Well, at last, What Rainforest -The Film was premiered at the Freedom Film Fest on Sept 6.
A 20-min version of the film was first launched in July in conjunction with What Rainforest – The Campaign targeting the 11th Rainforest World Music Festival in Santubong, Sarawak.
Being a rainy afternoon, the crowd trickled in slowly. At the start of the screening, I counted no more than 50 people in the screening room at the top floor of the Central Market Annexe – the hub for indie and progressive activities in the Klang Valley.
When the lights came on as the credits rolled, to our delight, the room was fully occupied! It might be the balmy, cozy atmosphere in the room, or maybe it’s the typical Malaysian way, the Q & A session got off to a slooow start only to see more hands going up as discussion became livelier towards the end.
The session was shared between two other films and WR. The one on the wonders of non-timber forest products (such as honey, wood resin etc) in India got some in the audience going oohs and aahs.
Yes, non-timber forest products (NTFP) are indeed heart-warming creatures.
Don’t miss the forest for the trees! There are so much more that the forests are providing us and that alone is a good reason to protect them.
Another good reason, as highlighted in the film Voices of the Forest – India, is the dependence of local communities on these natural bounties. The forests are their supermarkets, banks and safety nets. There is no need for international conferences to discuss poverty eradication if only governments around the world ensure that the forests are protected.
The 2nd film was on the Knaisaimos tribe in Papua, Indonesia. The film began with the erosion of traditional culture and hardships endured by the tribe with the advent of logging and ended on a positive note as the community found strength in their cultural values to forge a sustainable future.
Then came our film which challenged the official rhetoric of 60% forest cover. Malaysia in general but Sarawak in particular is fast turning into ‘Sawit Republic’. At the heart of this phenomenon is the violation of Native Customary Rights which in my opinion is akin to daylight robbery sanctioned by the state.
Segan and Lumat – the Iban couple from Kg Lebor featured in the film – were duely introduced to the audience. Segan was even given a sort of standing ovation when he was called to the stage. He related his experience of standing up against the bulldozer and his community intimate relationship with the land.
Throughout the 3-day festival, the couple also sold their handicrafts and Lumat even managed to weave three bamboo baskets in between catching some films and chatting with visitors.
Many visitors signed the petition (www.PetitionOnline.com/WRPFSIP1) calling on the government to respect the fundamental rights of the Sarawak natives. For their support to our fellow Malaysians and to make this country a better place, we reward them with the unique WR sticker and windscreen sticker.
We’re having our eyes peeled looking out for these stickers on the road AND an increased traffic to this website.
Next, Johor Baru here we come!
‘til then … adios!
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