I was appointed as the Festival Director, so I would say my learning curves and the opportunities increased in a more organic way. It is certainly a great experience for me personally; being part of EcoKnights big mission to provide access to better environmental contents i.e. films, activities, efforts, products and services to grassroots Malaysians especially in the Klang Valley. This year would be my second year so there will be bigger responsibilities for all of us and improvements from last year’s show.

KLEFF:  The 2015 Call for Entries has just been announced, what are some of your aspirations or predictions in terms of submissions from film makers this year? Would you expect to see more film submissions from the Malaysian film makers? Why?

FABS: For some people (including us), to a large extend it’s about numbers. Increased number of submissions, increased number of attendance, increased number of media exposure, etc. That definitely gives us some credibility. However for me every year is different in its own way for a few reasons in terms of film submissions.

The local and global environmental trend changes every now and then. Some years ago it electric car was a hot topic, and then couple of years back it was nuclear and energy, and last year people are more interested in food i.e. GMO, permaculture, although generally the main topics are consistent: environmental issues and possible solutions. We’ve been receiving submissions since early this month (March) and let’s see what is the main subject. Our team have been talking (for a while) about focusing on few main subjects at a theme for each year but there’s a risk that we may not get as many films as we would expect, plus I always believe in the idea of diversity, so we accept any subject, so long it’s related to environment.

We are in the middle of finalising our collaborations with few local universities. Part of the collaborative work is that the students have to produce environmental related films as their class project and at the same time submit to our Festival. So there’s definitely submissions from Malaysians. We are also sending out invitation to YouTube film makers and call for film submission on social media. Our approach is to communicate with them and inform them about KLEFF.

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KLEFF:  Can you share with us on what is in the pipeline for this year's Festival? When and where will it take place?

FABS: This year we hope to continue improving and strengthen the main components of the festival especially for Green Market and our community workshops. We are also organising the second series of EcoKnights Corporate Sustainability Forum that involves various industry leaders to talk about sustainability in business.

Last year we had four international film makers attending our festival (United Kingdom, Republic of Serbia and China). We hope this year more will come and maybe with that we can organise a separate forum/workshop with the film makers.

KLEFF:  What are some of the challenges you faced organizing a not-for-profit Festival such as this?

FABS: The main challenge is to make everyone understand the importance of organising this Festival (or any other education-based festival). I would say that KLEFF is one of the very few grassroots environmental festival that is considerably big (in terms of attendance and content-wise), taking the whole of a shopping mall over the weekend to educate people about what’s happening in our world. Not just that, we also travel around the country and provide free environmental talks and film screening to schools, universities, residence associations and public areas to promote a more environmental education, awareness and sustainable living practices. By understanding the importance, then it will create demand. Government agencies and corporate organisations need to see that supporting this Festival will have direct impact towards society. They also need to see by supporting programs like KLEFF (through funding and other kind of support), they are creating values for their brands and at the same time benefiting the communities and Malaysia.

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KLEFF:  Do you think, that after 8 years, KLEFF has managed to be a household name? If yes, why? If no, why?

FABS: Yes and no.

Yes: We are still growing. Our consistency proves that we are somewhat accepted by a group of public (5,000 visitors a year). We are the first to organise such event (environmental film festival) in Malaysia, and it seems like the biggest too. Every year we constantly looking for ways to improve our Festival. It also provides the platform for many people to be part of: as exhibitor, vendor, film maker, speaker, participant. You will see different type of people at our festival and that’s beautiful. We organised the inaugural Langkawi Eco Film Fest last year in (guess where), and this year we are going to continue it.

No: Eight years is still new. It makes it more challenging when “environment” is not the most exciting subject for general people. When they hear ‘eco’ or ‘green’ they instantly think of a boring, preachy, tree-hugging event. This is the main reason KLEFF was organised to be different. We want to provide an interesting and vibrant environment so visitors are more receptive towards our idea.

KLEFF:  What do you hope to see different in this year's Festival?

FABS: I hope to see KLEFF as a platform of innovation, to have more people with more ideas and experience to attend and exchange knowledge. We need to find better approach and solution towards the current environmental issues through collaborations. Other than that I hope that it will continue to be THE environmental festival in Malaysia.

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