Big Stories, Small Towns: Bongkud-Namaus, Sabah, Malaysia

Potter, Martin and Ilana, Nadira 2016 Big Stories, Small Towns: Bongkud-Namaus, Sabah, Malaysia, video recording Big Stories, Small Towns.

Title Big Stories, Small Towns: Bongkud-Namaus, Sabah, Malaysia
Creator(s) Potter, MartinORCID iD for Potter, Martin
Ilana, Nadira
Year presented 2016
Year created 2016
Series Big Stories, Small Towns
Event name Big Stories, Small Towns: Bongkud-Namaus, Sabah, Malaysia
Publisher Big Stories, Small Towns
Description of moving image documentary film series, website, photographs
Keyword(s) documentary
participatory media
community media
digital storytelling
Sabah, Malaysia
Summary Big Stories, Small Towns is a transmedia documentary project ( The project seeks to describe multi-layered communities and explore complex relations between people, social backgrounds, technology and place. The project is based around filmmakers living in residence in a small town and creating stories focussed on local people caring for and creating their community. Since 2008 residencies have been undertaken in 13 towns – mainly in Australia and the Asia Pacific. In 2014 and 2015 the Big Stories team led by Martin Potter and Sabahan filmmaker Nadira Ilana ran film and photography workshops in Kampung Bongkud (Bongkud Village). Bongkud and Namaus Villages are in the Raunau district in Sabah, Malaysia approximately 140 km from the state's capital city of Kota Kinabalu and 20km from Mount Kinabalu. Bongkud-Namaus is an ethnic Dusun community that is predominantly Christian with a Muslim minority. The primary language spoken is a Ranau dialect of Dusun. The two villages bonded in the 1970s when villagers from Namaus moved over to Bongkud Village in need of farmlands. The villagers of Bongkud and Namaus are mostly involved with agriculture - subsistence farming, palm oil and market gardens. Some locals work for Camp Bongkud, a subsidiary of Camps International, a UK-based voluntourism company. The Big Stories team assisted locals in producing films and images with a focus on their Dusun heritage, relationships and dreams. The world premiere for Big Stories in Bongkud-Namaus took place on the 12th of March 2016 in Bongkud Village and was an all day cultural celebration of Dusun culture, which saw over 1,000 people attend. The project released a Malaysia specific domain: - the first Big Stories Co. town to receive its own country specific domain. Between June 2016 and November 2016 there were over 30,000 visits to the Big Stories site. Through other media coverage over 400,000 people were made aware of the project including over 100,000 views of this video produced by r.age Malaysia: Through the Big Stories social media through festival and conference presentations (such as Freedom Film Festival, August 2016, Borneo Eco Film Festival, October 2016 and the Georgetown Literary Festival, November, 2016) resulted in additional visibility of the research. Selection of the stories in these competitive festivals is further evidence of research excellence.
Notes With the aim of exploring the means by which communities can collaboratively mediatise everyday life, in this case of Dusun and Sabahan culture, the research investigated the potential for participatory media as both process and product that could amplify marginalised cultures. An iteration of the acclaimed ‘Big Stories, Small Towns’ transmedia project, this work emerged from residencies in the Dusun Kampungs of Bongkud and Namaus, Sabah (East Malaysia), and saw a collaboration between the researcher and Dusun and Sabahan filmmaker Nadira Ilana, as well as a production team of Sabahan creatives. The stories produced play a key role in preserving intangible Dusun cultural heritage, and address the homogenisation of Malayan cultural identities resulting from the 1Malaysia policy. A unique model of participatory media was used in this cultural and geographic setting, resulting in video and photographic works that materially embody the production of these new forms of knowledge. Traditional stories of everyday life in this community were re-mediated through the process of participatory media, generating new and creative outcomes that include: methodologies and understandings of Dusun culture, language and history; and ways of effectively disseminating previously hidden Sabahan culture, language and history. Funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, FINAS-Malaysia and Screen Australia, the work was released online and between June and November 2016, attracted over 30,000 visits. Through wide media coverage, the project subsequently reached over 400,000 people, including over 100,000 views of a report on the project produced by r.age Malaysia. The work was also the subject of research-based screenings at international festivals, including Freedom Film Festival (Singapore, 2016), Borneo Eco Film Festival (2016) and the George Town Literary Festival (Malaysia, 2016).
Language und
Field of Research 190205 Interactive Media
200103 International and Development Communication
200212 Screen and Media Culture
Socio Economic Objective 950204 The Media
HERDC Research category J1 Major original creative work
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