If Not Us, Then Who?

The Question, is at the back of our minds,

as we waltz into an era of global struggle. As the music speeds up to a frantic pace, however, we continue to dance, ignoring the warning signs just to enjoy our evening of overindulgence on this planet, a little bit more.

 We know our overconsumption, thirst for fossil fuels, deforestation, and the toxic effects of our resource lust will be a real pain to clean up in the morning, but we hold out, collectively thinking, “someone really should do something about the state of our Earth.”

Sadly, not everyone has been invited to the party. Peoples all over the world who live closely to the land, who depend on a healthy environment for their livelihoods, and who suffer through the damaging consequences of natural exploitation have been fighting to survive through the night.

As the victims of environmental injustice often live in remote environments, filmmakers play a critical role in amplifying their voices. Paul Redman, of Handcrafted Films, has been traveling throughout Central America, Peru, Brazil, and Indonesia to unify defiance against ecological abuses as part of the “If Not Us, Then Who?” campaign. Redman and his team work with indigenous communities to listen to their stories, help them document their troubles, and use the rapidly-produced yet emotive, beautiful, and effective short films to build support towards a solution.

“The aim of the project is to promote indigenous people as the most viable solution to the long term protection of forests.” Redman writes FFC. “We are also developing various events in partnership with international and national NGOs and have so far launched in New York, Lima and Indonesia.”

One “If Not Us, Then Who?” story is about the murder of an indigenous Peruvian activist named Edwin Chota, who fought against illegal logging in his Asheninka community:



“I filmed the widows of the four murdered Ashanenka leaders at the end of last year and we promoted the film in partnership wth Global Witness & Rainforest Foundation US in Lima,” Redman writes.


After showing the photos and film at the Lima Itinerant Film Festival in November of 2014, and bringing in Ashanenka leaders, the Peruvian government finally listened.

“The villagers of Saweto have since been granted land title to over 80,000 hectares of their traditional forests, which is a real success story for everyone involved.” Redman writes. “But we are still working to ensure more land titles are granted to other Ashanenka communities and we are exploring ways to do that later this year.”

Since screening the film in Peru, Redman left the materials with local NGOs and he and his team moved on to Indonesia to fight monoculture eucalyptus plantations:

The campaign is fully funded by the Ford Foundation and the Climate & Land Use Alliance (CLUA), and is aiming to bring these voices to The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“We have further promotional events in Germany and Paris later this year to build awareness before the UNFCCC meeting in Paris,” Redman writes.

Now that the music sounds a bit slurred, and we realize that our waltz cannot last forever, what can we do? To help right these injustices,

  1. Don’t buy products that use tropical hardwoods, as many logging operations forge the documents to export their wood as though it came from legal concessions – with up to 80% of wood being fraudulently claimed as legal, according to Greenpeace Brazil
  2. Don’t buy products that use palm oil, as palm oil plantations contribute to the deforestation of Indonesia, Malaysia, and the forests of many other peoples
  3. Sign petitions to protect indigenous people and rainforests here, at Takepart.com http://www.takepart.com/feature/2015/02/06/sustainable-furniture-killing-indigenous-people


And thank Paul Redman and his team, for answering the question “If Not Us, Then Who?” with resounding action!



“Earth: A New Wild” blows away cuteness standards, presents uplifting and serious conversation

How many baby pandas does it take to make a conservation film a success?

Two? Four? Nine?

Hedging their bets, PBS, National Geographic and Passion Planet went with… 14!

In their upcoming series, Earth: A New Wild, viewers will get to ogle fourteen baby pandas, as Conservation International Executive Vice President Dr. M. Sanjayan guides them on a journey exploring the intrinsic nature of humanity’s role in nature. Filmmakers for Conservation was at a sneak peak of the upcoming series screened at National Geographic in Washington, D.C. – the five-part film promises to bring optimism to the conservation conversation to living rooms all over the country.

