By S. Harrish
SARAWAKIAN musician Alena Murang has won the Best Styling award at the Buenos Aires Music Video Festival in Argentina for her 2019 Midang Midang music video.
The music video, shot in Bario Highlands and Tusan beach in Miri, showcased the traditional Kelabit song, infusing it with Kelabit elements and Sarawak fashion.
She shares the award with Midang Midang’s director Sarah Lois Dorai and hair and makeup artist Gebriel Padan.
“We are very honoured and very proud to showcase Sarawak identity and stories through fashion and film. We’re so thankful to everyone involved in the styling,” said Alena.
The 31-year-old sape (traditional lute) player, who has Kelabit and Italian-English parentage, said her outfits and accessories featured in the music video were all from Sarawakian designers and traditional craft workers.
Midang Midang was also in the running for the Best International Video – alongside Madonna – but the award went to Spanish singer Maria José Llergo’s A través de ti.
“To be recognised for our cultural heritage on an international stage is encouraging for us, to see that although our native community is so small we were able to create something that people could relate to or that people around the world wanted to watch,” says Alena, according to The Star.
“We want our stories to go far. It encourages us to create more and to be brave with our ideas,” she adds.
Midang Midang is an old Kelabit song which Alena learnt from her grand aunt (Tepu’ Ira). It is about a young girl watching leaves dry in the sun.
Being the first professional female sape musician, Alena said working on the music video was a journey of love, faith and passion.
“There was so much that was out of our control because we were shooting in Bario, starting with we didn’t even know if we could get all our gear and costumes into the Twin Otter plane.
“Everything came together so beautifully and it was so surreal doing this kind of work in our homeland, in the humble villages of our ancestors, in the heart of the rainforests,” she told the Borneo Post.
The music video was produced by KL-based film creative hub Project Room and Alena’s Kanid Studio.
Launched on Nov 27 last year with the support of Sarawak Tourism Board and Miri City Council, the music video has been screened at music festivals in New Zealand, United States, United Kingdom and Malaysia.