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Although she did not win the Snow Leopard Scholarship at the 6th Asian World Film Festival organised by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), it was victory in itself that young Malaysian filmmaker Putri Purnama Sugua was shortlisted for the said award for her short film, “Rumah Nda Bertanah” (The House without a Ground).

The Sandakan-born filmmaker recently competed alongside 11 other films from various countries with her said film about stateless children, two years since she started making the movie.

Speaking to the media recently, Putri admitted that she herself faced several challenges while filming the said short film, having been involved in a car accident and having to go for leg surgery – consequently having to cut the filming period from five days to just three.

Then there was also the rain, the Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) alumna said, explaining, “Whenever we started filming it would also rain non-stop but when we completed our shoot the rain would subside.”

The 18-minute short film revolves around Toteng – an 11 year old stateless child who works with his mother at a garbage disposal centre in Sabah, whose life changes after he discovers a love for knowledge upon finding an old book. 

The movie itself, said Putri, was inspired by a true story.

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Putri is a graduate of Universiti Teknologi Mara’s (UiTM) Faculty of Film, Theatre and Animation (FiTA)
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The movie tells the story about stateless children

This is not the first time that Putri has made movies revolving around stateless children, whose hardships had inspired her for a long time. She previously won second place for Best Documentary Film at the 49th Roshd International Film Festival back in 2019 through “Aku Mau Skola”, another work about these children.

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Putri previously won for “Aku Mau Skola”

“If given the opportunity, they could contribute so much to the country,” she pointed out about the stateless children. “They certainly have dreams of going to school. But seeing them forced to work in garbage disposal centres at age 7 to 8 to earn RM3 to RM5 to put food on the table for their families just breaks my heart,” she said, adding that she wanted to raise awareness of their plight.

In the recently held Asian World Film Festival, the HFPA Snow Leopard Scholarship Programme was awarded to Farhad Delaram from Iran for his short film, “Tattoo”, with the second and third winners being China’s “Monster Never Know” and Iran’s “Exam” respectively.

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Farhad Delaram’s “Tattoo” won the HFPA Snow Leopard Scholarship Programme