Alumna’s Debut Film Yields Award Nom

The documentary short They Keep Quiet So We Make Noise was accepted to the Melbourne Short Film Festival and nominated for the Best Short Documentary Film Award. The work is the directorial debut of SMEA alum Marlena Skrobe ’20, a filmmaker and plastic pollution researcher. The film allowed Marlena to merge her research tools with her storytelling skills and her commitment to identify, expose, and help solve global environmental injustice perpetuated in global plastic recycling. Serving as executive producer of the film, Dr. Yoshitaka Ota, is also SMEA Research Assistant Professor and the Director of the Nippon Foundation Ocean Nexus Center.

A poster for the film They Keep Quiet So We Make Noise. The imagery showcases a fence crossed by yellow caution tape.
Photo provided.
A collaborative effort between SMEA alum and SMEA faculty yields an impressive documentary short.


In a small Malaysian town outside of Kuala Lumpur, residents woke each night to the overwhelming smell of burning plastic. A few local residents took it upon themselves to form the Environmental Protection Agency of Kuala Langat and uncover the source of the terrible air quality. The group’s work uncovered illicit facilities that were burning and dumping plastic waste as supposed plastic recycling facilities. A press release shares, “In the documentary short They Keep Quiet So We Make Noise, we follow two activists in the Environmental Protection Agency of Kuala Langat, Pua Lay Peng and CK Lee, during a night drive searching for illegal recycling facilities while learning about their fight against the tide of plastic waste being sent to Malaysia from overseas.”

Photo provided.
Marlena Skrobe ’20


Having spent time before enrolling in SMEA behind the camera, Skrobe developed compelling filmmaking skills, and had the opportunity to put them to work as the director for this courageous film.