Disenchanted Forest (educational)

    • Directed by: Sarita Siegel
    • Produced by: Taggart Siegel

    Released: 2002
    Running Time: 40 min

    We call them o-rang-u-tans, which literally means "forest persons" in the Malay and Indonesian languages. They are the only great apes native to Asia. Of all the apes, they are the closest to man in genetic makeup. And they face extinction. Two years in the making, THE DISENCHANTED FOREST is an intimate portrayal of the world of orangutans, the threats to their survival and the people committed to help them thrive. The film focuses on a recent discovery that orangutans do not rely on animal instinct for survival, but instead have a culture that they have preserved from generation to generation.


    • Finalist Marion Zentz Best Newcomer Award - Jackson Hole Film Festival 2001
    • International Wildlife Film Festival Finalist Award
    • Commendation, The Genesis Awards, 2002
    • Merit Award for Educational Value & Merit Award for Production Value, International Wildlife Film Festival, Missoula Montana, 2002.
    • 2nd Place EarthVision 2001 Environmental Film & Video competition.
    • Merit Award Columbus, Ohio, Los Angeles.
    • Best Cinematography, Festival du Cinéma de Bruxelles 2004.
    • Finalist, Missoula Montana Wildlife Film Festival & Angelciti Int'l Film Festival.
    • 2nd Best Primate Film (professional category) International Primatological Society, August 2008.
    • Screened at Max Planck Institute as part of "Thinking With Animals" conference, Berlin 2001, American Natural History Museum of New York, Smithsonian Institute
    • Image EcoVision Festival, Palermo, 2006.
    • Tales of Planet Earth, Madison, Wisconsin 2007


    "This is a stunning video with beautiful photography and a haunting presentation...It is suitable for all academic libraries, school libraries, environmental studies programs, classroom instruction, animal rights groups, and for anyone interested in saving species and the environment. Highly Recommended."
    – Gloria Maxwell, Educational Media Reviews Online

    "Enchanting as well as startling...Dr. Carel van Schaik, primatologist and anthropologist at Duke University...tells us that understanding the conditions that favored the evolution of culture is probably one of the most important questions in human evolution. Orangutans are disappearing fast and there is still an enormous amount to learn from them. This film is recommended to all those interested in orangutans and efforts being undertaken to save them. Its unique footage will fascinate all those interested in orangutan behavior. With superb photography and fascinating narration it is sure to become a classic."
    – Cheryl D. Knott, orangutan expert, and Asst. Professor of Anthropology, Harvard University

    "There was much to make the viewer smile, but sadly there was more to make one cry in this captivating documentary about an Orangutan facility in Borneo, run by the extraordinary Dr. Willie Smits. As Orangutan populations are wiped out in this region by logging and the illegal pet trade, this one-of-a-kind sanctuary is not just saving their lives, it is also painstakingly rehabilitating them for a return to the wild. Largely orphaned at an early age, these remarkable animals must be taught social and survival skills to make it on their own. After watching this documentary, one is left with little doubt that these non-human animals share 97% of our DNA, but more importantly, that they must be saved."
    – National Geographic Genesis awards 2004

    "Sarita Siegel's powerful film The Disenchanted Forest documents attempts to return young orangutans to their original rainforest habitats in Indonesia. It is poignant without sentimentality, unblinking about the destruction of the rainforests and their inhabitants but hopeful about the small successes of the orangutan rehabilitation centers. Working closely with the staff of the centers, she shows how fluid the boundary between wild and domestic, human and animal can be in the case of orphaned orangutans, who must be reacculturated to rainforest life. Her film underscores the urgency of conservation efforts, while at the same time making us think hard about the meanings and values of culture and nature."
    Lorraine Daston, Director of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science and Honorary Professor at the Humboldt- Universitat, Berlin.