On Wednesday, 25 September, 2013, “Cross Currents: A Journey into Asian Environments” had its Malaysian premier at the Sunway campus of Monash University. The documentary is an outcome of a 3-year long inaugural Regional Project of the Asian Public Intellectuals (API) Fellowships.  

The documentary looks at the creative  adaptations of five local communities residing at different ecological sites -- Lake Biwako (Japan), Khiriwong (Thailand), Kali Code (Indonesia), Batanes Island (Philippines) and Tasik Chini (Malaysia). 

The event was organised by Nasi Bungkus Cinema, based at the School of Arts and Social Sciences (SASS), Monash University in association with the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. IKMAS is the partner institution in Malaysia for the Nippon Foundation for Asian Public Intellectual Fellowships Programme. Four other university institutes in the region make up the rest of the network. 

Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Helen Bartlett welcomed the audience comprising staff, students and  members of the general public. She was pleased that Monash University was hosting the Malaysian premier of Cross Currents as the issues depicted in the film are both timely and important. 

Professor Rashila Ramli, the Director of IKMAS shared on the vision and goals of the Asian Public Intellectuals Programme. To date, she said that there are over 300 API fellows scattered throughout the region working to contribute to the growth of public spaces in which effective responses to regional needs could be generated. 

Dr Yeoh Seng Guan, a Senior Lecturer at SASS, the Associate Producer of the documentary and also an API Fellow himself provided a brief background to the Regional Project which gave birth to the film.. This was followed by its director, Nick Deocampo, sharing on some of the challenges and learning points of making Cross Currents. Mr Deocampo is also a film scholar and an API Fellow based in the Philippines. 

After the screening, an aquatic biologist based at the School of Science, Monash University, Dr Holly Barclay, gave her reactions to its contents. She said that she was impressed with seeing how the API fellows worked closely with the local communities while conducting their respective research.

Questions from the floor was then fielded by a panel comprising Nick Deocampo, Justine Vaz and Josie Fernandez. Both Ms Vaz and Ms Fernandez are independent Malaysian researchers with collective expertise in environmental and biodiversity conservation, indigenous peoples traditional knowledge and natural resource management. 

For updates on film screenings at Nasi Bungkus Cinema, go to: https://www.facebook.com/nasibungkuscinema?ref=ts&fref=ts

Top Picture: From left to right – Nick Deocampo, Josie Fernandez and Justin Vaz fielding questions from the floor.

Middle Picture: Professor Rashila Ramli (IKMAS, UKM) and Professor Helen Bartlett (Monash University) having a chat before the screening.

Bottom Picture: Dr Yeoh Seng Guan (left) with Nick Deocampo, associate producer and film director for Cross Currents.