Watch a film, save a culture - video
Eight years ago, in a previous life, Rob Henry had been a Melbourne surfer who found himself at a desk in the city, staring out the window and watching the pace of life quicken on a daily basis. Deeply disillusioned with working life, and with the GFC crisis highlighting to him how, “the Western world had got it so wrong,” Rob jumped on a plane and found himself on a remote island off the coast of Indonesia.
Harbouring a deep interest in the simple life of the locals working on the island’s coconut farm, Rob lived with them for six months, learning both local languages, and grew curious about how these people with so little seemed so much happier than the people working their days away in Melbourne. It was while he was here, however, that he learned of an indigenous tribe who were living deep in the forest of Siberut and made the decision to venture in and meet them. Eight years later, he was still there.
The tribe lived just as they had for thousands of years, and Rob over time assimilated to their way of life. Living in the village with no contact with the outside world, he ate, hunted, took part in shamanistic rituals and eventually received traditional tribal tattoos. All the while he respectfully filmed and interviewed the tribe, documenting a way of life threatened by the modern world. “In the forest it’s near impossible for them to grasp what’s happening out in the world,” says Rob. “They want to protect their culture, but aren’t aware of the complexities of what’s going on around them.”
Over time and caught between two worlds, Rob soon grew to understand that the tribe’s way of life was under enormous pressure from the outside world – cultural pressure for the tribe to assimilate with the Indonesian way of life, and economic pressure as their precious forests are being coveted by logging companies.
Rob arrived back in Australia with the footage and decided to edit it into something that he could use to tell the story of the tribe… and help them save their way of life.
As World’s Divide is part documentary, part fundraiser. The movie will screen globally for 30 days during the month of October, utilising the innovative online platform at Garage Entertainment. For a $10 donation you’ll get a digital copy of the film and your donation will go to a cultural education program via the Indigenous Education Foundation to keep this Mentawai indigenous culture alive.
Rob Henry: “I’d like to think they’ll still be practicing their Arat Sabulungan culture in 30 years and it seems their best chance to share their story and gain support is through this film… providing them an opportunity to fund their cultural education program and their children to learn the value of their culture and the land.”
Pledge your support for Mentawai and grab a copy of the film at www.iefprograms.org/wafsac
Rob will appear on The Project this Thursday night talking about As World Collide.