MALAYSIA’S MALAYAN TIGER DOCUMENTARY MAKES ITS WAY TO AVIFF CANNES ART FILM FESTIVAL 2021

  • Associate Professor in Film studies from Taylor’s School of Media and Communications, Dr Joe Qiao Li, will be presenting the documentary film “The Malayan Tiger: It’s Now or Never!”
  • Dr Li has also been invited to be a part of the jury member for Wonderful World Competition Category at Cannes AVIFF Art Film Festival

Like many social events in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has postponed the annual AVIFF Cannes Art Film Festival, first scheduled to take on its’ 2020 edition back in May. However, this has not dampened the spirit of Taylor’s University’s Associate Professor in film studies, Dr Joe Qiao Li, who has been officially invited to present the documentary film “The Malayan Tiger: It’s Now or Never!”.

The half-hour documentary film written by Dr Li from the School of Media and Communications (SOMAC) and directed by local filmmaker Raja Mohamad Amin Bin Raja Azhar from Datu Entertainment has been officially selected for competition, which will tentatively see its official premiere in May 2021 in France. The AVIFF Cannes Art Film Festival exhibition has become one of the world’s favourite exhibitions during the Cannes Film Festivals season as a platform to promote contemporary art in the field of Artists' films associated with an emerging art market. 

The film, which was commissioned by the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources in Malaysia, follows a team of Malaysian forest rangers into the Taman Negara Forest looking for Malayan tigers – Malaysia’s native tiger subspecies which has been classified as critically endangered. The film aims to highlight the challenges that comes with protecting the majestic creatures on the verge of extinction as they encounter illegal immigrated tiger poachers and the rescue efforts that goes into keeping the species alive. 

Datuk Zurinah Pawanteh, the Secretary General for the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, applauds the effort and resources for the documentary to make it at an international platform. “The topic of saving Malayan tigers has been a decade-long conversation. While many efforts have been placed, there are more that we can do to make saving our national emblem a national priority. The support of various corporations in Malaysia towards tiger conservation efforts can play a major role in improving protection efforts. This honour to have a Malaysia-produced documentary highlighting important conversations such as this premiere at an influential platform is a defining and proud moment for us. Our efforts should not stop here. There’s more we can do and let’s continue to fight for our tigers.”

The film was selected by the government to screen in Putrajaya as part of World Tiger Day 2019. The documentary, produced by a fast-growing local entertainment company Datu Entertainment, also sees the endorsement of the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, that addresses the need to safeguard our tigers and the urgency to develop conservation efforts for Malaysia’s flora and fauna to ensure forest sustainability and better-quality living for these animals in their natural habitat.

Dr Li, who is an active digital filmmaker with award winning films such as A Tale of an Old Town, has double reasons to celebrate as he has also been appointed as a Jury Member for Cannes AVIFF Art Film Festival 2021. In his role as a jury for the Wonderful World Competition Category at Cannes AVIFF Arts Film Festival, Dr Li will be responsible for the official selection of films among numerous international higher learning institutions’ submission for various awards such as Best Fiction Film and Best Director. He will be judging the submissions along notable figures in the art film scenes such as Arnaud Brument, President of the jury and Art Gallerist in Paris; Margot Le Peltier, cultural event coordinator for Institut Français de Bilbao; Marc Mercier, artistic director of the "Les Instants Vidéo" festival based at the "Friche la Belle de Mai" in Marseille; and Professor Richard Conte, artist and scholar from the University of Paris 1 Pantheon.

“It is a proud moment for me, knowing that I am one of Malaysia’s first higher learning institutions lecturer to be invited as a contender and a jury member. Initially, I submitted the film for the festival, not realising that it would premiere in Cannes. The judging standards are high and winning means the craft and creativity exhibited is outstanding, so I look forward to hearing exciting news next year for the documentary film,” said Dr Li.

He also notes that the honour of being invited to the festival is one with great importance and benefits for SOMAC and its’ students. “Working in an industry that appreciates practical learning, it is important for higher learning institutions with film study courses to have a staff member who is very much involved in the film industry. The approach of practical learning and building networks early on will allow students to get a sense of connection and empower them to explore possibilities of a film career. I would anticipate that the experience and connections I gain at the Cannes AVIFF Art Film Festival will bring significant benefits to the future of Taylor’s University and its SOMAC students.”

This comes as Taylor’s University recently announced a collaboration between SOMAC and Beijing Film Academy Modern Creative Media College (BFAMCMC) that will pave the way for research collaboration and mobility for staff and students in Taylor’s filmmaking and digital media production courses.

“Cannes is the most important festival for films and arts enthusiasts all around the world. It is an exceptionally rare treat to be invited to present your work at this prestigious festival – what more having invited to be amongst the jury members. Being a part of a movement that celebrate brilliant and authentic talents in the film industry encourages me to strive to be the best in what I do and what I teach my students” said Dr Li.

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