06 Nov OKJ Discoveries’ participation in SGEFF and their thoughts
By Ong Kah Jing
Edited by Erica Lim
To me, a documentary is an intimate invitation to a different perspective. As a regular member of the audience, I am always fascinated by what documentary filmmakers reveal to me. The directors, hosts and actors involved often take me on a tour of our world – something that seems familiar yet awesomely new at the same time. I relish this window to our world from the comfort of my home, and the trust I lent to these creators was always handsomely rewarded.
As a director of The Conservation Conversation, I held that responsibility with the same respect. To produce a documentary on nature conservation was challenging, to say the least. I wanted to find a style that stood out from the usual gloomy, although accurate, narrative that invoked the urgency of nature conservation and the implications of failing the most important challenge of our times. Such an opportunity arose when I led a team of NUS students across Indonesia in a nature conservation exposure expedition. We all had different viewpoints regarding nature conservation, but we all hoped that our exposure would sharpen our critical thinking process when it came to this complex subject matter. This tension and diversity became the core of our documentary – to see nature conservation through the perspectives of the next generation, who will ultimately become responsible for tackling these issues.
I found it a pity that only a chosen few could embark on such an expedition; it was an opportunity to expose oneself to the beauty of the world, and appreciate the challenges it faces from a multi-faceted approach. As such, we hope that The Conservation Conversation will be the next best thing, apart from actually being there. The documentary isn’t meant to be a substitute for the experience, of course, but we hope that the documentary would inspire the audience to seek adventures of their own.
Our submission to the Singapore Eco Film Festival was a coincidence. We had not anticipated that there would be such an appropriate film festival in Singapore making its debut at the same time of our documentary’s completion, but I guess the adage “everything happens for a reason” rings true. The acceptance of our documentary by the SGEFF committee was a validating accomplishment – this is OKJ Discoveries’ first foray into the medium. To be amongst other passionate storytellers and seasoned professionals is truly an honour.
SGEFF plays an important role in stirring the conversations of conservation amongst Singaporeans. Unlike citizens in other countries, many Singaporeans do not connect the lacklustre efforts of nature conservation with the immediate and detrimental impact on a personal level, even though there have been many environmental campaigns in Singapore. Hopefully, with SGEFF, the films showcased will serve as windows to the world – shining a light on unenlightened eyes to be inspired, intrigued, and hopefully turn conversation into action.