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Tribal Insights is a book and a ninety-minute feature doc from the two-time RSA winning, ‘Best Presenter’ Bruce Parry. The film will be almost entirely created from Bruce’s existing broadcast footage, carefully edited to re-present a brand new story.
Bruce has visited numerous remote and diverse indigenous communities all around the world. His BAFTA-winning BBC documentaries gave him a unique opportunity to experience first-hand the completely different ways that humans live in relation to their ever-changing environments. Through these unique experiences, Bruce’s insights are both revelatory and vital to the conversation about how best to deal with our current planetary crises.
Using clips from his TV series’s ‘Amazon with Bruce Parry’, which was about globalisation, and ‘Arctic with Bruce Parry’, which was about climate change, Bruce will share his understanding of what the real global environmental issues are and how our social, political and economic structures lie at the heart of the problem.
Bruce will then gently invite us to examine these issues through the lens of the tribal cultures he visited during his much acclaimed ‘Tribe’ series, showing how ingrained some of our human problems are and suggesting how they might have come about.
Bruce with the Nyangotom warriors of Ethiopia who are caught in endless battles for resources
Exploring his experiences of community-living, child-rearing, nature-connection, spirituality, economics, warfare, politics, health and healing, Bruce will show how his insights have helped him better understand his own life and society and how it is possible to make real and lasting change.
Following Bruce’s personal story we will then meet with the Penan People of Borneo who were the last group Bruce lived with during the making of the BBC’s ‘Tribe’ series. It was with the Penan that Bruce encountered something completely different - and his experiences with them completely revolutionised his understanding of human nature and what we are capable of as a species.
The second half of the film will see Bruce unpacking this radical new understanding which is a perspective on our much deeper collective past, one that is at the heart of the oldest and more contentious debates in history, that of who we are and how best we might coexist. It mixes sociology, anthropology, evolutionary biology and philosophy. Bruce’s insight is so radical that it has never been considered even possible by any of the philosophers in history, and yet he has encountered living examples of such ways of being, still flourishing deep in some ancient forests, reminding us that reconnecting with our oldest of ways is not only possible but, quite possibly, essential.
Finally heading off to the Congo with anthropologists from University College London, Jerome and Ingrid Lewis, Bruce meets the Mbendjele People and receives the final insights he needed. The Mbendjele invite Bruce to join in with a reenactment of a revolution that sits at the heart of how we became human, and how our ancestors, perhaps for the only time in history, successfully dissolved aggressive, competitive, male-dominated hierarchies and brought into being societies of equals. A story almost lost to the mists of time, which could hold the keys to our collective salvation.
Far from being a romantic tale of a time gone by, Bruce will share ways to decipher the codes of how the Penan and Mbendjele obtained, and continue to maintain, balance within their societies. It is a story of witnessing what a truly equal, non-expansive society looks like, and could look like for us all once again. One where women have a particularly important role to play, embodying their own quality of power, unfettered and free, different but equal.
The power of the Mbendjele women is the key to maintaining equality within their society.
This will be a personal story of Bruce’s experiences and how he thinks we might bring the wisdom and tools of other societies back into our lives today. He will carefully navigate complex and contentious subjects such as first-world privilege, gender and identity politics, cultural and individual trauma and mainstream narratives around meaning and happiness.
Bruce’s messages will be challenging but also positive and inclusive. Ultimately, by sharing these historical lessons and the tools to apply them today, ‘Tribal Insights’ will not only offer hope but a revolutionary roadmap to a more harmonious future for humanity.
An initial development grant of £10,000 (see link below) would be ideal to get the script started and for Bruce to edit some of his existing footage into an investor promo reel. Thereafter, production should take about a year: five months for the scriptwriting (two people), then an editor for the remaining nine months (three people). Editing hardware will be required to access the RED rushes from Tawai. Some limited generic footage might need to be filmed, but the majority of the doc will comprise Bruce’s existing broadcast footage, available from Getty Images or through ‘fair dealing’ copyright exemption.