Thursday, August 27, 2015

It is not easy being green, and in Brazil is can be deadly.

It's not easy being green, and in Brazil it can be deadly.
Another week, another environmentalist is murdered. Why should you care? Well, for starters, someone was murdered. Murdered for standing up and protecting something that the entire world needs. Think about it for a second, one out of every four breaths you take comes from this ecosystem. Yes, the Amazon generates 25% (+/-) of the world's oxygen. It also contains half the world land-based biodiversity and plays an incredibly important role in regulating the Earth’s climate, as well as regional rain cycles. Parts of Sao Paulo are already suffering droughts and water shortages (and all indications are it will get worse) because of deforestation in the Amazon (and piss-poor state management, of course). But who knows which city or nation may feel the dramatic effects of a forest under siege, next.
As to the article's question about why so many environmentalists are killed in Brazil, well it is a violent nation (over 50,000 murders are year – that we know about), with incompetent and corrupt governance and questionable police services (16% of all homicides in Rio de Janeiro, for example, are carried out by police according to Amnesty International). The honest cops (and there are many) are under-funded, often poorly trained and usually barely equipped to deal with a region continental in size and with such a propensity for violence and mob rule. Since everything in Brazil is currently worsening (sadly), from the economy to crime to politics etc…I do not see it getting any easier for environmentalists or any better for the Amazon.
And that is not good news for anyone on the Earth.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sorry for the Inconvenience Premiers!

6 years of work, headaches and frustrations ended last night with a packed house, laughs, cheers, tears and a long impassioned standing ovation. I was left gob-smacked and literally teary-eyed! Sorry for the Inconvenience: The Dirty little War Over Chico’s Bar premiered last night at the 19th edition of FAM Panvision, a rather large South American (Mercosul) film festival conveniently held on this very island. And as they say, “It was a hit!”. I'm sooo relieved.

But as difficult as those 6 years were, they were important, and this film is very important for the community here and the island. For those wanting more info on the documentary There is an english link.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Sorry for the Inconvience: The Dirty Little War Over Chico's Bar

Well, the long awaited release of my newest documentary is this weekend. Its national premiere will be Saturday at the 19th edition of the Latin American film festival FAM, conveniently held in Florianopolis each year. Hundreds of films from several Mercosul (that’s a Latin American trading block) countries entered, and this little 80 minute ditty is now competing for with four others for best Documentary. I say it’s long awaited, because I couldn’t wait to finish and be rid of it. :-)

This documentary is a bit of a pyrrhic accomplishment. One made over the years without funding, with little to no help and over the last year, it left me drained, deceived and hugely disappointed which is ironic in that the original goal of the video was to be a source of inspiration, a point of hope in a land plagued by corruption, scandal and opportunists. Who knew there’d been an opportunist at my side.

So as happy as I am that it’s finally out of the studio and heading to a festival, I’m am even more elated that I’m rid of this headache and the lazy, barely-literate asshole that was attached.

My advice to budding documentary makers, (because I tend to get a bit of email asking advice) is choose people whom you have to work with really well, and CONTRACTS CONTRACTS CONTRACTS!

With that said, those interested in knowing  more about the film, check out the site and trailer.  Even given the headaches, lies, deceit that went on behind the scenes, I think I managed a rather beautiful film, with no budget that hopefully highlights a very big concern for not only the island, but many coastal areas throughout Brazil and around the world.

There is an English version of both.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Damocracy Wins another Award

Photo: Sara Creta 2014
Great news. The video Damocracy that was written, filmed, edited and directed by yours truly, and produced for a number of environmental groups, most notably Doga in Turkey, has just won another International video award; this time in Bilbao, Spain.

 I had the honour of being able to attend the 6th Cine Invisible International Film Festival and to personally present Damocracy which was selected to open the festival with over 400 in attendance. It was a wonderful festival, with a focus on highlighting stories that don’t often get told. Not only were theaters at night filled, but the festival also participated in schools and I had the wonderful experience of being able to talk about the issue of dams in the Amazon and in Turkey with not only people interested in films, but with students interested in social and environmental issues.

 That, in and of itself, was worthy of mentioning, however the video also won a prestigious award in the category of videos dealing with sustainability on the closing night. Congrats to all involved. Damocracy will now be participating in the 1st International Planeta Doc film festival in Florianopolis, Brazil. Damocracy has won two awards, and has been officially selected to participate in 8 festivals in 8 different countries.

