Featured Documentary

Sunset Over Selungo 2014 - 3545 min.

Synopsis:

Part conservation crowdfunding message, part social justice documentary, Ross Harrison's short film Sunset Over Selungo follows three members of the Penan tribe that have lived for centuries in the secluded rainforests of Borneo - a husband and wife that have spent forty years together, Sia and Unyang, and a seasoned hunter, Dennis.

At the outset of the story, we are introduced to the daily life of Sia and Unyang - a simple but fulfilling one that is one hundred percent dependent on the surrounding rainforests, and entirely devoid of the everyday conveniences that more industrialized urban civilizations take for granted. Beginning at 5:30 AM, Sia wakes and begins cooking for he and his wife - a steady diet of rice and fish caught by his own hand in the nearby river.

We then follow him out to do some of that fishing, which is not done via hook and line, but rather with a hand-crafted net. Afterwards, some time is spent showing the domestic lifestyle of Sia and Unyang, where they are given the opportunity to talk about the importance of hard work and how their mutual affinity for it is what sparked their union four decades prior. Before the baton is passed to the film's other subject, Dennis, some of the couple's collective farming efforts are shown.

We then meet Dennis, a savvy jungle hunter that speaks - much of it in English - on how he was taught the things he knows about surviving and thriving in this setting. One discipline he is highly skilled with is blowpipe hunting, which leads the filmmakers to meeting Balan, the local blowpipe master craftsman. We then are shown the painstaking process Balan has perfected over decades of practice; he spends two full days alone just boring the hole down the center of the five-plus-foot length piece of wood they are crafted from. We are also shown the process of poison-tipping the darts for the weapon, which is done with a lethal neurotoxin capable of killing a grown man in seconds.

The last leg of the film delves into the impressively well-organized community conservancy efforts the tribe has staged over the years to detour local logging efforts, and why it is important to everyone, not just the locals, that rainforests like theirs are saved from total eradication by logging outfits.