I ABOUT I The documentary film project Rubbernaut emerged from three years of research on forestry in Cambodia. Filmmakers Fran Lambrick and Vanessa de Smet interviewed the prominent activist, Chut Wutty, in Cambodia in 2011, four months before his death. The story of Chut Wutty’s murder on 26th April 2012, has provoked an international outcry, and has heightened awareness of deforestation in Cambodia. Last month Chut Wutty’s case was dropped by the court – and the man whom it is claimed shot the killer – was given just two weeks in jail.
Rubbernaut (working title) began as a film project charting local stories of dispossession and deforestation in Prey Lang forest, Cambodia. These issues quickly came to a head with a community forest network protest at a site where a rubber company is illegally cutting down resin trees that local people depend on. At that protest, we met Chut Wutty, and filmed an attack against him when he was wrestled to the ground by military police. Following the incident we conducted two long interviews asking him about his work to protect Cambodia’s natural heritage. In April this year, Chut Wutty was shot and killed at a logging site in the Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia, where he was investigating illegal activities with two journalists.
The international outcry at his death prompted the Cambodian Government to issue a suspension on all new land concessions. However, just weeks later, six new concessions were given - two of which are in protected areas. Now is the time to leverage international public and donor pressure to support the forest communities standing up for their rights, and fighting to keep their home, the deep forest of Prey Lang.
Worldwide, those who struggle to protect the still-wild global commons meet violence. Chut Wutty is one of over 700 forest and land rights defenders killed world wide over the last decade: a rate of one per week . Over the last decade the rate of killings has doubled. We aim to tell the story of Wutty’s work protecting Cambodia’s forests and to garner support for the activists who still pursue justice – protecting the forest they depend on.
I AIMS I This documentary covers issues that will be important in the long term, and that are now at a crucial point. There is a crisis right across Cambodia, as communities lose forest and farmland. Protests are reported on Al Jazeera, international radio and the press. This film aims to inform and stimulate, to leave you thinking and questioning ideals of development. It also aims to connect audiences in rural Cambodia, who often have little or no access to free media, so that the story of the Prey Lang Network's struggle for communal rights to land and forest resources can be shared.
I APPROACH I The experience of making this film has been an adventure, the culmination of a long relationship with the issues and people in Prey Lang forest. We had known many of the interviewees for two years before filming started. The story evolved from ten months of scientific and social research with Cambodian colleagues and friends.
During filming we were always aware of cultural differences and the impact that our presence had both positive and negative. We discussed with the interviewees the use of the footage and the risks that they were taking in speaking out. The use of the footage and distribution of the finished film is also affected by discussions with interviewees who wanted to know how their words would have an impact, and how we could contribute to supporting the efforts of local Cambodian people.