The Sakuddei

John Sheppard
53 minutes


The Sakuddei are a small and ethnically separate community living on the island of Siberut off the west coast of Sumatra in Indonesia.The film tells of how the Sakkudei of today are influenced by many outside factors, through religious persecution and exploitation of the natural resources. The Sakkudei means of production and the rythm of daily life begins the film. The portrait given here of this type of community can be associated with several other films in this series from Granada: an impression that time does not matter much, that the necessities of existence can be easily provided, and that a profound sense of social harmony pervades the group.Their distinctive way of life and elaborate religious ceremonies, centred on the umah (ceremonial house) are under threat from the Indonesian government, which wishes to `civilise' the Sakuddei. These people are also threatened by a timber company from the Philippines, which has been granted a logging concession in the Sakuddei's territory.The first part of the film contains strikingly photographed scenes of ritual life in the umah, while in the second part there is an interview with a representative of the government who wants to send the Sakuddei children to school in a government village on the coast. The adults fear that the children will lose touch with their own customs and identity if placed in such an institution. Their concern forms part of a moving and dramatic film which explores the contrast between the Sakuddei's way of life and the various pressures of modern Indonesian society on them: Islam, money, police, administrators and the lumber companies.

Reimar Schefold