Dr. Sanjayan said he wanted to work on this series – and call it The New Wild – to remove the distinction between the natural and the human worlds. “We humans are part of nature,” he said, “and when you realize that, we realize saving nature is saving ourselves.” He said in certain areas it was impossible to film wildlife without getting humans in the frame, and he hopes by telling the story of how humans are part of nature – not separated from it – viewers will learn, “Just how much we need each other to survive.”

Filming over 5 years in 29 countries and 45 locations, the producers decided to separate the films based on habitats, with episodes covering “Home,” “Plains,” “Forests,” “Oceans,” and “Fresh Water.” The first episode explores “Home,” establishing the series arc that humans share our home with nature – and it goes big, with Dr. Sanjayan’s visit to the breeding center of the Bifengxia Panda Base in Wolong, China. Researchers there have determined when females are most fertile as part of their efforts to re-wild the iconic species, and after resisting the concentrated power of such adorable panda delight, witnessing the baker’s dozen of black and white babies roll around on the floor, Dr. Sanjayan dons a panda suit himself, as he witnesses the first-ever release of a captive-bred panda into the wild.

Breeders take care of giant panda cubs inside a crib at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu, Sichuan province, September 23, 2013. Fourteen new joiners to the 128-giant-panda-family at the base were shown to the public on Monday, according to local media. REUTERS/China Daily

Breeders take care of giant panda cubs inside a crib at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu, Sichuan province, September 23, 2013. Fourteen new joiners to the 128-giant-panda-family at the base were shown to the public on Monday, according to local media. REUTERS/China Daily

Along with Zhang Xiang’s historic amble, Dr. Sanjayan visits Dr. Jane Goodall in Tanzania, where new chimpanzees have entered the Gombe National Park, thanks to community initiatives to connect fragmented habitat by subsidizing border trees. But now the villagers report chimps have taken infants from their homes, highlighting the difficulty of life in the shared wild.

The “Plains” episode introduces the theories of Rhodesian-born biologist Allan Savory, about the need to restore to the plains the millions of herd animals who once kept them healthy. Dr. Sanjayan visits the Russian steppes, where the proboscises of saiga antelope once roamed with more snouts than the wildebeest of the African savannahs. With their floppy schnozzes warming the frigid air, the saiga roam, eating and dispersing 100 plant species. After the fall of the Soviet Union, poachers ravaged the herds from numbering two million down to 20,000, hunting their horns for traditional Chinese medicine. A boom in irrigated agriculture has also led to their home pastures in Kalmykia to become the first manmade desert in Europe, as 80% of the arid region has lost plant coverage. Dr. Sanjayan tries to show that hope abounds, meeting researchers who are tracking the saiga’s numbers, and finding ways to protect them from poachers.

The “Plains” episode also offers the most bizarre human-wildlife interaction, as Dr. Sanjayan travels to northern Scandinavia, where the Sami people were possibly the first to domesticate herd animals. Those who still live the traditional, semi-nomadic lifestyle, follow their herds of reindeer throughout the winter. The males can get very aggressive in the rutting season, however, and after the autumn battle for females they are so exhausted that nine in ten will perish in the following winter. Well… ancestral knowledge was quick to incorporate anatomy into the equation, and Dr. Sanjayan’s Sami hosts invite him to participate in the traditional cure:

The Sami call their modified male reindeer the “Gentlemen of the Tundra,” as they spend the winter helping the females dig through the snow for those last remaining morsels to munch…

Dr. Sanjayan kept the “Forests” episode under wraps, but FFC did catch glimpses of the final “Oceans,” and “Fresh Water” films, in which Dr. Sanjayan goes fishing in the mangrove nurseries of Florida for pregnant and newborn lemon sharks, and then kayaks the Colorado River to its end with photographer Peter McBride, where the mighty river painfully dies in the dusts of Mexico’s Sonora Desert. Although Mexico receives less and less of the Colorado’s life-force, not far from the dried-up wetlands it once watered Dr. Sanjayan and McBride fly over the Cienaga wetlands, where 40,000 acres of new life has sprung from farm water run-off somewhere upstream. Dr. Sanjayan points out nature’s resiliency: as one door closes, another opens.

