NEWS - Who is responsible for the death of Cambodia's foremost forest activist? - article by Fran Lambrick in The Guardian
This film is dedicated to friend and activist Chut Wutty. We met Wutty while filming in November 2011. He was a fascinating character and an inspiring leader. Wutty was shot and killed on 26th April at a military check point near an illegal logging site that he was inspecting with two journalists. Our thoughts go out to his wife and children. Wutty was a dedicated environmental activist, and director of the Natural Resources Protection Group. He had been working to stop deforestation in Cambodia since the 1990s. We hope that in the battle to save Cambodia's forests, Wutty's life's work will be honored.
Rubbernaut is the story of two families living in Prey Lang forest, Cambodia. Rubber plantations are encroaching on the forest with the force of a juggernaut. Phalla is a young mother working strenuous hours in the plantations. Just a few kilometers away, Ty, a grandfather, follows a traditional, forest dependent way of life. Now the people of Prey Lang are challenging the conversion of forest to rubber – fighting for the right to determine their future.
About the project
The issues that this documentary covers are important in the long term, but now there is a pressing need for this story to be told. Just a few days ago, Chut Wutty was shot taking journalists to see a site of illegal logging. During the last year there has been a wave of peaceful protests and conflict over land rights across Cambodia, and especially in Prey Lang, drawing attention internationally: from Al Jazeera, Cultural Survival and Earth Action. This film aims to inform and stimulate audiences, leaving you thinking, questioning the justice of corporate deforestation in the name of development. We also aim to connect audiences in rural Cambodia, who often have little or no access to free media, so that stories of struggle for communal rights to land and forest resources can be shared. Footage was shot from November to December, 2011, in Prey Lang forest, Cambodia.
This documentary is the culmination of a long relationship with the issues and people in Prey Lang forest. The story evolved from ten months of scientific and social research with Cambodian colleagues and friends. Working and living there made us explore questions about our way of life, assumptions about development, power relations and perceptions of the environment. We want to share that with you.
Ty is a father and grandfather, who has lived in the forest since he was young. His family struggles to make a living, and to protect the forest resources they depend on.
20 kilometers away in a company-built village of yellow concrete houses, Phalla raises her children, balancing her family’s needs with the irregular and strenuous hours that she works in the rubber plantation. At night headlamps flash in the dark as the rubber workers quietly go about cutting the trees and collecting the cool latex.
The director of the company at the office overlooking the plantation explains how rubber is good for the area, providing jobs and development.
An elder from the village relates another side of the story: the land-grabbing that went before the plantation. He speaks out for the people who have lost their land and those who are afraid for the future: “We are in an ocean of rubber – there is no forest left.”
Meanwhile to the north hundreds of villagers from the four provinces surrounding Prey Lang walk for ten days through the forest in groups - patrolling. Their ally and advisor, Chut Wutty, demands that their traditional rights be recognized. The Prey Lang community joins forces at the CRCK rubber company concession: the latest enclosure, another free-for-all of illegal logging. And now it’s being challenged.
We are now moving into post-production and looking for funds to cover: translations, cost of lost or broken equipment, flights, travel cost for the directors to join forces in the UK, color grading, soundtrack and editing.
But don’t hold back if we reach our target! Any extra funds that you generously give will be spent on distribution, and if we raise enough to cover the whole film, we will make the rest a donation to the Prey Lang Network via Natural Resource Protection Group.
VANESSA DE SMET: Director, Photo and Video
ROB LEMKIN: Executive Producer (creative)
VICKY JEWSON: Executive Producer (development)
ROBERT RAPOPORT: Editor
TIM FREWER: Translations
NICHOLAS O'BRIEN: Music & Sound Design
BENJAMIN GIBERT: Music
ROWAN PERKINS: Soundtrack
ALLAN MICHAUD: Additional camera
CLAUDIA GRAY: Rubbernaut logo and poster
Find out more
Film website: www.rubbernaut.co.uk
Comemmorative article on Chut Wutty and video by Fran Lambrick and Robert Rapoport in the Guardian. BBC story on Chut Wutty's killing. Full story on the 26th April shooting from the Phnom Penh Post: Environmental activist Chut Wutty shot dead.
International Herald Tribune blog on Chut Wutty and Rubbernaut.
Director Fran Lambrick is currently doing a PhD at Oxford on Community Forestry in Cambodia, which has contributed greatly to the strong research basis of this film. She recently presented at the Planet Under Pressure international conference in London
Robert Rapoport, editor, has worked on many prouctions including the web's first commercially succesful sitcom, The Burg. He is a winner of Sundance film festival Grand Jury prize as part of the team who edited the documentary We Live in Public. Robert has also won several awards at the Oxford film festival.
This is the link to the Al Jazeera report on the protest that we followed, which includes footage of Wutty with protestors in Prey Lang.
This article 'Land and Conflict in Cambodia' is written by Tim Frewer, who was working on the film at the time of attending the Prey Lang protest.
- (30 days)