Projects on Penans should benefit group


  • Metro News
  • Wednesday, 09 Oct 2019

A movie about the Penans of Sarawak is showing in Europe now. — Photo courtesy of Bruno Manser Foundation

MIRI: Any local or overseas money-making project that features the Penans of Sarawak must benefit the indigenous people in the state.

Society for Rights of Indigenous People of Sarawak (Scrips) is of the view that the Penans must not be used for commercial gains by other people.

Scrips secretary-general Michael Jok said the latest international movie that featured the Penans would only be good if the proceeds benefitted the Penans.

“The movie shows the Penans and their struggle for survival in the forests of Sarawak that are facing logging disputes.

“However, there are certain things that need to be made clear.

“The most important question is, will the money made from the movie actually benefit the Penans?” he asked.

He wanted to know if the filmmakers would bring the money earned to the state and use it to improve the living conditions of the Penans.

“The movie will only be good for the Penans if they get some real benefits out of it,” Jok added.

On Sept 28, an adventure movie about the nomadic Penans filmed in the jungles of northern Sarawak premiered in Europe at the Zurich International Film Festival in Switzerland.

The film entitled Paradise War, the Bruno Manser Story was shown in the Swiss city in front of an international audience, said Bruno Manser Foundation (BMF).

In an email to StarMetro, BMF said the film was about Swiss environmental activist Bruno Manser and the Penans and their fight against logging activities in the forests of Sarawak.

The US$6mil (RM25.1mil) film features Penan actors Nick Kelesau and Elizabeth Ballang, it said.

“Manser is played by 29-year-old Swiss actor Sven Schelker.

“The film tells the story of how Manser came to Sarawak in 1984 and ended up living with the Penans.

“It shows real footage of the forests where he and the Penans lived and how they fought together against deforestation by logging activities.

“The soundtrack for the film is composed by Academy Award-winning composer Gabriel Yared,” said BMF.

Director Niklaus Hilber and producer Valentin Greutert worked on the film for 10 years in the jungles of northern Sarawak, it added.

Manser made headlines when he and the Penans staged widespread human blockades to disrupt logging operations in the forests inside Miri Division.

In the mid-1990s, he was arrested and deported from Sarawak.

It was said that in the late 1990s he managed to enter Sarawak again.

He supposedly went missing in the deep interior of northern Sarawak in the early 2000s.

He was reportedly last seen in Miri in May 2000 before heading into the jungle again.

Some locals claimed he was

trying to look for the nomadic Penans living in the Batu Lawi mountains near the Sarawak-Kalimantan border before he went missing.

Jok said it was important that the movie accurately depicted the real story of the Penans and their struggles in Sarawak.

So far, the movie has not made it to local theatres yet.


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