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Doctors Without Borders hosts a screening of “Selfish” in Malaysia

In its first film screening in Malaysia, the organization delivers a message of hope with a documentary about humanitarian workers across the world.

What does it take to be a humanitarian worker? What does it mean to travel the world, not just to see it, but to help the people who live in it? And often, in the most difficult situations imaginable. These are the questions that Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières’ documentary titled ‘Egoïste’ = ‘Selfish’ seeks to answer. And for the most part, it does so admirably. 

The film was described as ‘enriching’, ‘enlightening,’ and ‘thought-provoking’ by the audience at the Golden Screen Cinemas in Kuala Lumpur, where it was shown on August 19 and 20 this year.

At the film screening of “Selfish,” Malaysians catch a glimpse of the sorrows and pains that Doctors Without Borders field workers endure while pursuing their passion for humanitarian causes. Credit: Doctors Without Borders.

Shot in eight different countries, including South Sudan and Tanzania, ‘Selfish’ is an original and intimate documentary that provides a fascinating insight into the world of humanitarians. It tells the complexity of the choices to go on a humanitarian mission through personal experiences.

One of the four makers of the documentary, Laurence Hoenig, said that the idea to make the documentary came from trying to understand humanitarians’ commitment to their work. “Why do I leave? Why do I take this risk? These questions are rarely shared and expressed so we wanted to address them throughout the documentary.”

In “Selfish”, Doctors Without Borders field workers and their families talk about the difficulties of humanitarian life. Credit: Doctors Without Borders.
Photo: MSF

“Documentaries on humanitarian world often focus on specific context, crisis or regions, but very rarely on humanitarian workers themselves. It is also reportages and not documentaries that tell the reality of the population hit by crises. It was important to give a voice to humanitarian workers, but also their loved ones, to better understand their commitment and the mechanisms that push people to go on a mission,” she said.

Hoenig also shared that they hoped viewers watching the documentary will get rid of this idea of “humanitarian heroes” and better understand the power of commitment.

The first screening of the film took place on August 19th with subsequent screenings on August 20th. The film screening was followed by a sharing session with Doctors Without Borders’ field workers. Among the field workers who shared their experience working in Doctor Without Borders projects were Malaysian trauma surgeon Dr. Ashok Kannan and anaesthetist Dr. Mafietz Mamat. The film screening was attended by some 400 people.

Doctors Without Borders Director for South East, East Asia & Pacific Paul McPhun said they were happy with the response of the audiences at the screening.

“What we observed was that the audiences were eager to learn more about field workers experiences and Doctors Without Borders. There’s a keen interest in understanding humanitarian work and many were also interested in learning how they can contribute,” he said, following the screening. 

And at a time when we could all use some hope, this film delivers.