Earth: A New Wild will air on PBS starting on Wednesday, February 4, at 9/8c PM. Now that you’re warned of the carnage of cuteness of 14 baby pandas, enjoy the programming, and let us know what you think!

The Drill Project


The Drill Project features the first-ever broadcast images of wile Bioko Island drills; large, silver baboon-like monkeys with obsidian black faces, and dominant males with bright blue rears and red genitals. An educational film, The Drill Project illustrates the beautiful relationships formed in the biodiversity of Bioko Island’s tropical forests, and explains how the drills are an important part of their ecosystem. Viewers learn, however, that not all is well in these forests, as traditional bush-meat hunting practices have given way to commercial poaching with shotguns and snare traps. The Drill Project gives a voice to the drills and the six other species of monkeys on the island by exhibiting these lesser-known primates’ struggle with human misunderstanding and advocating the abolishment of primate hunting on the island.

The film includes interviews with local community members and biologists discussing the importance of wildlife protection to serve future generations and its economic value to the country of Equatorial Guinea. The film is in Spanish, the national language of Equatorial Guinea, and narrated by Demetrio Bocuma Meñe an Equatoguinean who studies environmental science and policy in the United States. Our message is a positive one and it is meant to give the local public of Equatorial Guinea a national pride in their wildlife.

Positive results

The Drill Project is currently broadcasting on the National and International television channels in Equatorial Guinea and premiered both in Equatorial Guinea (December 15, 2012) at the Guinean Cultural Center in Malabo and in the USA (April 15, 2013) at Drexel University in Philadelphia. In March of 2013 we organized film screenings in three villages near the protected areas where the last drills remain, and we left a group of biology students from the local Universidad Nacional de Guinea Equatorial in charge of continuing to organize showings of the film. The Drill Project has aired in schools, village centers, and living rooms to ignite conversation about the bushmeat trade. The head of the biology of UNGE is a friend of President Teodoro Obiang and claims that the president has seen and approves of the film.


Watch the Film: http://www.thedrillproject.org/the-film/
Director, Producer, and First Camera: Justin Jay: justindavidjay@gmail.com, (843) 991-3442, thedrillproject.org
Producer: Shaya Hornavar: sh333@drexel.edu, (215) 667-4515,
Editor: Megan Pollin
Narrator: Demetrio Bocuma Meñe

By Jason Peters

Our Blue – The Tank Bangers


How on earth did a bunch of diving instructors decide that enough is enough and we want our say? Well… It started in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. Sitting on the edge of the stunning Red Sea. Home to one of the natural wonders of the world. Home of the Ras Mohammed National Park. The people involved so far are from all walks of life. Previously lorry drivers, IT engineers, bankers, soldiers, nurses etc etc, all enjoying their new lives as diving instructors and guides.

And then something happened. In December 2010 a series of shark attacks changed the world. For us and for them. There are many reasons why these attacks happened. We promise you this much – it is not because sharks are evil. Drop that thought RIGHT NOW. But the world’s media went shark hunting mad. And the tourism industry in Egypt took a massive hit. And in all honesty – this really upset us. But it did mean that due to a lack of work – we had a huge amount of time on our hands. Along with a large number of tanks. Ripe for banging.
Then on one quiet sunny afternoon a few staff did a fun dive and decided to make an underwater music video. A spoof. Nothing more. Something fun to pass the time. They filmed a crazy comedy version of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”. And people that had never dived before – that had never snorkelled before – really liked it.. Yet while we laughed at our own antics we realised something.. “Why don’t we write our own song. A song about the blue. And why we love her. A song that shows the world how it could be. A song that shows the world what we have done. And a song that shows the world we must change our ways. So we did.

It is our message to the world. It is your song. It is our song. Because it is our blue. And all we want you to do is sing. Because everyone deep down loves to. It is so much fun. And singing when we know it’s for a reason greater than ourselves – is even better. So WE are going to sing. For you. For us. For our world. And it’s about time.

