Sunset Over Selungo

2014, Society  -   6 Comments
Ratings: 8.97/10 from 61 users.

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.

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6 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Sarah

    This documentary had my attention the moment it started. So captivating and I fell in love with the tribe. I truly admire their way of living and every other tribe which is why I definitely will support them! My wish is to one day get more involved with keeping forests such as these ones preserved and protected so that tribes and other inhabitants and wild life can thrive within them. It's time to take action and help one another out!

  2. Insignificantly Significant

    Someone called the Z'oe tribe, "sweet rain forest bumpkins", on TDF a while back. It's been one of my favorite comments, to date. I'd like to ask: how is religion, poisoning these sweet rain forest bumpkins; as so many say, it poisons everything?

    And if they did violently object: we probably would first look to blame their religion; instead of the actual political or socioeconomic causes of why their so "fervent", in the first place.

    Sorry, I couldn't help it.

    And I want to be a blowpipe maker, when i grow up! lol

    1. Anthony Sims

      That's a lot of hypotheticals. Why not just try and show some empathy instead of twisting the question to suit your needs?

    2. Insignificantly Significant

      Everyone has an agenda, and there should be nothing wrong with expressing it. They're trying to get the rights to one of the last regions, of the are left. I'm sure, if they were a more "up to date" culture; they would have better chances. Who knows. The film starts off with the guy talking about God. I can imagine, from the increasingly pejorative view of religion; many stopped taking the film serious, before it really even started. They're seen as religious savages, in the woods.

      Not everyone on this site speaks like this about religion; not even all of those who aren't religious. But many speak of religion, as if it should be "cleansed" from the earth.

      It is particularly relevant, and I def am showing sympathy for them, but ok.

    3. Ringo

      Do you support these people or not? I'm confused.

  3. oQ