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10 Must-See Movies about Forests at KLEFF2018

10 Must-See Movies about Forests at KLEFF2018

Anak Pokok

Film maker: Nadira Ilana
Country of Origin: Malaysia

Faris and Luqman are two cousins from the village of Kepala Batas, Penang with unusual professions. After completing secondary school they were selected for a special programme by the Tropical Rainforest Conservation and Research Centre (TRCRC) to train unemployed youths for a special task, which is to save Malaysia’s rarest and endangered trees from extinction. We follow these newly-minted ‘green warriors’ to their hometowns to trace back their roots, then onto a routine seed collection expedition in Gerik, Pahang, home to the oldest rainforest in the world. While on the move, the men talk about their humble beginnings, the challenges faced along the way and the lifelong friendships they have made. Anak Pokok/Saplings’ is a heartfelt short documentary looking into the inspiring lives of these kampung boys as they mature into becoming Malaysia’s future in environmental conservation.

The Jungle Man Loiya

Film maker: Farha Khatun
Country of Origin: India

The film tells the story of Loiya Ngamba, a nature lover who chanced upon an area in Punshilok in Langol hill range in Manipur and created a green space for the local communities. When Loiya came upon Punshilok it was straggly, rock-strewn patch of land with nothing growing on it except for some wild weeds. He started by clearing the area of weeds and was eventually able to de-silt the stream, making it a good source of drinking water for the people of the valley.  For six years Loiya stayed alone on the hill, building this forest, almost from scratch, but slowly it expanded and extended to many young people who joined him in this endeavour bringing in their own dreams and aspirations, and making this place a refuge for the tired souls. Amidst the backdrop of conflict ridden Manipur, surviving its everyday drudgery and turmoil of bullets and oppression, this little piece of land became a bubble where one could reflect on oneself, practice one’s art or just spend some time in peace. The film explores the rewarding journey of Loiya, of the forest and the people who have come to associate themselves with this place. The soundscape of the film too tells the story of this journey through the murmuring of leaves, chirping of birds, through music created in harmony with nature. At a time when trees are cut down rampantly in the name of ‘development’, when ‘civilization’, ‘urbanization’ has come to mean building blocks of concrete, when forests are being cleared and sold off to corporate houses to usher in ‘modernity’, this film asks pertinent questions as it tells the story of reorienting man’s relationship with nature and building a culture of peaceful coexistence.

Save Mother

Film maker: Mark Lee
Country of origin: Malaysia

A mother late 40s always taking care of  her husband perfect However, whatever the mother do will always make the family complaint and bored. No one is appreciating her efforts. One day, her husband throws a temper badly to her again in the forest. This time, mother was deeply hurt and exits in despair.

To Wake Buddhi

Film maker: Yakima Camille Waner
Country of origin: South Africa

Once upon a time in the forest of Kullu, there was a young girl named Janisha Marchal. This girl was happy whenever she played in the forest. The trees spoke to her; she was completely in tune with the ecosystem. However, the presence of fires began killing the trees and unchecked human greed ravaged the land. The trees communicate their message to Janisha as a warning for all of humankind: humans cannot keep burning the forests and cutting down the trees or else there will be irreparable consequences for people. This green paradise situated in the Himalayas is in grave danger due to the savage climate change caused by the neglect of men. This may be described like a fairy tale, but it is actually a documentary, and the fate of the Kullu forest is a very real concern.  The term “Buddhi” is a feminine verdict Sanskrit which is used to describe the force behind wisdom and awakening, thus giving the documentary’s title “TO WAKE”. Janisha, despite being five years of age, is wiser and far more in tune with nature than people may realize. Janisha and the women of the community she lives in have dedicated their lives to preserve the Kullu forest. They are environmentally aware on both a physical and spiritual level. Her people even go so far as to design an oven which burns fewer wood and emit less smoke emissions. Janisha wishes to impart and extend her wisdom to the people of her village, thus empowering them to save their ecosystem. However, Janisha has also seen the dark side of human ignorance: massive fires burning the magical forest she lives in, for no reason at all. The toll this takes on her reveals the almost symbiotic relationship between Janisha and the forest itself, as she is in tune with her surroundings on a deeply spiritual level. Janisha understands the forest, she feels its pain when burnt and decimated, and this is why she communicates her message and tries to spread the word before it is too late. Janisha represents the power of women as protectors of nature, women have always been more connected to the earth and Janisha is a clear example of a level of awareness that not many manage to achieve. Janisha is also highly empathetic with animals and other living beings, becoming a protector of life as a whole, for both flora and fauna and for all of humanity for it is all connected. Without the trees, there is no air, no water from the rains, no animals to keep the delicate equilibrium and finally there will be no more people on the face of the earth. Janisha was born with a nerve disorder known as “Erb’s Palsy” which has rendered her right arm immobile, this doesn’t stop her from becoming an ambassador, a teacher and a mentor for an entire generation of protectors and activists. Janisha is the heroine of an ongoing story; her battle as protector of the Kullu forest has just begun. Her name means “Go Darkness”, her destiny is to bring light to the world.

Iron Lady

Film maker: Mark Lee
Country of origin: Malaysia

This story travels the journey on how an ordinary housewife undertaking on an extraordinary task in making positive change to her community.

Ubin, Sayang

Film maker: Rachel Quek Siew Yean
Country of origin: Singapore

Ubin, Sayang traces the journey of Xiao Ting as she learns from the stories of mangrove restoration and ‘kampong’ (village) living. In the context of modern Singaporean nostalgia for the kampong, the film brings together different perspectives on what the kampong spirit truly entails, and discusses its implications for us today.  This film was produced with the generosity of the National Geographic Young Explorers Grant in 2017.

Mangrove, the Sacrifice of a Land

Film maker: Alain Chaviano Aldonza
Country of origin: Ecuador

“Mangrove, The sacrifice of a land” is a documentary that tells the story of the mangrove in the Jambelí archipelago through its protagonists. In Ecuador, mangroves develop along the entire coastline from the Esmeraldas Province down to the Oro Province. For 5,000 years our ancestors settled around these forests developing their livelihood and their own worldview.

The Guardian of Kinabalu

Film makers: Lloyd Spencer Davis & Wiebke Finkler
Country of origin: New Zealand

Borneo’s Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in South East Asia, is the most biologically diverse place on Earth. In 2015, it was the epicentre of a deadly earthquake that killed 18 climbers. The Kadazan Dusun locals maintain that the earthquake was caused by the disrespectful behaviour of climbers who angered the spirits of the mountain. One such local, Alim Biun, has been protecting the mountain and keeping the spirits happy for 40 years but, facing mandatory retirement, he is worried about Mount Kinabalu’s future and that of its incredible range of animals and plants. He needs to find a successor.

Stop Deforestation

Film makers: Nurul Farzana binti Mazlan
Country of origin: Malaysia

Public service announcement about the consequences of deforestation to the animals

Araucaria Araucana

Film makers: Rémi Rappe & Santiago Serrano
Country of origin: France

In the Southern Andes, a thousand year old tree, the Araucaria Araucana survives for 200 million years. It’s story is little known and forever linked to an Amerindian people of Chile: the Pehuenches. This isolated community has survived for centuries thanks to the Araucaria. But the perfect harmony between man and nature will soon be disturbed by invasion of the Spanish settlers, territorial conflicts, logging and the fires.

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