Bejalai (1987)

Run Time - 95 min.  |   Countries - Malaysia   |  
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The Federation of Malaysia has thirteen states; among them many different languages are spoken. This film is the first to be made in the Iban language in Sarawak, and it features good English subtitles. The story concerns the conflict between the ancient and traditional life and the destruction of that life by deforestation and the flooding caused by massive hydroelectric projects. Most of the story is told through the eyes of Rentap, a young man who finds the only work available to him as part of the crew that is cutting down the forests of his home. As the land is transformed, natives are shown attempting to adjust: in one sad scene, a displaced girl wanders up the road towards the city -- and the probability of a hard life as a prostitute.