Indigenous Perspectives Conference, Bristol
This week I gave the opening address at the Indigenous Perspectives Conference in Bristol. This was a whole day of seminars and workshops on views and issues concerning remote and usually threatened people. There were speakers from West Papua (occupied by Indonesia), the Kiribati Islands (Micronesia) the Mapuche people of Chile and elsewhere; it was a wonderfully stimulating, informative and inspiring event, and I wish everyone could have been there! This short press release gives the general idea.
Press Cutting: THE EVENING POST : Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Indigenous Perspectives Conference opens in Bristol
Explorer Benedict Allen opened a conference in Bristol on indigenous people of the world.
The city's first Indigenous Perspectives Conference took place at the Pierian Centre in Portland Square, St Paul's.
It brought together representatives of indigenous cultures from around the globe, along with campaigners and academics.
Around 40 people turned up to the event, and took part in six different seminars on a range of subjects including eco-tourism and genocide.
The conference covered a range of cultures including the Jumma of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, the Mapuche of Chile and the Kawesqar peoples of Tierra del Fuego.
Mr Allen, who produced a number of books and television programmes on remote cultures, launched the one-day event yesterday.
The day coincided with Columbus Day, the anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the Americas, the second anniversary of the UN's Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the 40th year of Survival International, a human rights organisation campaigning for the rights of indigenous tribal peoples.
To keep abreast of UK episodes and broadcasting times (and hear the trailer with an English accent!) see The History Channel UK site: www.thehistorychannel.co.uk.
History Channel Expedition UK broadcast
The lavish eight-part History Channel series – in which I trek with three other adventurers across East Africa in order to investigate journalist H.M. Stanley's iconic journey to find lost explorer David Livingstone – is to be broadcast in the UK at 8pm on 18th June. It'll be broadcast around the world from around this date onwards (and is already being broadcast in the States).
History Channel Expedition Website
Follow the evolving website – including games, profiles of the four adventures, wildlife and survival facts and all sorts of other extras at: www.history.com/expedition
The huge new History Channel series is being premiered on cable on 31st May – trailers are presently being shown across the States in cinemas, and as I understand it, this is the biggest History Channel promotion yet.
As I've said elsewhere, I've always look for projects that are innovative, communicating the discovery of our world in fresh ways. This new TV idea is very much in that tradition. It's big, it's bold, and I hope will enthuse millions of viewers around the world about Africa, adventure and expeditions. The series has a distinctly epic feel – and, to a non-American audience at least, might at first seem like a movie straight from Hollywood. But actually at the heart of it were just four individuals (four adventurers, including me) simply dedicated to the task of getting into the head of HM Stanley as he made his epic journey across the continent to find Livingstone. We were filmed daily, going about the task of navigating, organising our supplies and porters, and hacking through terrain – four seasoned specialists on a testing march across desert, mountain and swamp. And around this very genuine expedition has been built an exciting show (I've seen only the first episode) which I think renders a glorious portrait of Africa as we got to know it.
Expedition – coming soon!!
Through my career, I've always tried to experiment with ways of conveying experience – starting with my first book, Mad White Giant, through to the (then) innovative idea of filming expeditions without a film-crew. This is what attracted me to Unbreakable, a TV series which pushed people further physically and mentally than we'd ever seen on television. Now comes an idea from the States called Expedition – to be launched in the early summer of this year. For the History Channel, and therefore not available for the time being outside cable TV, this sees four adventurers of various sorts investigating the journey HM Stanley undertook in search of Scottish explorer Livingstone. The adventurers were a war correspondent (like HM Stanley), Kevin Sites, primatologist Dr Mireya Mayor, adventurer Pasquale Scaturro (veteran of Everest, the Nile and all sorts of ventures elsewhere) and me – the only Brit. The four of us (the others were Americans) were followed day and night by elaborate camera crews, who recorded the ups and downs of our expedition as we passed through swamp, desert and mountain, doing our best to understand the experience of HM Stanley as he trekked 900 miles from the coast at Zanzibar to Lake Tanganyika. It's nothing like I've done before – indeed the opposite of my solo expeditions which I once filmed – but very testing in its own way. And that to me is the whole point. I have yet to see more than the first episode, but it's gloriously epic and the looks to be the biggest thing History Channel have done. More on this to follow...