The Last Honey Hunter
In the mist-shrouded mountains of Nepal’s Hongu River valley, the Kulung people carve their lives out of the land and practice an ancient form of animism structured around the god Rongkemi. There you will find a wiry and unassuming man named Mauli Dhan Rai, who is believed to be chosen by the gods for the perilous rite of honey harvesting. The task, which involves climbing rope ladders up sheer cliffs to cut down combs made by the world’s largest honeybee (before collecting the poisonous honey within), is extraordinarily dangerous. But it’s a spiritual pursuit soaked in myth that the Kulung believe taps directly into the gods. And with roads, technology and market forces, it may not be around for long. This film, a 2016 Mountainfilm Commitment Grant winner directed by Ben Knight, puts a spotlight on a remarkable practice under threat of modernity.
2017 Presentation: Tim Laman and Cheryl Knott
Tim Laman and Cheryl Knott are not your typical married couple. Laman is a field biologist and wildlife photojournalist whose striking images of birds of paradise, spiked-nosed tree frogs, probiscus monkeys and other little-known species have graced the pages of National Geographic many times. His pioneering research in the rain forest canopy of Borneo led to a Ph.D. from Harvard University, and he has published more than a dozen scientific articles and photographed some of the most critically endangered species in the world. Knott, meanwhile, is a biological anthropologist and primatologist who earned a Ph.D. in anthropology from Harvard, where she went on to serve as associate professor of anthropology. Recently, with their two children in tow, the couple lived and worked in Borneo’s Gunung Palung National Park, where they studied, documented and revealed critical threats to the survival of the park’s orangutans.
In Person: Tim LamanCheryl Knott