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The Day The Dead Come Back ~




Duration: 75-min (Screening)

53-min (Broadcast) 


Language: English

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Battling the march of modernity, an ancient tribal community in Borneo works to retain its identity and traditions by calling back the dead to reassert the orderly relationship between their world, the human world, and the surrounding jungle.


As one of the various ethnic groups in Borneo, the island’s Iban have their own language, values and a rich cultural heritage that has been compared to legendary Greek mythology. They are known as a feared jungle tribe hunting heads to display courage and exact revenge on enemies as they fought to claim a tropical jungle territory they could call home. The orderly relationship between the human world, the world of the dead, and Borneo’s jungle lies at the core of Iban existence.


But as generations now drift into modern city life, the Jabu family is returning to their communal longhouse to reassert a revered tradition - a three day festival of homage to call the dead back and reaffirm their relationship with the living.


Gawai Antu will involve a year of planning and draw tribal members in their thousands to the Iban's remote jungle homeland to recall the spirits of the dead in a ritual so complex and powerful most will experience it only once in a lifetime.


In a modern world, Gawai Antu – “The Festival of the Ghosts” is a rare affirmation of ancient tribal identity and unity, as the spirits of the ancestors are called to defy the modern erosion of tribal identity and once more bind new generations behind the Iban mind and spirit.

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