Malayan tiger documentary selected for AVIFF Cannes Art Film Festival

The Malayan Tiger: It’s Now or Never!’ highlights the challenges of protecting the endangered species that are on the verge of extinction. — Picture courtesy of Taylor’s University
The Malayan Tiger: It’s Now or Never!’ highlights the challenges of protecting the endangered species that are on the verge of extinction. — Picture courtesy of Taylor’s University

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PETALING JAYA, Nov 13 — A documentary on the plight of the Malayan tiger has been selected to compete at next year’s AVIFF Cannes Art Film Festival.

The half-hour documentary film The Malayan Tiger: It’s Now or Never! is written by Taylor’s University film studies associate professor Joe Qiao Li and directed by Malaysian filmmaker Raja Mohamad Amin Raja Azhar of Datu Entertainment.

The AVIFF exhibition which takes place during the Cannes Film Festival is regarded as a platform to promote contemporary art by artists from emerging art markets.

The festival was scheduled to take place in May but has been postponed to 2021 due to Covid-19.

Commissioned by the Energy and Natural Resources ministry, the film follows a team of Malaysian forest rangers into the Taman Negara forest in search of the critically endangered Malayan tiger.

The film sheds light on the challenges of protecting the native tiger subspecies that are on the verge of extinction as they encounter illegal poachers and the rescue efforts required to keep them alive.

The documentary was written by Taylor’s University film studies associate professor Joe Qiao Li. — Picture courtesy of Taylor’s University
The documentary was written by Taylor’s University film studies associate professor Joe Qiao Li. — Picture courtesy of Taylor’s University
The documentary also addresses the need to protect these tigers and the urgency to develop conservation efforts for Malaysia’s flora and fauna to ensure sustainability and better quality of life for these animals in their natural habitat.

Energy and Natural Resources ministry secretary-general Datuk Zurinah Pawanteh commended the documentary for making it to 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,” she said.

Zurinah added that 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,” she said.

The half-hour documentary will be heading to Cannes next year. — Screengrab courtesy of Taylor’s University
The half-hour documentary will be heading to Cannes next year. — Screengrab courtesy of Taylor’s University
The film was selected by the Malaysian government for World Tiger Day last year.

Known for his award-winning film A Tale of an Old Town, Li who teaches at the Taylor’s School of Media and Communications has also been appointed as jury member of the festival next year where he will be responsible for the official selection of films by international higher learning institutions.

“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 Li.

He noted the significance of this milestone for Taylor’s University and its students, saying it was important for universities with film studies courses to have staff members who are involved in the film industry.

“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 been invited to be amongst the jury members.

“Being a part of a movement that celebrates 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,” Li said.

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