They Live in Forests, They Are Extremely Shy tells the fictionalised story of an Indigenous Australian man invited to London for the Colonial Exhibition of 1886. He's a reluctant ambassador, negotiating for the safety of his people and ancestral land as the British Empire continues to colonise and brutalise indigenous Australians.
The film was broadcast on Channel 4 in December 2016. It went on to screen at film festivals and won Best Actor (Tom E Lewis) and Best Director (Saeed Taji Farouky) at the Canberra Short Film Festival. At the Royal Television Society North East and Boarder Awards the film won the award for Best Drama (Short Form).
You can watch the film here:
The film tells the fictionalised story of an Indigenous Australian man invited to London for the Colonial Exhibition of 1886. He’s a reluctant ambassador, negotiating for the safety of his people and ancestral land as the British Empire continues to colonise and brutalise indigenous Australians.
The guests see him as part-dignitary and part-novelty. He plays the “good native”, until a chance encounter forces him to decide whether to live his life with diplomacy or authenticity. It is a short story dense with themes of oppression, dehumanisation, resistance, and the determination of indigenous people to fight for their literal and cultural survival.
This film is based on extensive research conducted into the history of “human zoos” and colonial exhibitions. Our film closely follows the protocols for working with Indigenous Australians as published by Screen Australia, and we’ve been developing the story with a cultural consultant as well as the film’s lead actor, Tom E. Lewis, who is himself a consultant and “Ceremony Man”. The title is taken from an advert for one of these “human zoos” at the St Louis World Fair in 1904.
The film attempts to understand not only how those who suffered under colonialism perceived these exhibitions, but also how the drivers of British colonialism could simultaneously romanticise, admire and brutalise the people they colonised.
The project was supported by a grant and development programme from The Artist’s Cut, in collaboration with Northern Film + Media, the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival and Active Northumberland. Additional finance was raised through a successful crowdfunding campaign.
Watch the Behind the Scenes video here
For a full list of cast and crew, click here: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6184924/