People of the Forest

The ancestral forests of the nomadic Orang Rimba have vanished. In the short span of three decades oil palm plantations have replaced much of the tropical peatland rain forests in Jambi, Indonesia. The People of the Forest, Orang Rimba in their dialect, dream of a happy future but have nowhere to go.


People of the Forest: Orang Rimba presents how a marginalized group manages to survive in a world that seems to have turned 180 degrees on them. Only a generation ago the nomadic Orang Rimba hunted wild boars and gathered fruit in idyllic circumstances.

Sukur, one of the leaders of the Anak Dalam Tribe explains
the challenges of finding a permanent settlement.

But the perfect conditions of blissful communion with nature have disappeared and this nomadic group now struggles to survive on the fringes. They are pinned between the thinning forest and the relentless oil palm industrial farming that has taken over the land.

Memories of wild fruits and plentiful game hunting are in sharp contrast
with the near-starving conditions of some Orang Rimba.

In spite of their dire circumstances this ethnic and religious minority group remains optimistic and pro-active on the face of great adversity.

The Orang Rimba living in the oil palm plantations face shortages
of drinking water due to fertilizer and waste pollution.

The leaders of the Anak Dalam Tribe do their best to find compromises and practical solutions in the coexistence with nearby villagers and employees of the corporate oil palm plantations.

Sending the young generation of Orang Rimba to school may increase
their chances of succeeding in a changing world.

People of the Forest: Orang Rimba
A documentary short directed by Isaac Kerlow
Produced by EOS, the Earth Observatory of Singapore
Total running time: 14m 12s, color
Film Completed: August 2017


Screening Schedule

People of the Forest: Orang Rimba premiered at the Singapore Eco Film Festival, in the Art+Science Museum. It won Best Documentary at the Bucharest ShortCut Cinefest in Hungary, Best Documentary Short Film at WILLiFEST in New York City, and Best International Documentary EcoFilm at the Rural FilmFest in Spain. It also received Special Jury Awards in Cinematography, Documentary Short Film, Editing and Musical Score at the Formosa Festival of International Filmmaker Awards, a Documentary Short Award of Excellence and a Humanitarian Award of Distinction at the Accolade Global Film Competition, and a Special Jury REMI Award at the WorldFest Houston International Film Festival.

July 2019
xLabocine/Imagine Science JULY Issue #36, Nusantra – EXPLORING THE ARCHIPELAGO

June 2019
Georgia Documentary Film Festival , Atlanta, Georgia

April 2019
Courage Film Festival, Berlin, Germany, Semi-Finalist

March 2019
SXSW Films for the Forest, Austin, Texas
Meraki Film Festival, Berlin, Germany, and Madrid, Spain
Dumbo Film Festival NYC, Brooklyn, New York

October 2018
International Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Bali International Film Festival, Kuta, Indonesia
Williamsburg International Film Festival, WILLiFEST, New York City (Best Documentary Short Film)

San Antonio Film Festival, San Antonio, Texas
Rural FilmFest, Ciudad Real, Spain (Best International Documentary EcoFilm)

Kolkata Shorts International Film Festival, Kolkata, India
New Hope Film Festival, New Hope, Pennsylvania
SunChild International Environmental Festival, Vardahovit, Armenia

Oregon Documentary Film Festival, Wilsonville, Oregon

Beverly Hills Film Festival, Los Angeles, California
Ethnografilm, Paris, France
WorldFest Houston International Film Festival, Houston, Texas (REMI Award)

Albany FilmFest, Albany, California
Nepal Human Rights International Film Festival, Kathmandu, Nepal
PhotoDiversity Film Festival, New York City (Best Environment Short)

February 2018
Yountville International Short Film Festival, Yountville, California

December 2017
Formosa Festival of International Filmmaker Awards 福爾摩沙國際電影獎, Taichung, Taiwan (Special Jury Awards in Documentary Short Film, Cinematography, Editing and Musical Score)
San Jose International Short Film Festival, California

Oslo Independent Film Festival, Oslo, Norway

Hollywood Film Festival, Hollywood, California
Awareness Film Festival, Los Angeles, California
Laughlin International Film Festival, Laughlin, Nevada
Scandinavian International Film Festival, Helsinki, Finland
Great Lakes International Shorts Festival, Erie, Pennsylvania
Roma Cinema DOC, Roma, Italy

Singapore Eco Film Festival (World Premiere)

Bucharest ShortCut Cinefest, Bucharest, Romania (Best Documentary, also Finalist for Best Film, Best Director, and Best Editor)
Accolade Global Film Competition, La Jolla, California (Award of Excellence in Documentary Short, Humanitarian Award of Distinction)

Production Credits

Directed by ISAAC KERLOW
Featuring: SUKUR, NAWAR a.k.a. GUNAWAN, LETAI a.k.a. KUDUNG
Field Sound: LINH DUONG
Rimba Dialect Interpreter: KRISTIAWAN JOHN
Assistant Interpreter: ZAHIDA HAMID
Assistant Editor: IZZAH ANATI
Digital Effects: MARK CHEUNG
Audio Final Remix: GABRIEL SERRANO
Produced and Written by ISAAC KERLOW
Production Coordinator: ANTOINETTE JADE
Driver Coordinator: JEF
Drivers: ALIM and FEBY
Japanese Subtitles: MARI HAMAHASHI, YANYI
Special Thanks: Anak Dalam Tribe, Kerry Sieh, Fidel Costa, and Rudi Syaf.
With the collaboration and/or funding from: The Earth Observatory of Singapore, Conservation Community Indonesia KKI WARSI, National Research Foundation, Ministry of Education, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Asian School of the Environment, and Ke Yi Xiao Productions.