They Live in Forests, They are Extremely Shy - A Short Film


They Live in Forests, They Are Extremely Shy tells the fictionalised story of an Indigenous Australian man invited to London for the Colonial Exhibition of 1886. He's a reluctant ambassador, negotiating for the safety of his people and ancestral land as the British Empire continues to colonise and brutalise indigenous Australians.


Producer: Maria Caruana Galizia

Director: Saeed Taji Farouky

Writer: Saeed Taji Farouky

DOP: Emma Dalesman

The guests see him as part-dignitary and part-novelty. He plays the "good native", until a chance encounter forces him to decide whether to live his life with diplomacy or authenticity. It is a short story dense with themes of oppression, dehumanisation, resistance, and the determination of indigenous people to fight for their literal and cultural survival.


This film is based on extensive research conducted into the history of "human zoos" and colonial exhibitions. Our film closely follows the protocols for working with Indigenous Australians as published by Screen Australia, and we've been developing the story with a cultural consultant as well as the film’s lead actor, Tom E. Lewis, who is himself a consultant and “Ceremony Man”. The title is taken from an advert for one of these "human zoos" at the St Louis World Fair in 1904.

The film attempts to understand not only how those who suffered under colonialism perceived these exhibitions, but also how the drivers of British colonialism could simultaneously romanticise, admire and brutalise the people they colonised.

They Live in Forests, They Are Extremely Shy, is a 3-minute film selected for broadcast on the Channel 4 strand Random Acts. The project is supported by a grant and development programme from The Artist’s Cut, in collaboration with Northern Film + Media, the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival and Active Northumberland. Additional finance was raised through a successful crowdfunding campaign.

Full cast and crew

David Tom E Lewis

Charles Tom Kitto

Man Djakapurra Munnyarryn

Extra Debbie De’Ath

Extra Phoebe De’Ath

Extra Ria Douglas

Extra Luke Gardener

Extra Katie Hunter

Extra Chris McVeigh

Extra Shannon Piercy

Extra Shannon Piercy

Extra Lilly Ross

Extra Katie Stubbs

Extra Dominic Taylor

Extra Noah Walton

Extra Julie West

Extra Peter West

Extra Manda White

Producer Maria Caruana Galizia

Director Saeed Taji Farouky

Writer Saeed Taji Farouky

Cinematographer Emma Dalesman

First Assistant Director Scott Young

Production Designer Lesley Ann Rose

Make up / Hair Artist Sherilyn Oliphant

Costume Designer Elizabeth Johnson

Sound Recordist Alex Wardle

Production Co-Ordinator Qasim Baig

Focus Puller Andrew Binns

Steadicam Operator Adam Opie

Gaffer Aidan Brooks

Spark John Crabtree

Continuity Rachel Fleming

Third Assistant Director Rachel Fleming

Technician David Parker

Set dresser Sarah Jane Johnson

Art department Assistant Beth O’Doherty

Camera Trainee Jack Abberthy

Camera Trainee Scott Henderson

Lighting Trainee Ioana Trikerioti Chatziioannou

Art Department Trainee Matthew Docherty

Art Department Trainee Julie Bemment

Runner Cathy McSorley

Runner Abby Colclough

Runner Adam Mann

Runner David Griffith

Runner Tilly Upton

Sound Mix Rich McCoull

Music Djakapurra Munyarryn

Still Photography Andy Berriman

Cultural Advisor Allyson Mills

Shot on location Mining Institute, Newcastle upon Tyne

Costumes hire Little Theatre, Gateshead

Special Thanks Daniel John Williams School of Acting

Special Thanks Fleur Parry

Special Thanks Jone Vaqua

Special Thanks Simon Brookes

Special Thanks Monster Peacock

Special Thanks Picture Canning North

Special Thanks Northern Prop Hire

Special Thanks Maureen Duffy

Special Thanks Kamahi Djordon King

Special Thanks John Sadler

Special Thanks John Lewis Partnership Newcastle

Special Thanks Callerton Garden Centre

Special Thanks Holmeside Farm

Special Thanks Our Kickstarter Backers

A Northern Film & Media and BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art Production for Channel 4. Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England