YIDFF 2003 International Competition
Basal Banar—Sacred Ritual of Truth
An Interview with Auraeus Solito

The Work Itself Is a Sacred Ritual of Truth

Q: You studied theater and made animation and music videos, but what path led you to documentary film?

AS: At first I went to the island as a scriptwriter because I was interested in the words to a spell passed down in the tribe where my mother was born. I wanted to use this in my own script. And there I became aware of the issues that the island people have to deal with. I could not just be an artist who made works and watched my people suffer. Originally I contacted the press, and I wanted all of the Philippines to know. TV crews came and investigated the issue.

Q: You were raised in the capital city of Manila, but did you have an awareness of being a member of the tribe, since this is where your mother is from?

AS: Before I used to be a punk, hip (laughs). My mother hid her roots from me, she was ashamed of her tribe. And I found out as a I grew up. When I went to Palawan, I met the elder and the tribe, and she said the ibun, the child, has come back to the tribe. I touched the earth. She composed a song and cried as she sang it for me. It was very overwhelming.

Q: It looks like you did the filming without using artificial light.

AS: I just pointed the camera, and used the natural light. It is all natural light, fire and the sun. The title, Banar, means “truth,” and wanted to show the purest truth. The whole film is patterned after the Basal ritual, which is the most sacred ritual. The film itself is a sacred ritual of truth. We attempted to take the Basal ritual and communicate to the world. Through the ritual, the film is asking for the land to be given back to the people.

Q: What was the experience of filming for a seven-year period?

AS: In making this film, I experienced the seven plates in the Palawan universe. And I felt like there are many levels, that I am complete but I can be many things at once.

Q: What are the recent conditions for yourself and the tribe?

AS: Our part is done, since the film is finished, but there is taskforce formed from different NGOs, lawyers, scientists, community organizers, politicians. So everyone is doing their duty on their issue. Yamagata is a way to show this issue to the world because there are many people gathered here, so we want to convey the truth.

* Film crew member Regiben Romana also participated in the interview, but the interview content is presented as the directors’s own words.

(Compiled by Inotani Yoshika)

Interviewers: Inotani Yoshika, Wagatsuma Chizuko / Interpreter: Saito Shinko
Photography: Sato Akari / Video: Matsunaga Yoshiyuki / 2003-10-12