Film Screening: Ghosts of our forest

Tuesday 9 April 2019, 5.30pm - 7.00pm

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Old Geology Theatre, Science Road, University of Sydney


Join the Sydney Environment Institute for a screening of the film Ghosts of our forest, followed by a conversation with Lisa Trogisch (Producer), Laura McLauchlan and Iain McCalman.

The Batwa in Central Africa are the first inhabitants to Africa’s Great Lakes region. In 1992, when Bwindi and Mgahinga forest in Uganda became converted into National Parks to protect the critically endangered mountain gorillas, the Batwa, who lived in harmony with the forest over centuries, were forcefully removed from the ancestral homes by the government. Left with very little compensation or support for resettlement, the Batwa found themselves in dire poverty and facing the same threat of extinction as their highly protected neighbour, the mountain gorilla. Today, they remain marginalised, with a lack of an alternative livelihood options and many have no choice but to resort to begging, bonded labour, or work as tourist guides along the “Batwa Trail” putting on show-and-tell performances of their former way of life.

The Ghosts of our forest follows two storylines: the stories of Batwa who lived in the Ugandan forest before they became National Parks, and the story of 24-year-old Gad Semajeri and the band Batwa Music Club, aiming to uplift their people and conserve their culture by singing and dancing the spiritual and traditional music of the Batwa.

Told through lush images with beautiful musical numbers, “Ghosts of our Forest” is a sensitive portrayal of a people whose physical connection to nature has been forcefully severed but remains alive through song and story.” (Aisha Jamal, Hot Docs 2017)


Lisa Trogisch is a PhD candidate at the Political Ecology department of Wageningen University, the Netherlands. Her project seeks to analyse the contested concept of ‘Peace Parks’ in the Virungas examining the relationship between gorilla tourism, security and violence.

Laura McLauchlan is a multispecies ethnographer whose research interests lie at the intersection of material feminism, multispecies studies and environmental activism. Her current research centres on the interplay between human self-concepts and worldviews with how we relate to and care for the living world. Her anthropological work focuses on emergent and marginal ontologies and practices which might allow for greater environmental flourishing.  Laura currently teaches Environmental Justice at the University of New South Wales and Eco-criticism at New York University Sydney.

Iain McCalman is an Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Sydney, and former Co-Director of the Sydney Environment Institute. He is an internationally renowned historian of science, culture and the environment, whose work has influenced university scholars and students, government policy makers and publics around the world.

Film Credits

Director: Daniel Roher (Loud Roar Productions)
Credits: Zoe Gordon (Sound), Richard Jay (Music), Marianna Margaret (Cinematographer), Edmund Stenson (Editor), Lisa Trogisch (Producer)
Released: Hot Docs Film Festival, Toronto, 2017