This playlist is from Cinemata, a platform for social and environmental films about the Asia-Pacific. It is a project of EngageMedia, a non-profit media, technology, and culture organization. This is edited and republished as part of a content-sharing agreement with Global Voices.
In celebration of World Environment Day on June 5, EngageMedia curated a playlist of documentaries and short films on how communities across the Asia-Pacific are fighting to preserve and protect their lands against environmental degradation, industrialization, and climate change. These films on Cinemata, a mix of new uploads and works from the archives, take us from Nueva Vizcaya (“Dagami Daytoy”) in the Philippines and Nam Dinh province in Vietnam (“Another Exodus”), to Sawarak in Malaysia (“Melikin”) and Taunggyi in Myanmar (“Plastic Outlive Us”).
The playlist also includes award-winning films, among them “Dagami Daytoy” (winner of the 2020 Gawad Cultural Center of the Philippines Para sa Alternatibong Pelikula at Video), “Anak Pokok” (Films for the Forest, SXSW Community Screening), and “Kaise Jeebo Re!” (winner of the 1997 International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam).
Philippines: Dagami Daytoy (This is our Land)
In “This Is Our Land”, Filipino filmmaker Noni Abao chronicles how local indigenous communities in Nueva Vizcaya, northern Philippines, are fighting against years of environmental degradation by calling for the closure of OceanaGold, one of the largest producers of gold and copper in the world. This documentary won the grand prize in the 2020 Gawad Cultural Center of the Philippines Para sa Alternatibong Pelikula at Video and was the second-place winner in the 2020 Yale Environment 360 Video Contest. Since Abao finished filming, dozens of the activists who organized the road blockade have been arrested following clashes with police and company representatives.
Malaysia: Doa Seorang Nelayan (A Fisherman's Prayers)
Zakaria Ismail believes it is his divine calling to defend fellow coastal fishermen from a land reclamation project in southern Penang that threatens to bury their fishing grounds under 4,500 acres of reclaimed land. He and other members of his village are labeled B40, referring to the bottom 40 percent of Malaysian households with monthly incomes of RM 3,900 (949 US dollars) and below. In this story about class struggle, tensions between modern and traditional values, and the Machiavellian interventions of political actors, Zakaria turns to his God for wisdom and courage to stand against one of the most ambitious projects being carried out in New Malaysia.
Indonesia: Mother Earth (Ibu Bumi)
Bagus, a 20-year-old farmer who lives in the fertile area of the Kendeng Mountains, Central Java, is anxious about the environmental damage that has occurred in his region. Together with his punk band Kendeng Squad, Bagus voices this anxiety. He made a video clip “Berani Bertani” to record the sounds of nature and the destruction that occurs. Bagus hopes the music can inspire the younger generation to keep protecting nature.
Vietnam: Another Exodus
A fishing village in Vietnam wakes up in the murmur of predawn prayers while the ebb and flow of waves hit the breakers. Fishermen from the older generation quietly recall the good old days, anxiously awaiting what’s coming up next. They know of the exodus every 50 or 60 years, where they'll have to move away from the shorelines because of climate change. Once prosperous neighborhoods have become poor fishing villages, and fertile fields and fruitful orchards have been destroyed by the rising seawater. “Another Exodus” is a short documentary by Vietnamese filmmaker Le Nguyen.
This advocacy film was used to lobby the Myanmar central government to increase the water supply in Myanmar regions affected by droughts. The film was produced in 2016 by participants in the Picture People workshop on visual storytelling for change held in Yangon, Myanmar
Indonesia: Dayak Facing the Giants
The continuing industrialization of Indonesia is endangering its indigenous people and causing massive environmental destruction and social conflict. This documentary follows the Dayak people of Kalimantan in their response to these threats, particularly the forest fires and toxic haze in the region.
This is the story of Melikin. The story of many indigenous peoples in Sarawak who lost their native land to palm oil companies. With the help of corrupt politicians, almost 10,000 hectares of forest and agricultural lands were flattened and fences were erected, barring indigenous peoples from entering their own ancestral land.
Cambodia: Forest Conservation: A Message from Indigenous Women
“Climate Change is a reality. In order to mitigate its adverse impact, there no doubt that we need to conserve our forests. In this video meet the women and men of the Kouy indigenous peoples of Cambodia to discover more about what the forest means to them and how indigenous women have taken the lead to protect the forest.”
Myanmar: Plastic Outlive Us
The aim of this Public Service Announcement (PSA) is to influence Taunggyi's residents in Myanmar to change their practices around plastic recycling. This PSA was produced by the participants of Picture People's Visual Storytelling workshop for Social Change in Taunggyi, Myanmar in October 2019. Taunggyi is the capital and largest city of Shan State, Myanmar and is situated on the Thazi-Kyaingtong road at an elevation of 4,712 feet.