WP 1 – The Environment
Title: Flow of Sand
Producer and Director: Monika Arnez
The documentary film “Flow of Sand” is set, both against the backdrop of increasing Chinese investment in real estate in Malaysia in recent years and, also, the political transition following the May 2018 legislative elections. Futuristic, large-scale land reclamation projects are some of the visible expressions of these investments. Two case studies are explored in the film: ‘Forest City’ in Johor and ‘Melaka Gateway’ in Malacca, both of which have been launched in attractive places by the sea in these two Malaysian states. Moreover, both projects are part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and they are built on artificial islands reclaimed from the sea. Yet having been initially hailed for boosting the economy and creating jobs these projects have also subsequently attracted criticism for exacerbating social injustices and for impacting negatively on the environment.
“Flow of Sand” thus seeks to reveal the contested nature of these projects showing both these projects’ ambitions and their contradictions. While they aspire to create a pleasant, prosperous and eco-friendly environment in strategic locations, yet this is at the cost of social alienation, and negative impacts on the ecosystem. By including the perspective of affected community members, particularly in Malacca, this film raises questions about the projects’ deleterious effects such as exacerbating social inequality and the destruction of the environment. In the film images of silt, artificial beaches and dunes are used as visual signifiers, connecting the different ‘flows’ of sand with these social and environmental issues.