The first music video filmed entirely underwater. Performed in English – the film has also been subtitled in 20 languages in order to reach a greater number of people. Only 5 minutes long – it took approximately 600 dives, 1000 takes and 10 months to make.7 minutes long. It has taken hundred of dives and thousands of takes. It has cost us a small fortune and most of our sanity. But it is done. We hope you enjoy it. We hope you get behind us. There is much yet to do. Please share it and please buy it. Sing it far and wide. This is our chance to sing for our oceans. It is time to go BOOM.

Positive results:

The proceeds from the sale of the song will be given to the organisations shown @ 5:40.


We are the fastest growing, most enthusiastic and darn right dangerous group of oceanic conservationists currently not in an asylum.

Our vision is crystal clear – we want to “Promote, Inspire and Educate” a better knowledge and understanding of the intricate and delicate machine that is our oceans by utilising music, comedy and social media to encourage more cooperation and unity between divers, ocean lovers and other marine focused conservation groups to really get the increasingly desperate cry of our oceans heard.

Our first major project “Our Blue” is a song and a video designed to portray the beauty and fragility of the ocean and convey how we are mistreating and neglecting her. Available for purchase on line from various outlets, with the song “Our Blue”, it is our intention to raise money to donate to selected marine conservation groups and organisations that will, we hope, enable them to continue the great work they are doing for our oceans.

Beyond “Our Blue” we have a myriad of ideas and projects in mind that are also designed to raise awareness and funds to support many more marine conservation organisations and initiatives both locally and globally including our own.

Our strength and effectiveness comes from our individual members who are continually proving that by combining our shared passion there is no measure to what can be accomplished for our oceans, their life and ultimately our own future.


Nick Stec: nick.stec@thetankbangers.org
Nick is an underwater cinematographer based in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.
Website: http://www.thetankbangers.org/
View on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5HXyOgz2YA
Join in on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/TheTankBangers/
Follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/the_tankbangers
Help support the Tank Bangers and visit their shop!

By Jason Peters

Vanishing Giants


The Asian elephant, constantly under threat from the poachers and a fast shrinking habitat faces a more serious threat today-one that comes from its custodians.

The brutal capture, torture and subsequent death of a young tusker in a capture operation authorised by the government prompted Mike Pandey to stop filming his documentary on ‘Elephants in Crisis’ and turn it into a news feature.

The footage exposed the cruel and archaic methods of capture being used with no concern for the animal, a protected and endangered species.

The news feature was a protest and demanded the immediate cessation of capture of elephants in this brutal way and a call for policy changes if elephants are to be protected.
Positive results:

Within 3 days of the release of this news feature the Government of India suspended all capture of wild elephants. Individuals in charge of the botched capture operation were suspended.

The news created international outrage – International news agencies picked it and activists from all over the world joined in triggering a global signature campaign by IFAW. www.ifaw.org/ifaw_international/index.php
In India changes in policies and rules were made at a national level ensuring that all future captures take place with modern facilities and in the presence of experts to avoid trauma and cruelty after capture. Elephant welfare became top priority.

Other Achievements:

Winner of the Panda News Award at Wildscreen 2004


Exec’ Producer/Cameraman/Narrator: Mike Pandey
Directed by: Ritambra Rana
Address: C-18, Chirag Enclave, New Delhi – 110048, India
Phone: +91 11 26410684/26216508 Fax: +91 11 26216508
Websites: www.mikepandey.org & www.riverbankstudios.com/doc_vanishing_giants.htm
Email: wildlife@vsnl.com or info@riverbankstudios.com
Earth Matters Foundation: www.earthmattersfoundation.org

By Jason Peters

On Coal River


Coal River Valley, West Virginia is a community surrounded by lush mountains and a looming toxic threat. ON COAL RIVER follows a former miner and his neighbors in a David-and-Goliath struggle for the future of their valley, their children, and life as they know it.

