In the Western society we are so used to our modern life with access to electricity and spending money that living in the jungle without any of those luxuries sounds like a fairytale. This is how Norwegian director Audun Amundsen describes his impression of the life of Aman Paksa, a shaman on the Indonesian Mentawai Islands whom he met while backpacking in 2004. After four years Amundsen decides to go back to make a film about Aman Paksa and his ancient culture but realizes that modern life is catching up even in the jungle.
Aman Paksa and his clan have started to use plastic tools and trade goods for money to save up for a motor, which will make boating more beneficial. For them it feels like progress towards a better and more convenient life but Amundsen sees his fairytale go up in smoke and is left with documenting the consequences of the modern society that he tried to escape.
Newtopia is made over the course of 15 years and is a more disturbing film than the stories about indigenous cultures that we are used to. Amundsen’s commitment to the film is very extensive and his bond with Aman Paksa sincere. Their friendship makes this film both funny and honest. This devoted documentary shows trust in human connections and makes it possible to experience the paradigm shift to modernity that we might have long taken for granted.