Filmmaker: Ayu, Indonesia

Impact Award Winner Restoring Balance with Nature Earthbeat Challenge 2021

The Challenge looked for films which showcased actions on climate change, biodiversity loss and land restoration. For our Impact Award, judges looked for films with an important message which should be shared more widely to benefit both local communities and wider international audiences.  Winners received smartphone film kits and their films and projects are showcased through Earthbeat.

"Floods" reveals how destruction of Borneo’s rainforest in Indonesia, has degraded nature’s ability to manage the extreme impacts of climate change.

Ayu Kusuma Pertiwi (27), from Central Kalimantan in Indonesia, entered her 3-minute film about the impact of environmental degradation on the island of Borneo.

She told Earthbeat more about the background to making her film and how she hopes it will help people better understand the issues. Here she reports on the recent fires and floods which have been increasing every year. The local community believe that the widespread cutting of rainforest to make way for palm oil plantations has degraded the ability of the environment to manage the excesses of climate change and ecosystem destruction.

Ayu hopes her film will help people understand the real impacts of climate change and inspire their own actions.

Ayu’s words have been lightly edited for clarity.

Kalimantan - Wikipedia

The campaign behind the film

Our film was shared for the first time as an entry for 2021 Earthbeat Challenge. I am a campaigner at Walhi Central Kalimantan, and the film is also a part of our #KaltengTolakDeforestasi (Central Kalimantan Says No to Deforestation) campaign.

Central Kalimantan is a major province in Indonesia and the largest Indonesian territory in terms of forest and peat swamp. However, the ecosystem has been devastatingly degraded, particularly since 1996 when the mega rice project destroyed the peat ecosystem. Since then, people have to suffer from the smog caused by fires during dry season. It happens every year, but since 2020 the rainfall began increasing and many areas are now inundated by floods after heavy rain.

It can be more difficult for outsiders to understand the impacts of climate crisis than the local residents.  The government continues the narrative that it’s flooding caused by heavy rain or the land’s burning because it’s too dry.  However, the local community have noticed that that the environment has been gradually losing its ability to keep up with the climate due to destructive negligence and unquestioned activities. We hope this film can help people to understand the real ongoing impacts of ecosystem degradation and the climate crisis.

Making the film

With Save Our Borneo we attended an Earthbeat training course covering the basic theory. We started off only with what we already have, our own smartphones and a tripod for the interview. The video is not quite stable enough because we did not have a stabilizer and did not use a tripod to film the shots. To record the narration, we also only used a smartphone. Technology was our saviour!

For editing, we used commonly available video software.  We were allowed to use the computer at Save Our Borneo and were taught and assisted by our mentors. We had many discussions and learned along the way.

This is my first serious short film. I have sometimes edited short videos for campaigns, they were not scripted at all.  I am very glad for taking the training and joining the Challenge.

If I were asked what would help me to make films in the future, my answer would be more equipment and trainings in script writing.

What next?

At the moment I am working on another short film.  To support our campaign we need more people to share the film and start discussions from it. We need more awareness, so we can to take greater action. That is why connections or networking are really needed, so we can share the film and hold discussions/events.

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Read more about this topic

Deforestation: In Indonesia’s new rice plan, experts see the blueprint of an epic past failure Mongabay, environment and conservation news platform

Forest fires: Indonesia haze: Why do forests keep burning? BBC News


The Impact Award is supported by Bertha Foundation.  The jury looked for stories and films which have an important message which they feel should be shared more widely to benefit both local and international communities.

Read about other Impact Award Winners