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Entertainment


Cannes Film Festival bats for survival of planet earth

Cannes, May 23 (UNI) A group of Penan indigenous people native to tropical rainforests in South East Asia has walked the red carpet at the 77th Cannes Film Festival to call for protecting the fast depleting biodiversity of the planet.
Nelly Tungang, Komeok Joe and Sailyvia Paysan from the Penan community in Malaysia and Brunei who walked the red carpet in Cannes were part of the cast in the animation film, 'Savages', directed by Swiss filmmaker Claude Barras.
'Savages', which premiered in the Special Screenings section of the Cannes festival, tells the story of Keira, a little girl, battling the destruction of her ancestral forest home in Borneo.
"The Penan people have been fighting for protecting rainforests for the past three decades," says Barras, the director of "My Life as a Courgette", which premiered in the Directors' Fortnight parallel section at the Cannes festival in 2013.
"A lot of Penan community members have been arrested and died for the cause," adds Barras, who was inspired by Swiss environmentalist Bruno Manser, who was taken in by the Penan people after he went to live with the community two decades ago.
An ecological fable in stock motion, "Savages" is about tropical forests, native people and deforestation, explains Barras, who went to Malaysia and Brunei to research for the film.
"Deforestation has already caused extensive damage on a large scale," says the director, referring to deforestation in areas where the Penan people live today. "But it is still 20 percent primary forest, with people living in a traditional way, perhaps not completely self-sufficiently, but who wish to preserve their way of life and their forest," he adds.
"Multinational corporations, with the support of politicians, are destroying the forest to sell wood and produce palm oil. It is a very topical fight. Considering all the energy needed to make a film, I needed it to respond to an urgent struggle as a form of social utility, and political commitment," says Barras.
"I grew up in the forest with my parents. Problems started when some forestry companies came. They didn't tell us that they had come to destroy our forest. We later realised that animals had disappeared and fish were dying. That is also the reality in the film," says Komeok Joe, a Penan community member from Borneo in Brunei.
The world premiere of "Savages" will be followed by an impact campaign around the world in which several international voluntary organisations like Foodwatch, Greenpeace, One Voice and Pan Eco would be partners along with the film's production team.
"We will fight for the protection of our forests right till the end," says Komeok Joe, who arrived in Cannes with a set of Penan bamboo musical instruments to campaign for his community's cause and the survival of the planet.
The Cannes Film Festival, which kicked off on May 14, will come to a close on May 25.
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