Ed Wiley once worked at the same coal waste facility that now threatens his
granddaughter’s elementary school. When his local government refuses to act, Ed embarks on a quest to have the school relocated to safer ground. With insider knowledge and a sharp sense of right and wrong, Ed confronts his local school board, the state government, and a notorious coal company – Massey Energy – for putting his granddaughter and his community at risk.

Along the way, Ed is supported by his neighbors Bo and Judy, who are locked in their own battle with Massey Energy over their practice of “mountaintop removal” – blowing up mountains to extract coal. Together, Bo and Judy help Ed bring attention to the dangers at Marsh Fork Elementary, hoping that if they save the school, they can save the valley.

Positive results:

ON COAL RIVER is proud to have contributed to greater public awareness and policy maker scrutiny on the issues of mountaintop removal and coal slurry injection. The film screened in the US Capitol June 24 2010, sponsored by two members of Congress. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) personnel with authority over mountaintop removal were in the audience and said afterwards they were quite impacted by the film. One mining regulator commented that the film “hit him in the gut.”

ON COAL RIVER elicited public statements about mountaintop removal from celebrities Josh Lucas, Gloria Reuben, Woody Harrelson, and Hugh Jackman. Gloria Reuben personally gave her copy of ON COAL RIVER to Lisa Jackson, head of the US EPA. Shortly after our AFI/Discovery Channel – SILVERDOCS premiere, we helped facilitate an ongoing collaboration between Coal River Valley schools and the prestigious Sidwell School of Washington, DC, where President Obama’s daughters attend school.

In addition to the film, many non-profit organizations and individual activists have done a tremendous amount of work on the issue in the last few years. Although mountaintop removal has not yet been outlawed, the EPA is regulating the practice more closely, and a West Virginia state ban on the practice of underground slurry injection will soon be up for a vote.


Directors: Adams Wood and Francine Cavanaugh, Downriver Media
775 Haywood Road, Suite F, Asheville, NC 28806 USA
P: 1 (828) 230-7315,
E: info@oncoalriver.com

By Jason Peters

Ancient Forests: Rage Over Trees

Ancient Forest: Rage Over Trees

Ancient Forest: Rage Over Trees


In 1989, Chris Palmer and Jim Lipscombe made Ancient Forests: Rage Over Trees for the National Audubon Society and Turner Broadcasting. It was hosted by actor Paul Newman and highlighted a protracted battle over logging on publicly owned forests in the United States. At issue were 3 million acres of ancient, or old-growth, forests in the Northwest that were being clear-cut at the rate of 60,000 acres a year-and the fate of the 30,000 workers who made their living by cutting them.

When advance word got out about the film’s content, it led to a logging-industry boycott of the corporate sponsors, all of whom pulled their support for the film in the face of big-industry intimidation. But Ted Turner broadcast the film anyway. To him, and to those like Palmer and Lipscombe who had created the film, conservation was more important than making money. Articles about the controversy appeared in major newspapers all across the country.

Positive results:

The film played a pivotal role in convincing the U.S. Forest Service not to log a beautiful Oregon watershed called Opal Creek, full of centuries-old fir, hemlock, and cedar. Audubon and Turner lost a lot of money, but saved a forest. Thanks to the film, Opal Creek was eventually designated as a wilderness area and thus firmly protected from logging.

Other Achievements:

In 1993, author David Seideman wrote a lengthy book of investigative journalism called Showdown at Opal Creek in which he spent several years interviewing all the key people involved in the controversy. Seideman’s book made the case convincingly that it was the documentary Ancient Forests: Rage Over Trees which was seminal in leading to the federal legislation protecting Opal Creek. It wouldn’t have happened without the film.


Host: Paul Newman
Producer: James Lipscomb
Producer: John Lipscomb
Executive Producer: Chris Palmer

Email: palmer@american.edu Web: http://www.american.edu/soc/cef/
National Audubon Society: http://www.audubon.org/
Turner Broadcasting System: http://turner.com/
Ted Turner: http://www.tedturner.com/home.asp

Online references: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1815587/

By Jason Peters