dossier Living with Land Otherwise Series

Recap of online conversation 'Stones Have Laws'

11 January 2021

trailer Stones Have Laws
“WewenttoSuriname,withthequestion:Howcanwemakeafilmwhichisnotcontinuingthiscolonialexploitationofstealingstories,ofstealingimages?Howcanwestartworkinginadifferentway?Andhowcanwemakesomethingtogether?”Lonnie van Brummelen
Last year, ArtEZ studium generale showed Stones Have Laws (Dee Sitonu A Weti) as a part of their research program LAND: on climate, ownership and coexistence. The film tells a precious story about the ties between a Maroon community and the land with which they live in the former Dutch colony of Suriname. Scripted through a relation of trust with people of the community, the film weaves African ancestral traditions, stories of escaped slavery, contemporary rituals, and their ongoing struggle for attaining land rights in the face of industries that threaten to devastate the region through logging and mining. A claim for rightful relations between land and people, the film depicts how laws of nature prescribe a duty to care for and respect the land; to ask for permission before cutting down a tree or moving a stone, and to form a social contract that ensure that current uses of nature do not endanger its future sustenance for generations to come.
“Wewanttocollaborate,butwewanttocollaborateinawaythatbenefitsus.Thewaythatbenefitsusistotellourstorytotheworldsothattheworldknowsaboutus.Oneofthestoriesisaboutthelandrights.Ifyoudonotknowyourposition,andpeopledonotknowyourhistories,itisakindofweakness.”Tolin Erwin Alexander
In the following excerpts from the video registration, filmmakers Lonnie van Brummelen, Siebren de Haan and Tolin Erwin Alexander discuss with moderator Kevin Headley how crucial it was for the film to support the land right struggle of the Maroon community. Until their land rights are recognised, the Maroon community continues to live with uncertainty, as the government displaces the Maroon communities for the extraction of natural resources such as petroleum, gold and bauxite. The film makers also spoke about how they developed a trustful relationship with the communities involved, which ensured that this film was told in rightful ways.
THE VOICE OF NATURE: In this clip, the filmmakers speak on working with the format of the cinema, and how they centred the sounds of nature in the editing of the film.
“Whatwediscoveredwhenweweremakingthisfilm,isthatWecouldn’tseparatehumanvoicefromthesoundsoftherainforest.Inthecentrespeakerweputthevoiceoftherainforest.”Lonnie van Brummelen
HOW DID THIS START? In this clip Lonnie and Siebren describe how their immediate surrounding led them to investigate the questions they had about Suriname and the colonial history of the Netherlands.
LAWS OF NATURE: The filmmakers Lonnie and Tolin speak about the laws of nature, and how they determine day-to-day customs, and about how they influenced the making of the film.
“Thefilmgivesacertainpeakintohow[peopleoftheMarooncommunity]liveandcommunicateamongst[oneanother],butalsowithmothernature.Ithinkthatisoneofthemostimportantfactorsofourtimes—howyoucommunicatewithyoursurroundingsandtherespectyouhave.”Kevin Headley
HESITANT TO WORK WITH PEOPLE FROM THE OUTSID: Tolin, Lonnie and Siebren speak on overcoming distrust in the collaboration.
BUILDING TRUST: Tolin speaks on how the Maroon people came to trust Lonnie and Siebren.
“SiebrenandLonniecameattherightperiodbecauserightnowistheperiodinwhichweasMaroonsarelookingforopportunitiesforhowtopreserveourstories.”Tolin Erwin Alexander
LAND RIGHTS: Kevin and Tolin speak on the current struggle for land rights by the Maroons in Surinam.
The making of the film Stones Have Laws. Photo by Lonnie van Brummelen.
The making of the film Stones Have Laws: at the creek Kayapati. Photo by Lonnie van Brummelen.