Handcrafted Films


Travelling across Indonesia’s vast archipelago at the beginning of 2007 filming extensively throughout Java, Borneo, Sulawesi, Sumatra and West Papua, we gained unique access to ordinary forest dwelling people and examined close-up their personal battle at the front-line of deforestation. For many the issues surrounding climate change, deforestation and illegal logging can seem inordinately complex; the human side – the personal stories – can often be forgotten. But occasionally these global problems can affect one tiny area; and suddenly, in a microcosm, all the devastation and horror take on a very real human face. The communities and villages featured in this serialisation have all found themselves thrust into such a position.

The Knasaimos people were severely affected by the illegal logging trade. This trade destroyed the livelihoods and social structure of their villages. A recent government enforcement action has since clamped down on this illegal logging. The film highlights the success of the enforcement and examines how the local communities will benefit from an increased share and control of their ancestral forestland.

Affiliated NGO:
The Environmental Investigation Agency and Telapak have worked with the Knasaimos people since 2002. The two NGOs exposed the rampant illegal logging in the area that led to the government enforcement action in 2005. This work is part of their global campaign to promote ideas and distribute information to improve forest policy in Indonesia and throughout the world. They have since been initiated into the Knasaimos Tribe and continue to help them decide their future.

Dayak Meratus communities have created cooperatives that protect local resources and develop business institutions. The communities use non-timber forest products such as rubber to generate sustainable livelihoods. However, the encroachment of private businesses on the local forestland for large scale plantations, mining and forest concessions threaten their way of life and have forced them to respond.

Affiliated NGO:
Since 1998 Lembaga Pemberdayaan Masyarakat Adat (LPMA) have helped strengthen the Meratus Dayak by maintaining their indigenous forests. This work assists the Dayak in managing their natural resources, restructuring indigenous institutions and community law. The Dayak have become financially self-sufficient and with LPMA they are now seeking legal recognition of their traditional land rights.

Local people develop a sustainable community based logging cooperative. The land was purchased by the community and is farmed for teak. The cooperative is the first in Indonesia to achieve Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification for sustainability. This has helped to regulate timber production and secure fair prices. However, this logging program is under continued threat by Indonesia’s endemic corruption.

Affiliated NGO:
The South Sulawesi Forest Network Institution (JAUH) formed a partnership with the community logging cooperative Koperasi Hutan Jaya Lestari (KHJL). Together they have improved forest management in the region and achieved FSC certification for the timber KHJL produce. JAUH continue to work defending the cooperative in the face of renewed pressure from the illegal timber industry.

Members of Indonesian civil society travel to Brussels to urge European countries to create better laws for combating illegal timber entering the European Union (EU). A West Papuan tribal leader accompanies the delegation and presents a speech on behalf of his community, who have suffered directly from the impact of illegal logging. These meetings and the continued work of Indonesian civil society has meant that they have now been officially recognised as an integral part of the negotiations between the EU and the Indonesia government on illegal logging.

Affiliated NGO:
Since 1999 the Environmental Investigation Agency and Telapak have been providing training to a network of grass roots non-government organisations in Indonesia. This project has significantly enhanced the ability of local organisations and communities to ensure their voices are heard globally using video, photography and evidence gathering techniques. Their work has also involved taking these NGOs to lobby consumer countries importing illegal Indonesian timber.

The film is based in Bukit Lawang where devastating floods caused over 239 deaths in 2003. The flooding was attributed to illegal logging in the surrounding Gunung Leuser National Park. Since the floods this community has been involved in voluntary forest governance and enforcement schemes in an attempt to curb the ongoing problems of illegal logging in the National Park. Also through the assistance of a local NGO, YLL, the community has started to recognise the important role of ecotourism in the preservation of their surrounding forests.

Affiliated NGO:
Medan based NGO, Yayasan Leuser Lestari (YLL), has worked to raise the profile of ecotourism in Bukit Lawang. Their work has also involved the tracking of court cases into the cause of the flooding. They regularly conduct investigations into illegal logging in order to campaign against forest destruction and land conversion.

These films have had success at a number of film festivals. The films were launched at a press conference on the 29th November 2007 with the UK Governments Department for International Development attended by MP Gareth Thomas, national and international press and representatives of the Indonesian Government. “The Department for International Development is proud to have funded these films and I congratulate the filmmakers on winning two International Wildlife Film Awards. Films such as these raise public awareness and are a part of a global campaign to end the exploitation of poor people and their environments.”
Gareth Thomas, UK Minister for International Development

All five films were broadcast daily on SCTV, Indonesia’s number one TV station, to over 13 million Indonesians on the Liputan 6 morning news during the UN Bali Conference on Climate Change 2008.

An evening was held at the Royal Geographical Society where the films were screened and a photo exhibition was held. The event was in conjunction with the Environmental Investigation Agency and with Gavin Searle, director of the BAFTA winning ‘Tribe’ series. It was attended by representatives of government, media, EIA members and the general public. The films and pictures were featured on the front page of the DFID ‘Developments’ magazine.

All 5 films have been screened during a number of meetings at Chatham House a world leading Institute for debate and analysis of international issues. The films have been screened at various international conferences and meetings and frequently appear on websites including Forest Stewardship Council, Babelgum, GreenTV and BBC Filmnetwork.