The film’s name refers to an inherent connection people have to nature. Just how obvious was that connection to you, living in these communities as an outsider? One thing that became apparent to me was that these guys are meditating every day. Hunting is a meditation: you have to be in your senses, fully alert and aware for a prolonged period of time, so they’re automatically exercising a part of themselves that the rest of us usually don’t. Most of the religions we have today have come about since agriculture and it’s no surprise that once we start manipulating nature, we suddenly think that we’re above it, and that God looks like us. What the indigenous groups have to share is that they see themselves absolutely as equals within nature – part of it, not above it. What can the rest of us learn from their outlook? I genuinely think that there are lessons all humans can learn from these people. They are free in a way that we have no clue about. Wherever you are in the social strata of our modern way of living, we are exhibiting the stresses of individualism and separation from nature, from ourselves, from each other. I believe we carry a massive level of stress beneath the surface about what happens when we die. From my experience, these communities don’t have that: they know they’ll be looked after and that when they die, they’ll be remembered in the ground and in the trees.
Making Tawai took up five years of your life. Do you feel like the experience changed you? Tribe Absolutely.seriesto it uncomfortablecome years home, Whenago, becauseI livingwas I did alwaysmy away.I found readyI was looking a different forwarddiet, andto clean even sheets though and I could see the great wonders of the way these people were living, my own desires were stronger. But Tawai took me on an amazing personal journey and has allowed me to be more at peace with less, somehow. I’m considering starting a community to try to emulate some of their values: focusing on longevity, respect and the non-dominance of nature. I think it would spread like wildfire.
‘We think suddenlythat we’re above nature and that God looks like us’
Explorer and documentary-maker Bruce Parry has lived with some of the world’s most remote indigenous peoples. This autumn sees the release of his first feature-length film, Tawai. Named for the word the nomadic hunter-gatherers of Borneo use to describe their connection to nature, this beautiful, slow-paced film documents Bruce’s months spent living in tribal communities around the world, from the Amazon basin to the Indian subcontinent. Here, Bruce tells us about his experiences making the film. lonelyplanet.com/news Lonely Planet Traveller 27 Tawai will be on general release at independent cinemas on 22 September 2017