Despite the technological boom that let us believe we can access any information with just a click, the world is still a fascinating place that hides in plain sight mesmerising communities facing the time and speed of our hypermodern era through a traditionalist and peaceful life philosophy, far from the dizzying vortex of capitalist societies. Perhaps this is, in fact, the most attractive dimension of this short documentary, ‘Silou: A Tale of an Orang Asli‘, which, capturing the existence of a community living in the Malaysian rainforest through the eyes of Silou (one of the young men of this small society), seems to revive the magic of tribal organizations populating a corner of a paradisiacal nature the modern viewer may think that only literature and history books can contain nowadays. Without praising or condemning a state of things, the project signed by Yazan Al Assadi regards with a tender objectivity this microcosm for which the city with all its cultural, political or technological avatars is non-existent, for which survival and harmony with nature surpass in importance the education or the luxury of big Western malls.
Astonishment, stupefaction or revolt are therefore the subjective choices of the viewer who, depending on their emotional structure, can see in this brief incursion into the hidden places of one of the oldest rainforests, at the same time, a nostalgic reliving of the Edenic age of humanity or a sociological anomaly that defies the vertiginous mechanism of a world for which technological progress has become a religion inseparable from the needs of the contemporary human. Silou therefore creates a gap in time and space, introducing us to the narrow circle of a society that eschews the natural flow of the globe, to present to us the daily rituals within his community: preparing the weapons and poisons in order to hunt a monkey or a mouse-deer, setting a fire in order to defend the huts from animal attacks, washing clothes in the river, and so on, but also creating and protecting your own family from the age of fourteen.
Lush vegetation, some innocent glances, the murmur of the forest and the uninterrupted sound of the river combine through Yazan Al Assadi’s camera a meditative and provocative journey for any viewer, regardless of their prejudices. ‘Silou: A Tale of an Orang Asli’ doesn’t tell us a story we don’t know; still, it tells us a story that maybe we didn’t think it really existed outside literature and movies, outside our cement jungles that failed to tame the whole fascinating world we live in.