Indai, Apai, Darah

Mother, Father, Blood

Film

In the third film of a series highlighting Indigenous Peoples from the Wayfinders Circle initiative, a young girl growing up in the Indigenous-held forests of central Borneo follows ancient connections to earn the gift of a story – her People’s 1973 fight to preserve their lands amid rampant deforestation.

Watch the trailer for Indai, Apai, Darah (Mother, Father, Blood).

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Indai, Apai, Darah (Mother, Father, Blood)

Directed by Kynan Tegar (Dayak Iban)
2024 | Film 15 MIN. 47 SEC.

Throughout the island of Borneo, an explosion of palm oil plantations has led to mass deforestation and forced many Indigenous Peoples to allow logging of their sacred forests in exchange for immediate profitsHowever, in the Indonesian village of Sungai Utik, elders of the Dayak Iban people have been able to repel these extractive companies and protect the surrounding forestsThis short documentary, written and directed by 18-year-old Sungai Utik filmmaker Kynan Tegar, follows a young girl who makes a magical discovery while out in the woods, and learns of the brave deeds of her eldersIndai Apai Darah is a love letter to the trees, rivers and birds that surround Kynan’s village, as well as to the aging leaders who were able to safeguard their livelihoods.  As Sungai Utik elder Apai Janggut says in the film “The Earth is our mother, the forest is our father, and the river is our blood. 

Directors’ Statement and Bio

Directors’ Statement 
Indai, Apai, Darah” serves as my love letter to the village that raised not only me but also my father, his father, and countless generations before. The title itself derives from a cherished quote by my grandfather: “The land is our mother, the forest our father, and the river our blood.” This quote perfectly encapsulates the philosophy that guides our way of life in Sungai Utik. However, this way of life has faced persistent threats for decades. Loggers have had their sights set on our forest since the 1970s. It is only thanks to the unwavering determination of our elders that our forest remains in its current state – lush, warm, teeming with life, and imbued with peace. Through this film, my intention is to evoke this very feeling, which is then juxtaposed by the harsh reality unfolding in other parts of Borneo. Mass deforestation persists despite all efforts, and the future of the Indigenous Peoples who call these places home remains uncertain. With this film, I hope to have captured the beauty of their resilience and to provide the rest of the world with a glimpse into my perspective – that of a child from this community. 

Kynan New York Climate Week 2023 portrait

Kynan Tegar
Kynan Tegar is an 19-year-old photographer and filmmaker from the Dayak Iban tribe of the island of Borneo, Kalimantan, Indonesia. He is currently studying Social Anthropology at the University of Indonesia in Jakarta. Growing up in and around the traditional longhouse of his village of Sungai Utik, he has learned directly from the elders, their wisdom and values, their stories of resistance in the face of encroaching deforestation, and the threats to their way of life. Picking up his first camera as an inquisitive twelve year old, he was making his first short films soon after, and soon discovered the power of visual storytelling to communicate and change lives. Working with this new medium he crafts thoughtful and emotive imagery, highlighting the quiet daily lives of the people and the community within his tranquil village. He has won several awards and played film festivals throughout the world with his pensive and reverent style, highlighting his people’s traditional knowledge, and the importance of balance with nature. 

Key Participants

Apai Janggut portrait Apai Janggut 

Apai Janggut is a respected Elder and the Longhouse Spiritual Leader of the Indigenous Iban Dayak community of Sungai Utik on the island of Borneo. Born in the Sungai Utik Longhouse in 1934, he has been the leading voice for forest protection among his people since he took over leadership of the community from his father in 1982. 

When logging companies and Indonesian government officials first tried to incur on Sungai Utik land in 1973, a young Apai Janggut, known then as Bandi Anak Ragae, was among the community leaders who unequivocally denied their offers. For decades, he led multiple resistance efforts using sheer will and numbers to drive the many extractive interests away. After a long struggle, these efforts have resulted in the community securing legal recognition and ownership from the government of Indonesia of nearly 10,000 hectares of customary land by the Indonesian government. 

