Your Stage : Is it worth making a film to try and save the last few hundred members of a dying tribe? by Kenny Mann

Kenny Mann

Is it worth making a film to try and save the last few hundred members of a dying tribe?

Hello all, I'm a documentary filmmaker and have been presented with a fascinating topic: I was born and raised in Kenya and most of my work is connected with African issues. I have been put in touch with a young man of the El Molo tribe, that has lived in the desert region of northern Kenya for untold centuries. Unlike the surrounding Turkana and Samburu tribes, the El Molo are not nomadic keepers of livestock. They are fishermen, relying on Lake Turkana for their survival. Now, the Ethiopian government, financed by the Chinese, is in the process of building a number of huge dams across the rivers that feed Lake Turkana so that Ethiopians can receive electricity. Northern Kenya does not benefit in any way from this development and within a few years, the lake will dry up, depriving the El Molo as well as the Turkana and other smaller tribes of their means of survival. I have been asked to make a film documenting this event. Personally, I am not sure that the tribes can be saved - the powers moving are too great - so I am not including a "call to action" - but am thinking more of a poetic expose that includes the political, environmental and personal issues without hitting audiences over the head. What will I achieve? I will not save the tribes. Can I raise the moral question of whether such tiny minorities should be considered in the greater picture? Of course, my personal opinion is that they should be considered. My El Molo friend says that he does not want to be "an artefact in a museum, or 'dead data'". What do you think?

Andrew Sobkovich

Absolutely this is a worthwhile project. Documenting and saving are 2 different things. Documenting the people, culture and threat requires a journalistic approach. Look fairly at all sides and present them equitably. Let the viewers decide upon the moral issue when they've been presented the facts. Saving probably requires a more activist approach presenting the culture and specific individual's stories and how they would all be effected or lost should X, Y, and Z happen. The more emotional the better. The approach is up to you, either way it seems worthwhile. Good luck.

Michael Dean

I'm a fan of documentaries. They often show me a part of the world and even the human condition that I would otherwise never see. I don't know what impact a documentary will have on the tribe, but I believe that exposure would only be a good thing. Sometimes sharing a problem leads to connecting with a solution.

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