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!

 

 

Borneo’s Pygmy Elephants

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXtVSSStymo

Description:

Borneo’s pygmy forest elephants were once believed to be a feral population derived from domesticated imported Asian elephants, but DNA testing has confirmed they are a unique subspecies, who’ve lived on Borneo for at least 300,000 years.

This film tells the story of forest guide, Bert Dausip, observing and befriending the
elephants. His daily deep-jungle expeditions reward him with some of the most intimate and close up encounters with forest elephants ever filmed. Bert discovers one year old Fig and his elephant family living in the forests alongside the Kinabatangan River, in northeastern Sabah.

In befriending these elephants Bert has discovered that Pygmy elephants are far gentler than anyone could have ever imagined. They aren’t the aggressive killers that people think they are. Even females with newborns accept his presence.

Bert is probably the only person in the world who can track down and observe forest elephants in their wild forest home on a daily basis. This in itself is a spectacular accomplishment, but little did Bert know that once he collected the DNA samples for science his familiarity with the pygmy elephants would become crucial to an action plan to save these remarkable animals and their habitat.

Positive results:

Borneo’s pygmy forest elephants were once believed to be a feral population derived from domesticated imported Asian elephants, but DNA testing has confirmed they are a unique subspecies, who’ve lived on Borneo for at least 300,000 years.

This film tells the story of forest guide, Bert Dausip, observing and befriending the
elephants. His daily deep-jungle expeditions reward him with some of the most intimate and close up encounters with forest elephants ever filmed. Bert discovers one year old Fig and his elephant family living in the forests alongside the Kinabatangan River, in northeastern Sabah.

In befriending these elephants Bert has discovered that Pygmy elephants are far gentler than anyone could have ever imagined. They aren’t the aggressive killers that people think they are. Even females with newborns accept his presence.

Bert is probably the only person in the world who can track down and observe forest elephants in their wild forest home on a daily basis. This in itself is a spectacular accomplishment, but little did Bert know that once he collected the DNA samples for science his familiarity with the pygmy elephants would become crucial to an action plan to save these remarkable animals and their habitat.

Contact/Links:

Director: Joe Kennedy
Producer: Michael Patrick Wong
Executive Producer: Ellen Windemuth
Production Company: Michael Patrick Wong & Off the Fence

Buy the DVD: http://www.amazon.com/Borneos-Pygmy-Elephants-seen-Discover/dp/B0027VD3OU

By Jason Peters