Otago film­mak­ers turn the lens on par­adise

Otago Daily Times - - GENERAL - ELENA MCPHEE elena.mcphee@odt.co.nz

TROUBLE on a Bor­neo moun­tain thought by lo­cals to be par­adise is one of the sub­jects of an award­win­ning film co­pro­duced by Univer­sity of Otago aca­demics.

The Guardian of Kin­a­balu was co­pro­duced by Wiebke Fin­kler, from the depart­ment of tourism, and Lloyd Spencer Davis, from the Cen­tre for Science Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and is about Mt Kin­a­balu, the cen­tre­piece of a na­tional park in Bor­neo which is the most bi­o­log­i­cally di­verse place on Earth.

The film cov­ers themes of myth, cul­ture, con­ser­va­tion and tourism, and was re­cently awarded the Spe­cial Jury Prize at the 11th In­ter­na­tional Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Fes­ti­val.

Prof Davis said he and Dr Fin­kler, who made the film in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Univer­sity Col­lege Sabah Foun­da­tion in Bor­neo, and the univer­sity’s for­mer vice­chan­cel­lor Prof Is­mail Ghaz­a­lly, were ‘‘re­ally chuffed’’.

The film fol­lows park ranger Alim Biun, who has de­voted his life to the park, study­ing the plants and an­i­mals there over 40 years, and it also fo­cuses on an in­ci­dent in 2015 when an earth­quake killed 18 climbers. The quake oc­curred af­ter a group of tourists un­dressed on the moun­tain.

Many of the lo­cal Kadazan­Dusun peo­ple be­lieved such dis­re­spect­ful be­hav­iour had an­gered the spir­its of the moun­tain — where they be­lieved their souls went when they died — and four of the tourists were ar­rested.

‘‘It put into stark con­trast the kind of Western views of a place, ver­sus the lo­cal and spir­i­tual be­liefs that are at­tached to it,’’ Prof Davis said.

Karsten Sch­nei­der, of Dunedin’s Burn­ingFish Pro­duc­tions, an­i­mated Kadazan­Dusun leg­ends that are in­te­grated into the film.

Ley­ton Glen, of Dunedin, com­posed the mu­sic and pro­duced the sound­track.

Dunedin ac­tor Brian Beres­ford was the nar­ra­tor and the colour grad­ing was car­ried out by St Leonards film­maker Phil Dav­i­son.

Cen­tre for Science Com­mu­ni­ca­tions staff mem­ber Robert Brown was the main cam­era­man, and Dr Fin­kler and Prof Davis also con­trib­uted to the cam­era work.

The New Zealand pre­miere of The Guardian of Kin­a­balu will be at the univer­sity on Novem­ber 16.

❛ It put into stark con­trast the kind of Western views of a place, ver­sus the lo­cal and spir­i­tual be­liefs that are at­tached to it


Tak­ing di­rec­tion . . . Wiebke Fin­kler, of the Univer­sity of Otago, di­rects stu­dents from Univer­sity Col­lege Sabah Foun­da­tion film­ing in Kin­a­balu Park.

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