Short film screenings to teach campus about Malaysian culture

Sam Houston State University students will have the opportunity to have their horizons broadened and their eyes opened to different cultures tomorrow with 15Malaysia, an event organized by the College of Fine Art and Mass Communications in partnership with Piney Woods Fine Arts Association.

15Malaysia will feature short films by fifteen different Malaysian filmmakers, produced by Malaysia-based musician, actor and filmmaker Pete Teo. In addition to the screening, the audience will get to hear Teo speak and will have an opportunity to ask him their questions.

Tom Garrett, associate professor of mass communication and Film Program coordinator, has been heading up all of the organization for this event and said Teo’s presence will be beneficial to students.

Teo has worked in the media for a long time and has an accomplished professional life. The event will be of interest to students, especially those who are hoping to do similar things in the media industry once they finish their degrees, according to Garrett.

“Teo has a vast background association with the independent arts movements and is one of the most influential personalities in Malaysian arts and new media today,” Garrett said. “His work has been featured in international media and film festivals around the world, including Venice, Cannes, Tokyo, Rotterdam and Marrakech.”

The short films deal with sociopolitical issues, such as corruption, freedom, race and religion-all of which would be issues of media censorship in Malaysian culture.

Garrett said students can expect an entertaining event.

He believes it is important for students to be exposed to these types of films, saying it is good to learn about other cultures and point of views.

“We live in a global society now,” Garrett said. “I see these films no different than any other films that are driven by passion, inspiration and a story to tell and could be coming out of anywhere… It is important to see and hear other artists and hear what inspires them. I always find hearing speakers inspires me. When we hear ‘where they were, how and why they do what they do and what they are doing now,’ we sometimes hear a little of our own story there, even if we are worlds apart.”

Garrett said Teo’s colorful personality will excite and interest students as well as his genre of work and the innovative things that he does.

“He is a cool dude … a popular actor, musician and all around artist,” Garrett said. “He is youthful and enthusiastic and loves inspiring young people. His multimedia work is characterized by an off beat ability to bridge the divide between popular and critical international appeal.”

Garret hopes students will walk away from this event feeling inspired and motivated to go out and make something about which they are passionate.

“The tools and the distribution of content has been democratized and is in everybody’s hands today,” Garrett said. “Be inspired no matter where you are, like the Nike ad, ‘Just do it’… Just create.”

In addition to the evening screening, the Film Society is hosting an event Friday at SHSU-The Woodlands Center. The Youth Film Conference Day is an annual conference designed for high school students in the greater Houston area.

The conference is booked full with over 120 students attending. The Film Society has an entire day planned for these guests, including many guest speakers all in the film industry, including Teo.

15Malaysia will show tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. in the James and Nancy Gaertner Performing Arts Center Recital Hall. Admission is free. Following the screening of the films, there will be a Q&A with Teo.

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