"Sawiyano: Traditional Arts & Crafts" is a documentary and book about the Sawiyano who live the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea. By following the daily lives of families, it is an intimate view into the lives of a tribe in the midst of cultural change. It will show where and how supplies are gathered in the rainforest and swamp, how objects are crafted, and the final uses of objects.
The elders have given me permission to do this documentary. This will be a collaboration between myself and Sawiyano who wish to participate in the project. They will choose the aspects of their lives they wish to share and some will also shoot their own videos and take photographs.
Having grown up in the Sawiyano tribe, I have an understanding of and deep appreciation for the traditional ways. Since earning a BFA and MFA in Painting and Drawing, I have an even greater respect for the arts and craft of the Sawiyano. Because the culture is changing, I feel it is important to capture traditional elements on film and in photos before more elders die. Not only is the documentation for the future generations of Sawiyano, but I hope this will others to gain an appreciation for the Sawiyano culture and to develop an interest in other indigenous cultures. Because traditional ways disappear as natural resources are depleted, I also hope the documentary will show the importance of leaving most areas of the rainforest intact.
The FilmThe film will likely be 100-120 minutes in length. All dialogue will be in Sawiyano and Tok Pisin (the trade language). Subtitles will be available in English and Tok Pisin. There will be more footage available on the DVD.
About the Book
The book content will mirror the film. The photos will take up most of the pages, with some descriptive text where needed. This will be in Tok Pisin, English and Sawiyano. The book will be a "coffee table book" in 2 sizes, large and medium. The medium size is 8 x 10 inches, about 120 pages, softbound ($50 to print). The large size is 13 x 11 inches, hardbound ($110 to print).
The Story Behind the Project
The lure of steel axes and machetes led a few Sawiyano to plantations where they were hired as cheap labor. The men eventually brought back goods like matches, salt, and knives. The Australian government came in to the area in 1965 and soon put an end to the cannibalism by placing perpetrators in jail. A small airstrip was cleared and the first missionary arrived in 1973. Soon after in 1975, Papua New Guinea claimed independence. The PNG government officials left the area in the early 1990s.
Some Sawiyano learned to read and write in the short-lived government school at the airstrip and missionaries also taught literacy. Through the last 60 years, many things have changed in the tribe. Cannibalism was abolished, tribal rivalries and fights were mostly stopped. Houses are no longer as high off the ground when fear of attack was prevalent. Some tribe members adopted a new religion, others continue to follow the old ways, while some mix a new faith with the ancestral traditions.
Despite the changes, many old ways of the tumbuna (ancestors) continue, especially in regards to crafts. Food is gathered in a similar manner each day as it was 60 years ago. Some houses now have some nails but the main traditional methods are still utilized. Bilums are the traditional bags of the country and they are still made by the Sawiyano, both with natural fibers and imported thread.
The documentary will show many aspects of the arts and crafts of the tribe. Because it will encompass so many elements, to ensure a level of continuity I plan to film the activities of primarily one small village of 2 or 3 extended families. In village life, men, women and even children have different roles and I will document how each activity supports another. For example, men make their own items such as woven bracelets, their own instruments, and their own bows and arrows. In addition to the actual making of objects, I will also film various locations in the rainforest where the supplies are gathered.
THE PROCESS / LOGISTICS
June – July: Production in New Guinea
Sept– Jan: Post-production / editing / locating publisher
Feb – March: Printing, Producing of Book & DVD
I will arrive in Wewak, Papua New Guinea and buy necessary supplies for the 6 week stay in the Sawiyano tribal territory. There is no electricity in there so I will be getting a solar panel and small backup generator to power the cameras and flashlights. A small Cessna will fly me, hopefully an assistant, the supplies and equipment to the Ama village airstrip. From there I will proceed on foot to a nearby village chosen by the tribe for me to stay.
I will work with the elders to decide the content of the film as well as who will be the main narrators of the film. Ideally, each activity will have a narrator; either a man, woman and child. I will also train them on how to use the cameras. I will be recording statements by tribe members regarding how they feel about traditional and imported methods for crafts.
I know Tok Pisin and much of the Sawiyano tribal tongue, but I will need help with some translation. When needed I will have a Sawiyano translate into Tok-Pisin and I will then translate into English.
The music throughout the film will be by members of the tribe. I will record vocals, drums and jaw harps.
IN THE FILM
1. Open with footage from the air or from the nearest mountain to get a shot of the area which will show rainforest and swamp as far as the camera can show to illustrate the isolation of the tribe.
2. Introduction to the village which is home to 2 or 3 extended families, Als torso intro to the narrators
3. Show aspects of typical life which will act as introductions to crafts. Some will be filmed by Bethany, others will be filmed by Sawiyano
4. Each art or craft will be shown from location of supplies, to the making of the item(s), to the final use.
5. Continue to intersperse elements of family life while being sure to show the larger community
6. Continuously film animal, bird, and insect life in the rainforest and swamps
7. End with interviews of tribal members regarding their opinions of their future and their land, mining and timber companies, and the continuation of “tumbuna” ways
YOUR SUPPORT = MORE EQUIPMENT, BETTER EQUIPMENT
Depending on funding, the goal is to take at least 2 Digital SLR’s with HD video capabilities and 2 small HD video cameras and a small amount of sound equipment. If the project receives more support, I will be getting more cameras. There is no electricity there so donations will also help to purchase a solar panel and small generator for electricity to recharge the batteries of the cameras.
THE REWARDSIf you are able to contribute, you can see the rewards on the right side of this window. Images of the photographic prints will be posted online in September and contributors can choose from them. The book and film will be completed in January and allowing time for producing, printing and shipping, they should arrive in donor's mailboxes in March 2013. For the larger contributions, one of the rewards is a item hand-crafted by a Sawiyano. These are the objects that will be made for and during the documentary. These could include items such as necklaces, armbands, woven bags called bilums, arrow heads, beaded headbands, and kundu drums.
THIS CAMPAIGN IS ALL OR NOTHING
If the project receives $5,000 or more in pledges, then the donations are received. If the collective donor pledges do not meet the $5,000 goal, we will not get to keep any of the funds pledged.
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