Our Land is the Sea is a short documentary about three generations of a Bajau family in Wakatobi National Park, Indonesia, and how they're navigating drastic cultural and environmental change.
Biodiversity + Cultural Diversity are inexorably linked
As plant and animal diversity rapidly disappear, human cultures—and the long-cultivated knowledge they contain—are disappearing too. Our Land is the Sea explores how these parallel trends are related through the diverse perspectives of members of a Bajau family grappling with coral reef extinction, economic change, ethnic discrimination, and changing practices of Islam.
Who are the Bajau people?
The Bajau are a seafaring ethnic group whose traditional territory corresponds to the Coral Triangle, a 6 million square km area that contains more diverse coral life than any other region on earth. There are Bajau communities in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea. Historically, Bajau groups of Southeast Sulawesi, where Our Land is the Sea was filmed, lived the majority of their lives in boats on their ocean territory and in the mangroves where ocean and land overlap.
About the production
Our Land is the Sea grew out of a seven-year ongoing collaboration between Bajau community members Andar and Saipa—who are featured in the film—socially engaged scholar Kelli Swazey, and filmmaker Matt Colaciello. The footage in the documentary was filmed during four multiple-week trips to Wakatobi by the filmmakers in 2018 and 2016. The film was edited in Jogjakarta.
Kelli Swazey speaks about the film at TEDx Ubud
The Bajau community featured in Our Land is the Sea demonstrates how we can't protect biodiversity without protecting cultural diversity. As Dr. Kelli Swazey explains in this talk, the Bajau are grappling with the impacts of coral reef extinction, environmental degradation, and discrimination.