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A Malaysian documentary on the issue of statelessness among Filipino migrants in Sabah, Malaysia
138 backers pledged $10,463 to help bring this project to life.
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Stateless (Adj.): A person not recognized as a citizen of any country.

UPDATE: Film Clip (Experts' Opinion)

UPDATE: Film Clip (Stateless Children)

UPDATE: FILM STILLS

Han, Telurina, and their two youngest heading back to their boathouse for the night, during the height of the Lahad Datu incursion whilst the skies are patrolled by a military helicopter.
Han, Telurina, and their two youngest heading back to their boathouse for the night, during the height of the Lahad Datu incursion whilst the skies are patrolled by a military helicopter.
A Bajau-Laut boathouse docked at the Lahad Datu sea slum, very much like the one lived in by Han and his family.
A Bajau-Laut boathouse docked at the Lahad Datu sea slum, very much like the one lived in by Han and his family.
Ebelyn with three of her children and her grandchild in front of their home at the sea slum. Ebelyn's home though a mere 6 square feet houses 8.
Ebelyn with three of her children and her grandchild in front of their home at the sea slum. Ebelyn's home though a mere 6 square feet houses 8.
A major source of income for the stateless people, as they are unable to acquire jobs legally, is to collect cans and sell them for recycling.
A major source of income for the stateless people, as they are unable to acquire jobs legally, is to collect cans and sell them for recycling.
Many of the stateless children do not have access to education, a factor that plays a part in the ongoing nature of this problem.
Many of the stateless children do not have access to education, a factor that plays a part in the ongoing nature of this problem.
The sunrise seen from the Lahad Datu sea slum.
The sunrise seen from the Lahad Datu sea slum.

Story:

Di Ambang: Stateless in Sabah follows the lives of undocumented Filipino migrant families living in the Malaysian state of Sabah. Fleeing conflict in the southern Philippines, thousands have migrated across Malaysia’s porous sea borders. Following two families through their day-to-day lives, this documentary explores statelessness and the consequences it has on the generations of people living unrecognized by any country. After years of searching for peace and economic stability, they are vulnerable once again when insurgency hits Sabah.

Context/Background:

Sabah is situated on the north-eastern shore of Borneo. Due to its position near Indonesia and the Philippines, and it’s economic and political stability, Sabah has become a haven for unsanctioned migration. Currently, Sabah is home to an estimated 1.9 million undocumented and stateless migrants. For decades they have made a living through informal work in urban areas, such as Kota Kinabalu, Semporna, and Lahad Datu where Di Ambang was primarily filmed.

The presence of undocumented migrants in Sabah has put a strain on the relationship between Malaysia and the Philippines over the years, and the number of undocumented and stateless migrants continues to grow. But this issue has been ignored by both countries exacerbating the problem and awareness of the stateless plight remains virtually unknown outside the immediate region.

In February of 2013 the defunct Sulu Sultanate who has an historical pre-colonial claim to the Eastern portion of Sabah infiltrated the territory to assert his claim through armed warfare.

Why We are Making this Film:

This film is produced to create awareness of the plight of generations of stateless migrants living in Sabah. We aim to pressure those in power to address the humanitarian problems that have been swept under the carpet for far too long. By focusing specifically on the families involved, we aim to force government organizations to take interest in the problem of the statelessness and abject poverty that these people face.

Why We Need Your Help:

Thus far, we have funded the production of this in film Sabah through research grants, private donations and our own resources. All necessary footage has been shot over the past 2 years. The USD 10, 000 we still need will be for post-production and distribution costs and will go towards the cost of broadcast news coverage of the insurgency, sound editing, color correction, music licensing, and other editing costs.

Characters:

Ebelyn and her family
Ebelyn and her family

Ebelyn

Ebelyn Binti Salih is an undocumented Suluk-Bajau migrant. After her husband's deportation to the Philippines, Ebelyn and her five children took shelter in a Bajau Slum to await his return. Without any forms of identification, the family takes on informal jobs whenever they can. With an ongoing Suluk-Bajau feud among Filipino migrants in Sabah, being a family of mixed heritage has put a strain on relationships in either community.

Han and his family
Han and his family

Han

Abdul Han is an undocumented sea nomad of Bajau descent. Beached in Lahad Datu without funds for repairs, Han lives in his boat with his wife Telurina and four of their five children. Without official documentation, Han and Telurina are unable to seek formal employment and must rely on donations to survive. They now face an uncertain future as nationality and citizenship are required to take advantage of any means of improving their lives.

Crew:

Vilashini Somiah (Director) is a native of Sabah and was inspired to make this documentary from watching stateless children roam the streets of Kota Kinabalu as a child. Prior to this project she has worked as a journalist and has reported for The STAR (Malaysia) and the United Nations. Vilashini also studied and taught Media Studies at the University of Malaya.

Matt Fillmore (Director, Cinematographer, Editor) has been an independent documentary filmmaker for the past eight years. After co-founding a campus television news program in 2005, he shifted his focus to social justice documentaries where he has since directed / produced seven films. Currently, Matt is an MFA candidate in the Ohio University School of Film.

Azliana Aziz (Producer) has worked in academia and journalism. Having published and presented articles in academic journals and conferences discussing the sociopolitical makeup of Malaysia, she has since turned to film as a more impactful medium in visualizing the underlying issues Malaysia faces. Currently she is a graduate student in Ohio University's Center for International Studies majoring in Southeast Asian Studies.

For more information, visit our website at diambangfilm.com

Risks and challenges

There are risks when embarking on the production of a documentary film. However, this film is in the editing stage and the risks leading up to its success is significantly lessened. We are confident that with your help, we will be able to complete Di Ambang: Stateless in Sabah by May 2014.

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Funding period

- (35 days)