Three films that touch the earth and how I connected with them…

‘Walk with Me’, ‘Tawai – a voice for the forest’ and ‘Down to Earth’

IMG_6217It all began when I went to hear my daughter give a presentation of her Extended Project which happened to be held in the film studies room at her sixth form college. As I looked at the film posters around the room with their ‘dark’ images and titles I asked myself if this was really what we wanted our children to be watching.

One poster jumped out, however, as different from the rest. It was a poster for a documentary film on Native Americans and included a picture of Sitting Bull, with his words quoted underneath: ‘Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children.’

This led me to reflect that it was up to me to offer something different for the sake of our


MV5BYjViODRlZjUtZmZhMC00Y2M3LTliZDYtOWU5NzljYmZkMWUxXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzExMzI5MA@@._V1_It motivated me to act on an idea I had to show the documentary film, about Zen Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh’s community, ‘Walk with Me’ at our local cinema, the Ryde Commodore.

I had been on several retreats with Thich Nhat Hanh’s community, the first one with my daughter in 2009, and had been following the story of the film and its release for a while.

I arranged to have it shown at our local cinema in January, this year. I did a lot of promotion as well as networking on social media beforehand and it received a brilliant response. On the night we exactly filled the cinema with 180 people. An unheard of record for anything other than a blockbuster! The collective atmosphere was amazing. It was as if the audience, absorbed in the film, became one!

In February, soon after this film showing, I discovered that an acquaintance, Tanja, was putting on a film called ‘Tawai – a voice from the forest’ produced by Bruce Parry from the BBC ‘Tribe’ series.

As a result of being deeply touched by the way of life of so many tribal groups worldwide, and witnessing the many threats to the land that they depend on and are intimately connected to, Bruce Parry has dedicated much time to supporting indigenous people through awareness raising. He echoes TNH message: ‘until we look at ourselves these things will continue’

I was amazed to find that tribe most featured in the film were the Penan of Borneo!

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The reason for this takes me back to 1994 when I was accepted for a teaching post at the

International School in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo. My dream to spend time in the rainforest and experience this rich ecosystem, of which I had only read, became reality when every holiday I travelled into the forest. I most often flew into the Kelabit Highlands, the High Plateau in the centre of Borneo, that could only be reached by light aircraft at that time.


On one occasion, with a local guide, some days into the forest, I met and spent some days

with a nomadic group of Penan, some of the last hunter-gatherers living this way. This meeting made a very powerful impression on me which anyone who watches ‘Tawai’ will understand.

Seeing with my own eyes the forest destruction and the logging roads that had finally reached this heart of Borneo I felt committed, on return to the UK, to help raise awareness whenever I could. As a result, I joined Survival International the charity for tribal people.

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I sent Survival International the photos I had taken of the Penan thereby fulfilling the promise I made to them to use the photos to raise awareness of the threats to their forest home.

Photographing the diary page for this blog I read again the quote below:

‘We do not want riches but we do want to train our children right’ – Red Cloud, Sioux.

I was delighted when one of the photos was included in Survival’s 2005 diary. I felt so disappointed when they stopped printing them in 2012 but it was during that year that I was introduced to my first Earth Pathways diary for 2013!


Straight away, I offered my help in promoting

the film ‘Tawai’ and again there was a really good turn out and great response to this profound and deeply moving film which Tanja, the organiser, concluded the whole world should see.

In July this year, when my mother took my daughter to see where she had lived around 34 years ago in Niton, they stumbled on a permaculture farm when they noticed a sign ‘raspberries for sale’ outside the house next to it. Upon investigating they met Gavin who, with his wife Lucy and son Boe, grows the forest farm there.

Soon after, I visited the forest farm myself and arranged for my daughter and me to spend a week in their ‘tiny house’ onsite accommodation for guests in September; a dream location in my favourite part of the island.

On returning I opened a facebook message from a friend with a link to a film called ‘Down to Earth’. As soon as I opened it, before even reading anything about it, my body started tingling all over in strong waves. I felt an instant connection to this film timed so closely to my own meeting with an off-grid family!

Soon after, a lady who works in our local Holland and Barrett store enquired if there were any more film showings coming up. I mentioned this film and she said, ‘the minute you mentioned ‘Native Americans’ I began tingling all over.’


I have signed up to be a facilitator for the film on the Isle of Wight and am arranging for ‘Down to Earth’ to be shown this autumn, soon after its September release.

I feel this is going to be a very special film both in raising awareness of our connection to the land and in being a catalyst for practical actions that truly touch the earth.

Also, I hope to be more successful in encouraging youngsters to come along particularly as the three children of the family that make the film play an important part in it.

I am so grateful to everyone involved in producing these films, for the connections they create and the inspirational messages they give.

Writing this blog I see the beauty of how connections unfold in ways beyond anything we could ever imagine, at the time, such as my journeys into the rainforest in 1994/95 connecting with a film showing in my local cinema more than 20 years later.

When I bought my first earth pathways diary in 2013 and admired the absolutely beautiful artwork I could not have believed that I would have an entry in 2019 because at that time I had not even begun to paint!!! How I came to find artist Nicola Gibbs and learnt to paint with free expression is another beautiful sequence of events, guided by angels!

(see Anna’s Earth Pathways Showcase Gallery page here)

And it is these connections that keep my spirits up when I can feel myself plunging into despair at the painful destruction, chaos and madness unleashed upon our earth, ourselves and all living beings by the disconnected ego part of our behaviour.

With thanks and gratitude to these reminders that we are not alone but are dearly loved and guided in ways beyond our imaginings.

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