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A film about the Sengwer tribe of the Embobut Forest, Kenya, being evicted from their ancestral land in the name of conservation.
A film about the Sengwer tribe of the Embobut Forest, Kenya, being evicted from their ancestral land in the name of conservation.
50 backers pledged £1,950 to help bring this project to life.

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**UPDATE 06/10/14 **  We have already reached our minimum target! I asked for the bare minimum I needed to get back to Kenya and film for one more month. Any additional money will be used to edit the film, sound mix, create music and all of the other things that a documentary needs. So please continue to contribute if you can and share if you feel like it. 

Dean Puckett

I have just returned from a month of filming an indigenous tribe, the Sengwer as they struggle to remain on their ancestral land in the Embobut Forest of the Cherangani Hills, Kenya. I have some truly breathtaking and heartbreaking footage but in order to capture the full spectrum of Sengwer life and investigate further, the outside influences in the evictions of this community, I need to go back for one more month. 

Background

Since 2007, repeated attempts at evicting the Sengwer from the Embobut Forest in the Cherangani Hills have been made by the Kenyan Government in the name of conservation. Between 2007 and 2013, the World Bank funded a programme called the Natural Resource Management Programme (NRMP) overseen by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS)

The programme has lead to forcible evictions of the Sengwer as over 1000 homes have been torched as they have been forced to flee their homes, driven out by military police on the orders of the KFS, in  violation of their human rights. The World Bank's role in all of this is being investigated.

The situation the Sengwer find themselves in, is also linked to an initiative called REDD - a UN initiative, (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) which, “is an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development." However, Friends of the Earth are concerned that REDD could “foster an ‘armed protection’ mentality that could lead to the displacement of millions of forest-dependent people.”

Another Way

Conservation science now tells us that when forest dwelling communities have secure rights to their lands, they are six times more effective than state agencies at protecting their forests.

Embobut Forest
Embobut Forest

The Film

It is the first time any significant filming has been done of the Sengwer and their culture. If the story sounds a bit complicated, it's because it is, but what I found in the forest was in some ways very simple. A fascinating and joyful community attempting to hold on to their culture and resist eviction in the face of serious adversity. The film will focus, not only on the larger implications of the Sengwer story, but the everyday, small moments of life within the community. With your help we will produce a cinematic, anthropological document of a community at a crossroads, facing an uncertain future. The film also has the potential to increase pressure on the World Bank to stop the KFS's activities and allow the Sengwer to remain on their ancestral lands, conserving the forest like their ancestors always have.

Why Crowdfunding? 

These evictions are happening now, as you read this, and it takes ages for broadcasters and funding institutions to green light things, so this is the only way I can get the funds to get back in November and capture the situation as it is on the ground right now.I am asking for the bare minimum I need to get back to Kenya and film for one more month.

The Team

Executive Producer - Jyoti Fernandes

Jyoti Fernandes lives on a smallholding in Dorset, England, growing organic produce for local markets. She is a campaigner with Grassroots Action on Food and Farming on farming and development issues, and advises Chapter 7 smallholders in the UK on how to get planning permission for building their own dwellings. She also so co- founded The Land magazine and is an all round top person. If it wasn't for Jyoti this film wouldn't have happened, she alerted me to the story and part-funded the first filming trip. I must also thank her 4 daugthers, Elle, Anya, Chloe & Ari Saltmarsh who accompanied us on the first filming visit for all of their help and support.

Producer - Rebecca Wolff

Rebecca Wolff produced BFI Shorts Scheme supported short film SIDNEY which recently had its premiere at the BFI/LFF and gone on to screen at LSFF. Prior to this she worked for five years at BAFTA-award winning tv/film and commercials production company The Producers as a development producer. During this time she developed four feature films up to financing level as well as being heavily involved with the financing process and pulling together key crew. She has also worked on commercials/promos and animation/art films including a performance art film for the Tate Modern starring Jude Law. Alongside this work she has edited three children's books for writer/director Sandra Goldbacher (The Hour, Me Without You, The Governess). She is now developing documentary projects with director Dean Puckett  (Crisis of Civilisation, Grasp the Nettle) for broadcast and theatrical release.

Further reading

Illegal and forceful evictions of the Sengwer indigenous people from their ancestral lands in the Cherangany Hills, Kenya - Forest Peoples programme 

World Bank and UN carbon offset scheme 'complicit' in genocidal land grabs - NGOs - The Guardian 

World Bank accuses itself of failing to protect Kenya forest dwellers - The Guardian

Risks and challenges

There are some obvious risks associated with filming in a potentially volatile situation but other than that, none. The film is half shot and that footage is safe and sound back at our HQ

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Funding period

- (30 days)