RECOFTC – The Center for People and Forests, together with US-based Venice Arts, released the first of a series of participant-produced films from community members in Myanmar, Cambodia and Thailand, in celebration of the International Day of Forests on March 21.
In the three short films, which were produced following training in participant-led media techniques and documentary filmmaking, community members share their own stories about their lives as they relate to the forests in which they live.
The films were shot in Inle, Myanmar; Pursat, Cambodia and Khao Rao Thian Thong, Thailand, with communities identifying their own stories to tell in a short (5–7 minute) format.
They show what happens when individual villagers courageously stand-up for their rights and their children’s futures, reversing years of environmental degradation to sustain their livelihoods and the environment.
“Many challenges in forest conservation have occurred because local people’s participation in management has been undermined,” said Tint Lwin Thaung, executive director, RECOFTC.
“Good governance of forest resources relies on involving local communities, as their livelihoods depend largely on forest resources. These videos show the stories of three local communities – their aspirations and how they can contribute to sustainable forest management.”
Venice Arts’ Executive Director, Lynn Warshafsky, said, “Participants deepened their ability to listen for, visualise, and uplift stories of transformation; to understand that even small stories, told well, can serve as witness, facilitator, and change agent.”
In Myanmar, when a mother of two loses her husband, she can no longer gather resources from the forest by herself and must ask her eldest daughter to leave school in order to help support the family. They value the importance of the forest in their lives, but seek more support in understanding how it can fit into a sustainable future for their family.
In Cambodia, two village leaders work to protect the forest together with their own and other communities in a regional community forest network. They bring us on a night patrol of the local forest and discuss what the forest means to them and why it’s important.
In Thailand, a female member of a bamboo shoot processing cooperative tells the story of the group’s work to improve the area’s degraded forest while promoting the sustainable use of forests. As a result of its efforts, forest resources in Khao Rao Thian Thong are being used sustainably and community members’ livelihoods have improved.
The short films show how local communities sustainably manage their forests through stories from the communities themselves, revealing how the forests in which they live are important to them.
The films will be used in communities to foster dialogue, as well as nationally and international among forest decision-makers to bring community voices to the fore, RECOFTC said.
The films are available in English and Thai/Khmer/Myanmar-language and can be viewed on: www.venicearts.org and www.recoftc.org.