Nadira Ilana

Filmmaker, Telan Bulan Films


A rising young Malaysian filmmaker, Nadira Ilana and her Telan Bulan Films company give voice and representation to people rarely seen and heard

Johnnie Walker Blue Label

Nadira Ilana is a young, award-winning Malaysian filmmaker who is leading the charge in giving authentic representation to East Malaysians in film and to the country’s film industry.

Hailing from Sabah in East Malaysia, Ilana—who is of mixed indigenous Dusun heritage—first caught people’s attention when her documentary The Silent Riot, based on the 1986 Sabah riots, clinched the Best Human Rights Award at the Freedom Film Fest 2013. Obtaining a BFA in film and TV, Nadira was inspired to focus on East Malaysia when she found the country’s film industry was too Peninsular-centric. She divides her time between Kuala Lumpur where she worked as an assistant director on numerous commercials and feature films, and Sabah where she filmed her own work.

Passionate about giving a voice to those who are not often seen and heard, Ilana did a year-long film residency in Kampung Bongkud Ranau in Sabah in an Australian-Malaysian co-production, giving the community the opportunity to tell their own stories through photos and videos. This was also the genesis of her own production company Telan Bulan Films, which has gone on to produce both commercial content and a multiple award-winning Kadazan-language short film. Her most recent short film Were the Sun and the Moon to Meet is another award-winner, bagging the Best Short Film (Open Category) at Mini Film Festival 2021.

Nadira is also known for programming independent film screenings, something she began as a way to create more awareness for East Malaysian film and voices, and highlight Malaysian short films. Her first film Wilderness is in the works.


Impacted Industries



Best Short Film (Open Category) Award (17th Mini Film Festival)


Best Short Film and Best Story (Malaysian Digital Film Awards)


Best Short Film (Malaysian International Film Festival)


Best Human Rights Awards (Freedom Film Fest)

Did You Know?

Nadira’s short 2018 documentary Anak Pokok (Saplings), which she produced in collaboration with Tropical Rainforest Conservation and Research Centre, won first runner-up at SXSW Community Screening for Rainforest Partnership’s Films for the Forest, which was judged by American filmmaker Richard Linklater.

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