25-29 October 2021

Matak malirin – greening coolness: Water and the vitality of life in Timor-Leste

As water resources diminish with increasing population and economic pressures as well as global climate change, this 2-minute film draws our attention to local uses, beliefs and rituals associated with water. In many areas, water is not only a vital resource but is also endowed with an agency and power that connects people, spirit beings, place and space. In the words of Jose da Costa, custodian of the water, ritual elder and healer from Baucau District in Timor-Leste, “Water cures people. Water gets its power from its coolness. All medicine gets its life from water. Water is more important than anything else”.

Camera, audio and directors — Lisa Palmer and Susanna Barnes

Creative producer — Seth Keen

Editors — Cormac Mills Ritchard and Susanna Barnes

Sound mix — Amy Hanley

Supported by the University of Melbourne, RMIT University, the University of Saskatchewan, the Firebird Foundation for Anthropological Research and by the Australian Government through the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Project Funding Scheme (DP160104519).

Tanawthari Landscape of Life – Conservation Alliance Tanawthari

“Our Indigenous Communities are the true experts and protectors of our territories. They have a deep understanding of how to manage and maintain their forests and biodiversity.”

This short film by the Conservation Alliance Tanawthari (CAT) presents a vision for Indigenous-led conservation in Myanmar’s Tanintharyi Region. Indigenous communities have managed this landscape and the biodiversity within for generations. Now large-scale agribusiness, mining projects, and top-down conservation efforts threaten the lands and livelihoods of local communities.

A collective of Indigenous Karen communities, organized as CAT, have launched a report detailing their plan for an alternative indigenous-led plan that protects the region’s rich biodiversity, respects traditional peoples’ knowledge, and supports peacebuilding.

To learn more about CAT and their vision for an Indigenous Conserved Landscape with the Tanawthari Landscape of Life, visit: 

CAT’s photo-essay on the Landscape of Life: 
Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN): 

Healing Forests & Forest Healers

From generation to generation, the local people of Mergui -Tavoy District –commonly known as Paw Klo Area, Tanintharyi Region – have been drinking an herbal tea made of local roots which they believe gives them good health and energy. The local people refer to these herbal roots not as plants, but as healers. This traditional herbal tea includes 30 to 100 varieties of medicinal roots.  Hence, traditionally this medicine is drunk in the forest. To preserve these herbal plants, they look after the forests, but face significant challenges in their forest protection efforts.

This short film features the richness of medicinal plants in Paw Klo’s Forests, the unique wisdom of its Indigenous herbalists, the efforts of the local community to preserve their herbal forests, and the threats they face. Please see the film for more details.

Karen Environmental Social Action Network (KESAN) and Tarkapaw Youth Group


Transformations – Wellbeing

Forest conservation in Korchi taluka in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra State in India, where Gond and Kanwar adivasis dominate, has been a means through which the local villages are moving towards social, political, economic and ecological transformation and are re-defining development and wellbeing.

Credits: Vikalp Sangam: 

Phasepardhis from Hunters to Keepers Journey of Transformation

Transformation of a bird-hunting tribe to protectors – Phase Pardhis of Wadala village in Akola district of Mahrashtra, India, use their traditional knowledge to regenerate grasslands and support its wildlife, enhancing livelihood options for themselves.

Credits: Vikalp Sangam: 

Rivers For Life

The forested hills by the river Rongyung in Dzongu, Sikkim form a sacred reserve of the Indigenous Lepcha people. The Lepchas believe that in the afterlife, their shamans help guide their souls to the final resting places in the caves beyond the mountains through the river. But now, a mega hydel project threatens the sanctity of the river. “Rivers for Life” chronicles the 12-year long campaign by the Affected Citizens of Teesta against the authorities to save their biodiversity-rich habitat.

Credits: Directed by Vandana Menon; Camera by Debashish Nandi ; Interns Srishti Chowdhary and Radha Agarwal; Edited by Vandana Menon and Debashish Nandi; Produced by Srishti films with Kalpavriksh for Vikalp Sangam Save Teesta: Vikalp Sangam: Kalpavriksh: Srishti School of Design:

Soqotra Heritage Project: Intangable Heritage

This short film shows some of the traditional crafts and practices of the Soqotra Archipelago, through footage shot by members of the Soqotra Heritage Project team.

Soqotra Heritage Project: Mission Statement

The Soqotra Heritage Project focuses on discovering, documenting and assessing the cultural heritage of the Soqotra Archipelago. This short film shows why the team think the heritage of their home is so important.

No Burma Military Dictatorship on Our Land

On the first week of February 2021, over 10000 of Karen people, who have suffered over 70 years of oppression from the Burma military, urged the illegitimate military to leave from their land in the Salween Peace Park while calling for the abolition of the 2008 constitution, the establishment of a genuine federal democracy. to recognize the rights to self-determination of ethnic peoples, to end chauvinism, to end political and armed conflict, to build genuine peace and to release all the leaders and protesters they have detained.

The revival of Manas National Park: Partha Pratim Das at TEDxSaraighat

Partha Pratim Das talks about a community’s commitment to wildlife conservation in the Manas National Park, that came to fore in the last decade. He throws light on a community based conservation model that worked wonders for Manas. He uses images and stories in this very impactful talk, and ends with a very interesting call to action for the TED community. This talk was recorded at TEDxSaraighat, on 15th February, 2014 at the Kanak Lal Barua auditorium in Guwahati, India.