The work of Apai Janggut and other community leaders has brought international recognition to Sungai Utik, resulting in the community being awarded the the United Nations Development Program Equator Prize in 2019, and the Gelbenkian Prize for Humanity in 2023.

Apai Kudi Smile PortraitApai Kudi

Apai Kudi is a storyteller and Elder who leads many ceremonies and community initiatives for the Iban Dayak community of Sungai Utik. He often tells stories and teaches songs to the children and youth of the village, and is a key figure for many festivals and rituals that are central to Iban culture. As a young man, Kudi was among the first community members to discover illegal incursions by palm oil manufacturers and government officials onto Sungai Utik land. He helped to galvanize the community around protecting the forest and its life-giving ways, participating in protests and lengthy talks with government and corporate representatives, and eventually helping to secure official recognition and sovereignty over the forests they safeguard and study. 

Apai Gadja Portrait

 Apai Gadja

Apai Gadja is a respected spiritual Elder and naturalist who has lived almost his entire life in the forests of Sungai Utik, he leads important rituals and teachings for the community. Among the many fascinations inspired by his home is the diverse bird life of the region, and especially the Bird Omens, or Burang Bisa in the Iban language. The seven omen birds are Sengalang Burang (Brahminy Kite), Ketupong (Rufous Piculet), Beragai (Scarlet-rumped trogon), Pangkas (Maroon Woodpecker), Bejampong (Crested Jay) Embuas (Banded Kingfisher), Kelabu Papau (Diard’s Trogon) and Nendak (White-rumped shama). Apai Gadja helps to observe and interpret their unique movements and calls for the people of Sungai Utik, advising them on key decisions and the timing of various rituals and community activities.

Icha CU Portrait Icha

Icha, daughter of the forest, has grown up with the trees, animals and waters that surround her Longhouse home. One of nearly 300 residents of the Sungai Utik village, she has been learning about the customary ways to harvest plants and animals, how to weave the baskets and colorful cloths that are central to the work of the community, and how to leverage modern tools like GPS and cutting edge camera equipment to study and preserve the forest. She has also been learning about the lessons and powers of the Omen Birds of the forest, whose wisdom has always guided the Iban Dayak Indigenous peoples of Central Borneo. This is Icha’s first time participating in a film project with her village.

Screenings

Mountain Film Festival, Telluride, CO (Global Premiere)
Dates:
May 23 – 27, 2024
Location: Telluride, Colorado
More Info: CLICK HERE

Rio de Janeiro International Short Film Festival
Dates:
April 17 – 24,  2024
Location:Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
More Info: CLICK HERE

Press Notes

Here you can download the press notes, containing comprehensive information and insights into the making of the film, the people involved, images, contact and other information for press.

Download the press notes PDF

About Sungai Utik

Sungai Utik is a Dayak Iban Group in Kapuas Hulu, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. The Dayak Iban Sungai Utik continue to practice their customary systems, including the Rumah Betang (traditional longhouse) culture, which accommodates more than 300 people. From their 214-meter longhouse, the Dayak Iban Sungai Utik have protected their 9,504-hectare customary forest against corporate interests and illegal loggers. For decades, the Dayak Iban Sungai Utik have demonstrated their collective commitment and unity to defend their ancestral territories while practicing local management traditions. The Dayak Iban Sungai Utik have a customary spatial system of resource conservation and management guided by strict customary rules.  

The Dayak Iban Sungai Utik obtained a Certificate of Sustainable Forest Management from the Lembaga Ecolabel Indonesia—a credible and independent certification body, the Kalpataru award from the Vice President and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of Indonesia and were one of the selected communities that received the UN Development Program’s Equator Prize, in recognition of outstanding community initiatives that are advancing nature-based solutions for climate change and local sustainable development. 

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