Stones Have Laws
Director: Tolin Alexander, Lonnie van Brummelen,
Siebren de Haan in collaboration with the Saamaka and Okanisi Maroon communities of the Suriname River
Suriname, Netherlands, 2018
Stones Have Laws (Dee Sitonu a Weti) is an immersive initiation into the life of a Maroon community in the former Dutch colony of Suriname. Combining stories of African ancestral traditions and escaped slavery with re-enacted rituals, the film explores how the community’s powerful ties to the land have become endangered as industries threaten to devastate the region through deforestation and mining. Dutch artists Lonnie van Brummelen, Siebren de Haan and Surinamese theatre maker Tolin Erwin Alexander ¬ himself Maroon – codirected the film. They closely involved the community in the development of the project, which was written using an experimental process of collective scripting. The result is a unique cinematic form that bridges filmmaking, poetry, and theatre.
Lonnie van Brummelen and Siebren de Haan have a background in visual arts. In recent years they applied themselves to long-term collaborations with communities, inviting these communities to experiment with collective script writing and re-enactment. From 2011 to 2014 they created Episode of the Sea with the Dutch fishing community of the former island Urk. From 2015 to 2019 they collaborated with a Surinamese Maroon community living in Suriname’s rainforest on the film Stones Have Laws. In 2021 Hatje Cantz published their book Drifting Studio Practice about their collaborative filmmaking method. Tolin Alexander is a theatre maker of Okanisi Maroon descent who specializes in community theatre. In his work, he mixes Maroon traditions with contemporary theatre techniques to address social issues. He was involved as a researcher and codirector in the film project Stones Have Laws.
Camera: Van Brummelen & De Haan
Editor: Van Brummelen & De Haan
Music: Saamaka Maroon Community
Producer: VRIZA, seriousFilm, Ideal Film