Rufus Saati, The Spirits Have Gone


    Dvd  Rufus Saati kaft (1 van 1)        vlag nl       Engelse vlag     


Broadcasted by :            La Cinquieme                                   Bayerischer Rundfunk                                                NRK Norway Logo                   RFO
                                    La Cinquiéme, France     Bayerischer Rundfunk   NRK Norway     RFO  Dom Tom
Film festivals:        Ethnofilmfest Berlijn, 1998 Bilan du film Ethnografique, Parijs 1998                                                                                  Beeld voor Beeld, Amsterdam 1997 Ambiente/Incontri, Sacile Italie, 1996


“Every tree here in the jungle is related to our ancestors.                                    

When all of that disappeares, then the basis of life in Asmat has gone too. And then I won’t have a basis myself anymore…”  (Rufus Sisumur Saati)

TRAILER Rufus Saati. (2.30 minutes)

Watch the full movie (55 minutes)  Rufus Saati, The Spirits Have Gone”. 

Preface Wiek Lenssen:  ” In 1996 ‘Rufus Saati’ was one of my first documentaries, in a time  when television still had the 4:3 aspect ratio. At that time circumstances in Asmat and Irian Jaya/ West Papua only allowed for filming with super small (undercover) super-8 film camera’s, due to lack of electricity and – most important-   lack of any film permits. In 1996  this film put me on the map as a filmmaker. After its completion the movie was soon shown in many festivals and at major European tv-channels.

Despite it’s ‘antique look’ I trust it still transmits the good times I had with Rufus and his family in Papoea.

(film/video 54′ color/ b&w)

RUFUS is an Asmat Papuan

These are the words of a remarkable Papuan artist, who is living in the vast jungle of Papua (former Irian Jaya/ Dutch New Guinea). His daily struggle to maintain the nature and culture of the Asmat rainforest is depicted in this film.

RUFUS is an Asmat Papuan and a sculptural artist. Out of the trees in the jungle he shapes his statues of wood, following ancient Asmat traditions. But his works also contain important messages for the future: the importance of maintaining the delicate balance in nature, and of maintaining the meaningful values of the Asmat culture. As an artist, these are the ideas he wants to pass on to next generations.


RUFUS SISUMUR: following Rufus in his dugout, the spectator is lead into the beautiful interior of the rainforest. Deep inside the jungle Rufus and his family show what actually forms the basis of the Papuan life. The jungle, inhabited by spirits, is an endless land of wealth and richness. By hunting, fishing, food gathering and by winning sago out of the sago palm tree, the Papuans have survived, for thousand and thousands of years, in a complete sustainable manner and in complete harmony with their environment.

RUFUS SISUMUR SAATI: from an Asmat point of view , life is a circel, instead of a line. During the Feast of the Spirits the spirit of the deceased SAATI enters the body of Rufus Sisumur. Only a few decades ago Saati was one of the most notorious headhunters of the big Pomatsj river. Rufus’ tribe believes Saati has returned to Asmat, embodied by Rufus Sisumur. In the same way Saati once lead the people in their wars, Rufus is leading his people in the battle against the destruction of the rainforest: against the commercial lumbering in the area.

RUFUS SAATI: THE SPIRITS HAVE GONE: in this film we get to know Rufus as a self conscious, intelligent and wise man and as a Papuan artist. Nevertheless, it becomes apparant during the film that even for Rufus it is very difficult to keep his balance in the advancing new world of money and trade. Increasingly more trees are cut without paying any respect to the spirits, only to gain earthly goods like clothes, Supermi or batteries for the radio. More and more the artworks are made for trading purposes, instead of trying to achieve a spiritual contact with the world of the deceased. The spiritual art of Asmat is taking the same way as the spiritual trees, it becomes a commodity. Eventually Rufus also looses, in a confrontation with the impostorous art traders, the Makassarans from the isle of Sulawesi.

TV releases:

Rufus Saati’ was broadcasted in 1998 and 1999 at the French public tv-channel

La Cinquieme   La Cinquime

In Gemany the film was broadcasted for the ARD network by :

Bayerischer Rundfunk            Bayerischer Rundfunk

 In Norway  ‘Rufus Saati’ was broadcasted at prime time on the first national channel by:

NRK Norway Logo      Norway

Also the film was shown on tv in several countries like New Caledonia, Frans Guyana, Guadelupe, Martinique by the french broadcasting organisation




‘Rufus Saati’  was selected for the  competition of the following filmfestivals:

Ethnofilmfest Berlijn, 1998

Bilan du film Ethnografique, Parijs 1998

Beeld voor Beeld, Amsterdam 1997

Ambiente/Incontri, Sacile Italie, 1996

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