As we descend towards the end of 2015, ASEAN is also quickly moving towards its vision of creating an ASEAN community. But how do we maintain our uniqueness in a world that is relatively getting more and more permeable by the day? Especially for South East Asia, a region home to a diverse amount of cultural identity. How do we become ‘One community’ with ‘One identity’ without jeopardizing our multitude of cultural heritages? I guess with such questions in the mind of the organizers, AYNK, had organized ASEAN short film festival, with the theme of “Unity in Diversity” on the 9th October 2015.
The series of short films addresses issues and reflects upon what “Unity in diversity” meant according to each unique perspectives. One of the short film that had managed to leave the most impression to me within less than 2 minutes, was the narrative video directed by Malaysian Director Kevin Ining, which reflected the beautiful description of unity by the writer through its exquisite cinematography. The narrator said, in Malay Language:
Orang Kata (People say)
“It was when I journeyed to the path of life, there I met thousand kinds of people, standing on the same ground as I, looking at the same glittering sky, even though we are different, our heart is on. We speak in the same language, the language of harmony. Different, but still had the same melody, like shattering puzzles, when it is put together, it becomes one entity. Because of the differences, we stand proud, singing in unity, dreaming of the same ambition, for a prosperous, peaceful and a just world.”
It ended with a person looking on to the vast skies decorated by white feathery grass, which to my perspective symbolizes an infinite space full of opportunities to achieve this dream of ours. A similar short narrative film was also done by the Philippines Team entitled “Ang Kwento Ni Juan,” directed by Julius Marvin Flores, in Tagalog, where the narrator had said: “Unity is not about the land where you grew or the air that you breathe. Because unity is within everybody and will not change” And I couldn’t agree more. From where I come from, we are flat lands with skies barely touched by buildings, where our Singaporean friends come from, well designed skyscrapers touch the sky; where our Vietnamese friends grew up is full of bustling markets and pretty green mountains; from where our Burmese friends grew up, the city is decorated with touches of gold ornaments and statues, and so on. It is true that where we grow up shapes the identity of who we become, but as the narrator said in their short film “The story of Juan”, “But it is not a reason for us not to be one”
We were also entertained by the short romantic comedy “A little thing called love” Directed by Shadaporn Leelakajornkit and Nalathaporn Chindaraksawong, revolving around the handsome president of ASEAN Culture Club (who actually came during the event and leaving girls awe-struck) and an infatuated girl. We were also introduced to the variety of languages and the vast land of Indonesia in the short film “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika” which means “Unity in Diversity” directed by Titus & Farras. All had depicted diversity in their own way. And in the end, in my opinion, despite the variety of storylines, none of these movies are better than the other, and each are spectacular in their own way, as each tells a story with their own unique take on the theme.
Indeed, with differences, there are bound to be conflicts. This was depicted beautifully in the short film “Misconception” directed by Harith Rais, where such kind of misinterpretation of a person’s activities or behavior is, more often than not, common. As we lead different lifestyles, our thoughts about certain actions may be different. For instance, hugging between males as a show of friendship may be customary in some country, but it may be seen in a negative perspective in another. I have read somewhere that first impression, regardless of whether or not it is right or wrong, takes only about 3-5 seconds, but it may take years to change. And so as a person living in a diverse ASEAN community, we should dismiss all skeptic thoughts about other people and accept that, there is no “I” in a community, but a “We”. As most countries in South East Asia are still in development phase of our economy, we are vulnerable and fragile to discords. But that depends on which perspective we choose to look at it from. If we choose to see strength in these differences, together as a community, we are invincible. As mentioned in the film by Cambodian Team, You are not alone directed by Vannarath Rith:
“On our own we are easily broken, together we are unbreakable”
The night was not only fun, it had opened opportunities for us from different walks of life to understand each other’s perspectives of Unity, and created an opportunity for us to interact with each other over a cup of popcorn and slices of Pizza. Big congratulations to those who had organized the wonderful event for the meaningful night we had. 수고했습니다.
By Nur Atiqah Raduan, ASEAN Correspondent from Brunei Darussalam Disclaimer: All stills of movie are taken by screenshots