To Change Together with Documentary

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On Wednesday, December 3rd, 2019 a Public Lecture panel entitled “Getting the Story Right, Telling the Story Well” was held in Audio Visual Room, Faculty of Recorded Media Arts, ISI Yogyakarta. This public lecture elaborates an ethnographic documentary The Tree Remembers (2019), featuring the filmmaker itself, Kek Huat Lau as the speaker.

This panel begins with a screening of The Tree Remembers (2019), which is a film narrating the victims of racial policy in Malaysia. The issues were picked for mainly two reasons: to remind people of the past trauma and to warn them so that the history shall not be repeated.

After the screening, the audience listened to a speech by Kek Huat Lau about the making of the documentary. He began the documentary with a question, he said. Throughout the making, he had had an image in mind of how his film would end. The reason he made this film is to provide a space for people to be seated together and discuss about the issues afterwards.

In The Tree Remembers (2019), some voice was masked to hide the identity of the informant. Lau also noted that, filmmakers should be wise in delivering the information they get from their respondents; they should be able to put themselves in their respondents’ shoes. Filmmakers ought to give their informants ‘a room for regret’ before inserting their statements or opinions in the film, until they were 100% sure of said statements.

“If a documentary changes people, it is the filmmaker themself who changes first, before anyone else”, he concluded.

Written by Dinda Agita Dewi

Translated by M. Hafidh Al Mukmin