The first series, The Dam, has been completed. The last episode, You Can’t Eat The Road, went online late April. It turned out to be the most complex to cut. I had a lot of material to work with, but given this episode consists entirely of testimonials and interviews it became quite an effort to massage hours of material into ten minutes.
With production advisor, David Nerlich’s assistance, I divided the micro-doc into four scenes taking quotes from key statements, “What the Government Said Wasn’t True”, “At The Beginning We Were Told The Electricity Is Free”, The Extinguishment of Customary Rights”, and “In Our Struggle We Need To Be United”.
Gradually a narrative emerged and even though this episode would make more sense to Bhasa Malay speaking people, I’ve had very good response from English speaking viewers prior to it being completed. That said, one of the key points I had not stressed in this series is the fact that the Bengoh Dam is not an isolated case. Even though this final episode takes us to the Bakun Dam Resettlement Scheme, a proposed corridor of no less than 12 addition dams to meet alleged power needs. This will, no doubt, have significant impacts on the remaining Dayaks who live in Sarawak’s forests.
Bidayuh travel to the Bakun Dam resettlement scheme and hear from the resettled Kenyah at Sungai Asap and see first hand the results of relocation. They also meet with Iban at Rumah Agi who fought to retain customary right to their own land in the face of palm oil exploitation.
Last night I completed the first readable draft of Episode three, We can’t eat the road. This is the last in the first series, The Bidayuh and the Dam. It’s based on discussion between a small representative group of villagers from Upper Bengoh meeting with the Iban of Rumah Agi and the Kenyah at the Bakun Resettlement Scheme.
From palm oil to dams, the story is one of exploitation, false promises and despair. It demonstrates clearly how little the present government of Sarawak cares for native customary rights and even less for the welfare of the people they are duty bound to serve and protect.
I’ve done a lot more work on the site which you will see in the general layout, the synopsis pages and very soon, a section outlining the issues and an explanation of native customary rights, or NCR.
In The Forest and the Dam we review the Environment Impact Assessment prepared prior to construction of the Bengoh Dam. We look at the anticipated loss of habitat and bio-mass, and the inundation of protected and endangered species found in Upper Bengoh, Sarawak.
Work on the series began in 2008. Shooting was completed in mid-2009 and post production commenced September of that year as part of an artists in residence program I had been invited to undertake back in Australia.
At the time of writing all post-production has taken place with out a single penny, or dollar for those slighter younger than I. In-kind support has been provided by Wind & Sky Productions for their work in producing maps, titling and colour grading. I have also received considerable input from film-maker, writer and composer David Nerlich who has provided me with critical feedback to all my post-production scripts and each and every review edit.
More recently, a small number of highly skilled and supportive individuals have reviewed this site and my micro-docs offering essential feed-back and suggestions that will improve the project as it rolls out.
Sarawak Gone is the first Toy Satellite based project since 2005 – a much simpler and reflective Toy Satellite than the multi-faceted and fast paced outfit of former times.
Imagine forests that educate your children, feed your community and for generations define and inspire your culture.
Sarawak, along with Sabah, is a state of Malaysia on the island of Borneo. It is home to over 40 different sub-ethnic groups.
Many native communities, such as the Iban, Penan, Bidayuh, Kayan, Kenyah and Saban are still dependent on the remaining forests that they live in. However, they are under increasing pressure to leave or surrender their customary lands to forestry industries, palm oil plantations or dams.
Like the forests they inhabit and have been custodians to for generations, Sarawak’s native groups may also perish, along with their traditions, countless generations of cultural knowledge, their dignity and their rights.
Those that have already lost access to their customary lands and rights are finding uncertainty and cultural poverty the legacy their children will inherit.
Sarawak Gone is a micro-docs series raising awareness to the gradual decimation of the indigenous life and culture of Sarawak, the native land rights at stake and the rapidly decreasing habitats that are also home to countless protected and endangered flora and fauna.