 Check out the photos and video

Monday, December 23, 2013

Biggest & Baddest, second season in full swing.

The second rabies' shot is done, one more to go, visa is in the mail and in less than three weeks I'll be joining the brilliant "Biggest & Baddest" film crew in Uganda on yet another incredible adventure.

Biggest and Baddest is the brainchild of Peter Von Puttkammer. It's a great television series which airs on Animal Planet and Discovery. Now in its second season, it's an adventure, conservation, travel and wildlife show (not necessarily in that order). It tracks some of the biggest and most ferocious animals of the world, and while providing all the drama and information you'd expect from a great host driven wildlife show, it also discusses conservation issues and the problems that arise when the habitat of these creatures is reduced and they start to come into conflict with local communities. 

Peter is a brilliant director/producer (and cameraman) whom I've had the honour of knowing and working with since 2010 when we first worked together in the Amazon on his PBS Secrets of the Dead documentary about Col. Percy Fawcett (Lost in the Amazon). The host of the programme, Niall McCann, is a biologist, explorer and quite frankly one of the sharpest lads I've even met, he's also incredibly good in front of the camera and picked up "TV" faster than any other journalist or host I've worked with over my 30 years in this industry. 

The entire team is just a joy to work with, from the Venezuela Amazon (Anacondas), the outback of Australia (Crocodiles), the grasslands of Nepal (Tigers) and the Bayou of the USA (wild hogs), there's no other group I'd rather be with in tough, often dangerous situations producing stellar and important TV. Here's some behind the scenes pics over the last couple of years. 

Photos courtesy the Amazing Andy Dittrich; Niall McCann and Jon Ritchie. Scroll down to the bottom for the show's trailer.

Todd on Elephant back -
the only way you can track tigers safely.
(photo: Andy Dittrich 2011)

Todd Southgate with Peter Von Andy Dittrich 2012
Biggest and Baddest gang in Australia's Northern Territory.
hoto: Andy Dittrich 2012

Photo: Andy Dittrich 2012
Niall Catches another Python in the Venezuelan AmazonPhoto: Andy Dittrich 2011
Photo: Andy Dittrich 2011

Photo: Jon Ritchie 2011 (Nepal)

Photo: Niall Mccann (Venezuela)

Photo: Jon Ritchie 2011

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Damocracy doco wins award and goes on tour

The Damocracy film will be screened in January at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, in Nevada City, California - the largest film festival of it's kind (by and for environmental and justice activists) in the US. The film will also be included in the film festival's tour of the US, and will have in screen in 100 cities. Damocracy also recently won the "Environmental Anthropology" Award at the CINECO international film festival in Portugal.

Monday, December 02, 2013

30 Years supporting indigenous peoples in Brazil.

I sadly missed the event because of obligations which took me to Canada, but even from over 5000 miles away that didn't make the honour of being part of something uniquely special and important any less awesome.
This year the Norwegian Embassy's Programme for supporting indigenous peoples celebrates 30 years of work in Brazil. The milestone was marked on November 19th by a historical photo exhibit, live performances (including performances from Norway’s' own indigenous peoples, the Sami) and the presence of indigenous dignitaries like Raoni Metuktire and Davi Kopenawa Yanomami at Brazil’s National Museum in Brasilia. Many incredible NGOs, which receive financial support from Norway to help fight for the rights of indigenous peoples, were also present and their work celebrated on this night.
One other element to this evening’s programme was a short 30 minute documentary I had filmed, written and edited highlighting the Embassy’s work and the work of their partners over 30 years. Yes, call this shameless self-promotion, but it’s one of those extraordinary assignments where you’d be an absolute lummox not to flag-wave your own involvement. Not just because I feel the final product turned out well, but on a purely selfish personal level, I was given the opportunity to spend time with, and learn from, so many inspirational people doing stellar social and environmental work. The Embassy’s exhibit is traveling to various cities in Brazil, and I assume the video will follow. I hope to make it to one of the showings, although 2014 is building up to be one wild roller-coaster of a year. My sincere congratulations to Kristian Bengtson and PatrĂ­cia Benthien for the incredible work they do on behalf of the Norwegian Embassy; work which truly has, as I've personally seen, made a significant difference in the lives of indigenous peoples here in Brazil.