Iber Djamal (77), part of the indigenous communities in Borneo, risking the rest of his life to get rights to his customary forest. But his family and people in his village believe he is too old to fight back.
One million hectares of Borneo’s rainforest were destroyed for Mega Rice Project since the ‘90s. Iber Djamal (77), part of the indigenous communities who strongly opposed this projects, keeps on pursuing the only legal way to protect the forest by obtaining a legal customary forest title for the remaining forest in his area.
Barasak Island is the last forest area in Pilang Village, Central Kalimantan. Iber Djamal tried to get government recognition of the status of the Barasak Island customary forest. Although he lacks support from his family and village residents, he still tries to collect all the documents required by the government to obtain the customary forest certificate. But in the midst of his struggle, Iber's private land was claimed by someone else. He has to choose between managing the Barasak Island forests or managing his land dispute. While massive forest fires are still coming, at the same time, Iber puts his hopes high on his 6 year old grandson, Demetri, who starts asking questions about the forest, and put on a hope that the younger generation still care about protecting their ancestral forest.
I met Iber Djamal in 2014 when I was starting to filming the burning session in Kalimantan. The smoke and haze generated by the forest fires also caused disruptions and economic loss to many neighboring countries, causing diplomatic tensions. But at that time, I didn’t follow Iber Djamal deeply because I focused to make a story about the impacts of the forest fires and climate change. At that time, I visited not only rainforest in Kalimantan, but also in Papua. It was the first time for me to see condition of my country’s rain forest. My country already exploited our rainforest out of control for many years. It was the moment when I think I had to make a film about this.
My previous film about forest fire in Kalimantan and Papua finally finished in the end of 2015, but I think I haven’t finished with the subjects yet. I decide to continue the journey of this topic to make a film based on the story of my main characters Iber Djamal and make a deeper connection with him. I start to build the story by Iber’s personal story.
Why I choose Iber? Iber is one among the thousands of victims of Indonesia’s Mega Rice Project. He has trauma and I always picture that he has ‘the flame’ inside him, an agony and anger that hasn’t finished until now. That’s one of the reason also why I pick that title for the film. He always cries when I asked about Mega Rice Project, but also thinking about what would happened with the forest in the future, especially if we do not take actions about it. I respect him because he never gave up, even with his declining health condition.
Forest is a symbol of life, balance, and wisdom of life. I am really interested to explore the connection between forest and humans, generation by generation. I am developing my story that not only about Iber, but also to see the different connections between forest and three generation in one family : Iber, his son, and his grandson.
After long research, I started to do this shooting again in 2018 focused on Iber’s family. This film is also talks about Iber and his three generation of family. Iber is struggling to save his land and forest from the palm oil company, but his children wasn’t concerned about this and think that they should take just the money like everyone else. Meanwhile, the next generation (Iber’s grandson) is starting to ask about forest and everything that is already and going to be lost.
My visual concept for the flame is more static visuals, especially for Iber, giving more time to audience to feel what our character’s feel. Our sound design is more atmospheric sound especially for burning parts, and I will use a lot of natural sound of forest in the sound design. In some part, the film’s going to be silent, in order to capture the flame inside Iber.
I hope, this film, by this personal story of Iber’s family, will open our government to see and make great policy to save Indonesia’s Indigenous Forest. Iber's family is a part of us, a part of Kalimantan. If Kalimantan will not be saved, it will create a domino impact to the balance of the world. Deforestation has led to soil erosion, massive forest fires and climate change. A fight that we have to conquer, in order to save the future.