Distributor:  Bullfrog Films
Length:  60 minutes
Date:  1989
Genre:  Expository
Language:  English
Grade level: 10-12, College, Adult
Color/BW:  Color
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Blowpipes and Bulldozers

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The story of the Penan, a tribe of rainforest nomads in Borneo, as seen by Bruno Manser.

Blowpipes and Bulldozers

This is the moving story of the Penan, a unique tribe of rainforest nomads living in Sarawak, Borneo, part of Malaysia. After 40,000 years of living at one with the jungle, the tribe is being logged out of existence.

A Swiss man, Bruno Manser, spent five years living with the Penan people, completely adapting his lifestyle to theirs. He helped to organize their resistance and publicize their plight.

The film was made by a clandestine Australian crew in the hope of getting the story of the Penan and Bruno Manser (now wanted by the Malaysian Government) known to the outside world before it is too late. This is a film that will stir your heart.

'An informative and powerful investigation of the maltreatment of yet one more indigenous society at the hands of development and globalization. As an older film, there is the potential for Blowpipes and Bulldozers to be overlooked by teachers and scholars, but it stands as a timeless depiction of a moment in cultural time which will never be repeated and yet which is, ironically, repeated again and again. Instructors and students should make an effort to find it and view it--and then ask themselves what we have learned, if anything, in the ensuing 20 years and what, if anything, we are doing differently now.' Jack David Eller, Community College of Denver, Anthropology Review Database

'An exceptional account of what man can do to his environment and to his fellow man... excellent videography...a 'must see' for anthropology students... a worthy addition to a school library.' The Science Teacher

'A stinging indictment of the effect of technology and civilization upon primitive cultures.' VOYA

'Top notch in all production aspects...this program has several messages, all important. Highly recommended for high school and public libraries.' **** Video Rating Guide for Libraries

'Issues raised here have relevance well beyond Borneo, not only to other endangered rain forests and indigenous peoples but...to the wealthy nations that consume most raw materials such as tropical hardwoods.' Choice

'At the end the Penan are no longer strangers. We share their pain, their sadness and their anger over the theft of their history and their future.' Okomedia Festival Jury


Best Film on Environmental Impact, Medikinale International, Parma
Best Anthropological Film, Festival dei Popoli, Italy
Prize for Ecology and Development, Okomedia, Germany
Best Screenplay, International Ecological Film Festival, Yugoslavia


Main credits

Kendell, Jeni (film producer)
Kendell, Jeni (film director)
Tait, Paul (film producer)
Tait, Paul (film director)
Tait, Paul (cinematographer)

Other credits

Camera, Paul Tait; editor, Harriet Clutterbuck; music, Brendan Hanley.

Distributor credits

Gaia Films

Jeni Kendell and Paul Tait

Gaia Films
Jeni Kendell and Paul Tait

Docuseek2 subjects

Indigenous Studies
Forests and Rainforests
Habitat Destruction
Citizenship, Social Movements and Activism
Human Rights
Cultural Anthropology
Social Psychology
Environmental Anthropology
Asian Studies

Distributor subjects

Asian Studies
Developing World
Environmental Ethics
Forests and Rainforests
Human Rights
Indigenous Peoples
International Studies
Pacific Studies
Social Justice
Social Psychology


Penan, Borneo, Bruno Manser, Malaysia, rainforest; "Blowpipes and Bulldozers"; Bullfrog Films

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