Bruce Parry (born 17 March 1969, in Hythe, Hampshire, England) is an award-winning documentary maker, author, indigenous rights advocate, explorer, trek leader and former Royal Marines commando officer.
His documentary series for the BBC entitled Tribe, Amazon, and Arctic have shown extreme environments, remote indigenous peoples, and important issues being faced.
Parry was born into a devoutly Christian and military family from Dorset with his father being a Major in the Royal Artillery. He attended the Wells Cathedral School as a boarder between 1978 and 1987 and was Head of House, a Combined Cadet Force cadet, and a member of the First Rugby XV.
But his experiences amongst the people he has filmed helped him to reassess his beliefs and readjust his whole life:
When I came back from expeditions, I had some experiences that made me readdress all that. I'd pretty much known all along that Christianity wasn't for me. Ever since then, I've been on my own quest to find another truth. I can't read novels, but I do read books about cosmology, about astrophysics, about genetics. I'm interested in altered states of mind, and creation myths. It's all part of the same thing - I want to know why we think what we think.
One of Parry’s most profound experiences was a rebirth experience on Ibogaine. We have included an observation showing the extract where he was given the plant by the Bwiti people he was filming, as well as a fascinating documentary on how it has fundamentally changed his views. And one of the most interesting changes is that it has cured an addiction to sex, or more correctly 'lust!'.
This may sound an unhelpful cure, but Parry before the experience viewed women as objects, playthings, not as people. They were a source of pleasure. After the Ibogaine experience he has for the first time come to realise what love is all about and how profound love alters the whole dynamics of sex and what it can really achieve spiritually.
After finishing at Wells Cathedral School Parry entered the Royal Marines and successfully completed training at the Royal Marines Commando Training Centre. He was then selected by the Admiralty Interview Board and commissioned as a Second Lieutenant at the age of 18.
He served as a Troop Commander in Comachio Group and Commando Logistics Regiment and was deployed to Norway. Parry was deployed to Iraq and he served in a security and humanitarian capacity in Iraqi Kurdistan for Operation Provide Comfort during and after the First Gulf War. He then specialised as Physical Training Instructor. At 23 years old, he became the youngest officer ever to be made Head of Fitness and Training for the Royal Marines Commando Training Centre. Bruce Parry left the service as a Lieutenant after six years.
After retiring from the Royal Marines, Parry began working as a trek leader for various scientific and conservation expeditions throughout Indonesia. He also worked as an expedition leader for Trekforce. He personally organized and led more than 15 major expeditions to extreme parts of the world.
He then worked in the British film and music industry. He worked as a runner and then location manager for music videos, television commercials and feature films. Parry eventually founded his own company entitled Endeavour Productions.
The TV series
Parry first appeared on television in 2002 in an episode of BBC1's Extreme Lives series, but in 2004, Parry started filming the prime time BBC2 documentary series Tribe in which he lived with various tribal groups exactly as they do in order to better understand their culture. The first series of Tribe saw Parry living with indigenous peoples in Gabon, India, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Mongolia and Venezuela. The second series of Tribe was filmed wholly in Ethiopia as a journey between three different tribal groups. The third series was filmed in Brazil, Polynesia, Siberia, Bhutan, Tanzania and Malaysia.
And it was whilst he was in Gabon that Parry became involved in Bwiti. Bwiti is a spiritual discipline of the forest-dwelling Babongo and Mitsogo peoples of Gabon and by the Fang people of Gabon and Cameroon. Bwiti practitioners use the root bark of the Tabernanthe iboga plant, specially cultivated for the religion, to promote radical spiritual growth, to stabilize community and family structure, to meet religious requirements, and to resolve pathological problems. The root bark has been consumed for hundreds of years in a Bwiti rite of passage ceremony, as well as in initiation rites and acts of healing. The experience yields complex visions and insights anticipated to be valuable to the initiate and the chapel.
The experience that Parry had appears to have profoundly changed his life. He is still an adventurer, still an avid explorer, but his perspectives have changed fundamentally.
In 2008, for example, Parry journeyed for seven and a half months through Peru and Brazil for his series entitled Amazon where he looked at such issues as cocaine, oil, logging, slavery, dams, soya, cattle ranching and epidemics. He became a very active supporter of the indigenous rights organisation Survival International and put together a double album of twenty exclusive new songs from KT Tunstall, Johnny Borrell, A-ha, The Black Eyed Peas, Hot Chip and more. The album is called Bruce Parry presents: Amazon/Tribe - Songs for Survival. The first track on the album 'Ferreting' by 'Apparatjik' is used as the theme music for Amazon. All profits go to Survival International.
In a video for Survival about the recording of the album, Songs for Survival, Parry speaks on the importance of raising awareness for indigenous rights. He believes that if people understood the negative impact that our culture of greed and consumerism has on the 'wonderful people' at the other end, they would act differently.
In 2007 a spokesperson for Survival International praised the positive effects of Parry and this documentaries, noting that the "programmes bring tribal peoples vividly to life. Bruce Parry's interest in them and his respect for their ways of life come across very strongly. We believe that public awareness and the force of public opinion is absolutely crucial in ensuring that tribal peoples' rights are respected."
Parry recently described himself as a “born-again Rational Animist delighting in the mysteries of being”.
His films include:
- Extreme Lives (2002)
- Serious Jungle (2002)
- Extreme Lives (2003)
- Serious Desert (2003)
- Tribe (Three series - 2005, 2006, 2007)
- Blizzard-Race to the Pole (2006)
- Amazon (2008)
- Arctic (2011)
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