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Post-production   /  Karl Malakunas

Paradise

Three environmental crusaders confront murder and betrayal as they battle to save an island paradise in the Philippines

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Impact areas

ENVIRONMENT

HUMAN RIGHTS & SOCIAL JUSTICE

Crew

  • DIRECTOR Karl Malakunas

  • PRODUCER Michael Collins and Marty Syjuco

Synopsis

DURATION: 88 MINUTES

Palawan appears to be an idyllic tropical island. Its powder-white beaches and lush forests have made it one of Asia’s hottest new tourist destinations. But for a tiny network of environmental crusaders and vigilantes trying to protect its spectacular natural resources, it is more akin to a battlefield.

PARADISE follows Bobby, Tata and Nieves, three magnetic leaders of this network, as they confront the biggest challenges of their lives trying to stop ruthless politicians and businessmen from plundering the Philippines’ “last ecological frontier”. It is a timely film emblematic of the struggles globally as land defenders are being killed in record numbers trying to save natural resources from the rapaciousness of corporations and governments.

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Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

“It has never been a deadlier time to defend one’s community, way of life or environment... the Philippines is the most dangerous country in Asia to be a land defender.”
These are chilling findings by Global Witness, one of the world’s leading human rights and environment campaigners.
The battles being led by Bobby, Tata and Nieves in PARADISE are the same as those being fought by local communities in Brazil, Cambodia and elsewhere around the world where corporations and governments are seeking to plunder increasingly valuable natural resources.
They are being killed for trying to stop mining, agribusiness and logging. Many of the deaths occur in remote villages or rainforests. The victims are often from indigenous communities. The killers are rarely caught. All these factors are in play in Palawan.
PARADISE has added urgency because it is documenting a fresh angle on the deepening human rights crisis in the Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte.

Impact

What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

Audiences will walk away from PARADISE feeling enraged, empowered and inspired to join movements to fight climate change, take on rapacious corporations that are destroying environments, to do something to help save our planet. We have a plan in place to harness that energy and channel it into meaningful action. The film is also aimed at the disempowered in communities all across the globe who are facing the same challenges as the characters in our film.

Outcomes

What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

To help empower indigenous and other local communities in Palawan and across the Philippines in their battles to protect their land from corrupt politicians and business people.
To prove to people in the Philippines and around the world that president Rodrigo Duterte's brutal and deadly "war on drugs" is chiefly a means for him and his allies to control the levers of power and the economy. This will help influence the next elections in the Philippines, both at a national level and in Palawan.
To help build a sense of community around the world among the marginalised and disempowered communities battling to save their lands from the rapacious elite. To show them they are not alone. And by illustrating the heroism of the land defenders in Palawan, celebrate and inspire all the land defenders around the world.

Stakeholders

How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

We have established a strong relationship and partnership with Global Witness, one of the world's most influential environmental and human rights campaigning groups. We have worked closely with Global Witness to gain knowledge about the threats against land defenders in the Philippines and around the world. Global Witness released a major report on land defenders in the Philippines last year, which included an investigation into some of the events in Palawan that PARADISE is documenting.
We have also established good personal relations with Greenpeace through its Southeast Asian head, Filipino Yeb Sano. We have similarly strong personal relations with most of the other powerful environmental campaigners in the Philippines, many of whom have helped to guide and influence our project.
Ted Richane, Director of Engagement and Impact at Vulcan Productions, is advising us on how to build the most powerful impact campaign.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

For tourists to base decisions on where they go for holidays with a new understanding of the natural resources being plundered for resorts, and to base decisions on where to go and stay with this new knowledge.
To help be part of a campaign to stop the destruction of Palawan's natural resources.
To donate money to help the land defenders of Palawan featured in our film.
For Filipinos to vote in the next elections with a far greater knowledge of corruption by powerful politicians in Palawan, as well as on the national level.
For viewers around the world to support land defenders in their communities who are fighting similar battles to the ones being waged by our main characters in Palawan.
To provide inspiration and offer support to those other land defenders across the Philippines and other parts of the world, knowing their comrades in Palawan are being honoured and celebrated as heroes.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

For Filipinos to vote against the corrupt politicians featured in our film, in Palawan and on the national level. And for voters to support candidates with string environmental advocacy platforms. This will occur in the 2022 national elections.
For the illegal destruction of Palawan's forests, fisheries and mountains to be curtailed.
For the key themes and messages of our film generate intense discussion and media coverage around the world, and thus playing a role in the building global people power movement to save our planet.

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