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A Year in Retrospect


I thought I would give you a summary of our year at David Metcalf Photography, some of the highlights and plans moving forward into 2020.



I attended the first International indigenous film festival in Odisha, India.

This event was organised by Surya Shanker and brought together film makers from India, and Indonesia. We heard many stories regarding the struggles that the indigenous tribes face in this area of India and the courage and determination to preserve their lands.

I took the first cultural tour to West Kalimantan of the year, which included a few days in Sungai Utik, a traditional village in the Kapuas Hulu region surrounded by original forest and pristine rivers. The group then attended the annual Naik Dango Rice Harvest Festival where we witnessed four days of Dayak music, dance and celebrations.

A very busy time with the Green School, Ubud, Bali who hosted their annual Sustainable Solutions event, where we arranged for invitations of prominent indigenous people, who for the first time ever, led this event. A very proud moment. 

A few days later we held the second Indigenous Film Festival in Bali. 35 Film makers came together over three days from nine different countries for some powerful discussions and film screenings.

This event was organised in collaboration with the Ranu Welum youth act team from Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan.

In late May Stephanie and I went searching for stories to the Maluku Islands, travelling for 2 weeks to the Banda Islands which seemed  like a trip back in time. We explored the beautiful Kei Islands and visited some remote indigenous communities on the island of Seram.

The Indigenous Film Festival moved to Kuching, Malaysia Borneo, bringing together many indigenous film makers from Indonesia and Asia.

In July, the Spirit of the Hornbill Dance Academy performed at the Rainforest World Music Festival.  This is the first time a dance/music group from Kalimantan has ever performed at this large annual event.

I arranged for a group from Nagaland, NE India to attend also, bringing together Dayak Iban and Naga for the first time.

On the way back to Bali we spent a few days at Mount Bromo in East Java to photograph and witness the Kasada Ceremony, a time for the Tengger tribes of the area to workship their Gods and pay respect to the surrounding volcanoes.

At the end of August, I  took a group of nine people to West Kalimantan and Tahak village to film, photograph, plant trees and hang out with the Sakolah Adat kids (traditional forest school). This was a profoundly moving experience for all the participants, as we emerged ourselves into the world of the Traditional Dayak Simpang tribe.

Three more Sakolah Adat customary schools were started in the area, and it is so wonderful to see the Dayak children supported this way.

The destructive fires and toxic haze engulfed Palangkaraya again, so we helped raise money to support fire fighters and Ranu Welum team in their attempts to support some of the vulnerable villages and victims of the fires

I took my first photography tour to Japan for 2 weeks and did a research trip to the island of Hokkaido making connections with the indigenous Ainu people. I plan to offer this tour option next year. Japan is a photographers dream, such a beautiful country and so much variety.

Then in December the Spirit of the Hornbills performed in Australia for the first time at the Woodford Folk Festival, bringing Dayak culture to this huge event (130,000 attendees) and an opportunity to discuss the issues in Kalimantan and what we are doing to try and help the situation.

A busy year with a lot of giving back.

We managed to raise around USD$45,000 to support Ranu Welum, Indigenous film makers (including training and equipment), Spirit of the Hornbills Dance Academy, Sekolah Adat and English teaching , and dance programs in Bali.

This was achieved from a combination of sponsorships, fundraising events, monthly indigenous film nights ticket sales, performances fees and contribution from photo and cultural tours.

All of this money goes direct to the communities in which we work, there are no admin fees.

2020 looks very exciting with photography and cultural tours to Japan, Tanzania, Alaska, Kalimantan, Bali and Lakota tribal lands of USA.

Plans for 2020 and taking Indigenous cultural connections further, include taking a Dayak group to Panama to attend The Panama Tribal Gathering with 40 ethnic groups  in  February 2020 and the Indigenous Film Festival in Bali is scheduled later in the year (date to be announced), plus the Spirit of the Hornbill Dance group will tour overseas again, possibly to the United States or India . In April, I will be attending an Indigenous Tourism Conference in Perth and in June, if anyone is keen, please note the Aboriginal Barunga Festival in Northern Territory, Australia is being held.

In Bali, with my photography team, we continue to offer daily photography tours and workshops, and private Bali tours which are proving very popular, plus Ubud Village Plate which is a genuine cultural culinary cooking experience in the traditional Balinese villages.

Fundraising Goal:  Our goal this year is to raise US$100,000  to build  the Tahak Sakolah Adat High School. Please contact me if you wish to help with resources, donations, support, or if you can offer your English teaching skills. We are a small committed team and welcome  your input.    

We look forward to you joining  one of our unique adventures, tours or festivals in 2020.    

Kind regards,
David Metcalf



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