Frères des arbres: a vision of the world

As with each year, the FIFO organizes encounters between filmmakers, producers and the public. On Wednesday 7 February, in the Maison de la Culture’s big tent, Marc Dozier talked about his documentary Frères des arbres, l’appel d’un chef papou.


“I am crazy about peoples.” Marc Dozier, a filmmaker, loves to meet the peoples of the world. Over the past fifteen years, he developed a friendship with Mundiya Kepanga. This chief of the Huli tribe in Papua New Guinea travels the world to be the voice of the Papuan forest, a true reservoir of biodiversity and a sanctuary in danger of becoming extinct. “We have shared many adventures, Mundiya is my muse,” explains Marc Dozier to the public gathered in the Maison de la Culture’s tent. After having made a first film together, Marc Dozier and Mundiya renewed the experience to warn of the dangers that face nature, in particular the trees of Papua New Guinea. The film’s narrator is Mundiya himself. “He is a charismatic figure, full of humor, a philosopher and likeable. It was important that that we did not present our western viewpoints in place of his vision. Mundiya upends our perspective and raises questions on a universal message.”



To bear messages


Through this 85-minute documentary, that combines fable, investigation and portrait, the spectator rapidly understands the importance of the forest and its trees.


“For the Papuan tribes, trees are the brothers of mankind, they are our protectors. In Papua New Guinea, nature forms part of an individual property. One cannot benefit from it in a collective manner without obtaining permission from the owners. One cannot look at, take pictures of or touch a leaf, tree, or insect without the owner’s permission. A vision that is very different from that of a westerner.” Sitting under the canopy, sheltered from the rain, Marc Dozier describes one of the film’s touching scenes to the audience: it is when the chief stands before his “birth” tree. In Papua New Guinea, a tree is similar to a family picture; it represents the memory of a person. “Mundiya speaks to his tree, to the animals and other elements of nature,” confides the filmmaker who was especially moved by one scene. This sequence takes place in Paris, in the National Museum of Natural History. It wasn’t scheduled. Mundiya discovers the museum’s stuffed animals and begins to speak to them after the film crew has packed the cameras and are ready to leave. “I immediately told my team to film him. The film’s strongest sequence was completed in 15 minutes during which Mundiya says things I would be incapable of saying. I like movies that share the messages of others. The filmmaker must place himself at the service of others.”


To show reality


Through Mundiya’s point of view, Frères des arbres, l’appel d’un chef papou, that has already won seven awards, denounces deforestation and the export business. “Mundiya’s viewpoint is important because he blames not only the operators but also the Papuans. He has an open view,” says Marc Dozier who we see in the film. In his documentary, the filmmaker chose to show the behind-the-scenes work of his team. “It is important, because when we hide the technique, we hide what we are, and for me the purpose of the documentary is to question reality,” explains Marc Dozier, who raises a corner of the veil to help spectators better understand. Drone, cable system to shoot the trees close-up and add a more intimate tone… Everything, or almost is shown to the public. It took a year to prepare the film including two months of shooting. Each member of the team invested whole-heatedly and contributed his personal touch. “They all put their hearts into the film. Everyone collaborated on the film, including Mundiya who, like a filmmaker, followed the post-production process. We took into account his relevant remarks,” explains Marc Dozier, who incidentally screened the film for the Papuans. “The reactions were strong. They not only gained a better understanding of the issues, they are also very proud.” The filmmaker, who speaks the Papuan language, does not intend to stop here. He already has several other film projects with Mundiya. “We are preparing three new films. We will go to Japan, Brazil and Italy. We are short of money but we are optimistic. We surf in universes that raise questions on a certain vision of the world.” We hope to see the sequels at the FIFO!


FIFO / Suliane Favennec