Talk this week that the Copenhagen climate meetings next month might not be as hopeless as they seemed reminded me of a documentary I came across recently about rainforest clearing in Indonesia.
The movie has gotten some international acclaim; for one, it was featured at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival in New York this year. Directed by Australian film-maker Cathy Henkel, The Burning Season is a documentary (or eco-thriller, according to its official website), that draws attention to the destruction caused by man-made forest fires in Indonesia.
Every year, poor farmers in the region actually set the local rainforests on fire to clear land for palm oil plantations. Narrated by famous Aussie actor Hugh Jackson, The Burning Season follows three ‘plot-lines’ connected to the annual destruction, providing three unique perspectives on the issue. One is a local farmer who struggles with the yearly reality of deciding whether to support his family or save the planet. Another is a Danish expat in Indonesia, who sympathizes with the helpless, displaced orangutans. Finally, there is Dorjee Sun, an Australian businessman who sets out to do something about the environmental disaster, creating a money-making carbon-trading scheme along the way.
In Variety magazine’s review of the film, it seems that Sun is the most dynamic character in Burning Season; ‘an infectious and amiable protagonist.’ The overall assessment is good too. Variety favourably sums up the documentary, calling it a ‘Potpourri of material (that) is well shaped .as inspiring as “An Inconvenient Truth” was frightening.’