JUNE ’16 | VOL. 1, #1
CANADA | Bérangère Parizeau
Dragon Tears: a documentary film on the political ecology of planetary survival Directed by Bérangère Maïa Nathasha Parizeau
Sending a prayer for the souls of those who have paid with their life for humanity’s violent confusion.
“Documentary should act on our hearts, not on our minds alone.”
– Michael Rabiger, Directing The Documentary
I am a French Canadian scholar, environmental and peace activist, interdisciplinary artist, published author, poet, filmmaker, and the director/producer of Dragon Tears. Dragon Tears is a research-based documentary film on the topic of China’s Environmental Law—and Policy—in the context of Climate Change. In 2006, I graduated with a Masters in Fine Arts, major in Film, video and Performance Art from California Collage of the Arts in San Francisco. After my graduation, I moved to China and studies Chinese for a few years. I have been learning Chinese and researching the water pollution crisis in China since 2007 for the purpose of directing this film. I am now an advance Mandarin language student. The complexity of China’s political economy inspired me to go back to school, and I am currently finishing a Masters in Asian Pacific Policy Studies graduate at the University of British Columbia (UBC), in Vancouver, Canada. I was appointed as a research assistant for my thesis supervisor Dr. Pitman B. Potter, Peter A. Allard School of Law, in China since August 2015 and for a full semester. My research consisted of gathering material on the topics of human rights, environmental policy and law, which includes interviews with officials and policy experts for the Asia Pacific Dispute Resolution (APDR), Major Collaborative Research Initiatives (MCRI) program at the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).
Independent thinking, creativity and communication are the most powerful tools for growing consciousness about the most pressing issues of our times. Amy Goodman, executive director and broadcast journalist for Democracy Now in her address to the Creative Time Summit at the Venice Biennale in Italy expressed the importance of independent media: “I believe that media can be the greatest force for peace on Earth. Instead, it is all too often wilded as a medium of war. And that’s what we have to challenge.”
This 58 minute feature experimental documentary film communicates creatively to a wide audience in Mandarin and English—with subtitles—critical information on China’s pollution crisis in the context of the global human ecological crisis. The premise of this research-based experimental documentary film is that China’s pollution crisis is a global systemic crisis. Based on interviews with leading experts, this film investigates the complex relationship between China and the rest of the world, freshwater security, global sustainable economic development, natural resource management, and climate change adaptation measures. This film investigates the nexus of China’s ecological catastrophe, neoliberal economic trends, the possibility of climate collapse (IPCC Report, 2014).
Through the experimental medium of still photography weaved with guerilla-style hand held camera, I propose to narrate the tragic beauty of humanity as a whole. By documenting in-situ scholars’ approaches to the topics of China’s environmental policy—and law—in the context of the socialist democratic authoritarian polity, the complexity of China’s judicial system, transnational trade, and intergovernmental approaches to climate change and natural resource extraction, this film aims to participate in the shaping of public debate on ecological justice and planetary environmental sustainability policy. I propose to analyze China’s most recent developments in environmental law, develop a better contextual understanding of China’s position in relationship to the world’s environmental crisis, their intricate interrelationship, to unravel humanity’s most pressing challenges and opportunities, and finally offer policy recommendations to prevent ecological collapse. The possibility of human extinction by the end of this century is imminent if the neoliberal trends of fossil fuel extraction and consumption are unabated.
In 2013, I had the unique opportunity to interview world renown scholar, linguist and political dissident Noam Chomsky. Tree Spirit is an animated experimental documentary film on the topics of the global environmental crisis and the possibility of human extinction.
I travelled to Paris for COP 21 and interviewed world acclaimed scholar, author, feminist and eco -activist Vandana Shiva, on the topics of biodiversity, globalization, and water security. I have a confirmed interview with Ma Jun in Beijing this year. Ma Jun is the director of the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE), one of China’s most dynamic NGO’s. Ma Jun developed China’s Water Pollution Map database in collaboration with Chinese governmental agencies in 2006. He was nominated as one of the 100 people who shape our world by Time Magazine in 2006. I am in the process of contacting other experts in the field both in China and internationally for other potential interviews.
The National Film Board of Canada has shown interest in co-producing Dragon Tears, and have been told to contact them once I have graduated. Beijing Continental Bridge Corporation, the largest production and documentary film distribution in China, has also shown interest in the project as co-producers and distributors in Asia. I am in contact with BC Council for the Arts and will be applying for editing support in the Spring.
As a creative spirit and privileged educated Canadian woman, I experience the visceral responsibility to fight against ecological destruction and engage in work that promote a more peaceful world. I take advantage of the opportunities available to me as means to participate in the deconstruction of structural violence. My next endeavour involves traveling to Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and the Greek Islands to document the most important migration since WWII, blogging, photo-document and publish a book. At times these projects can feel overwhelming, but they are also intensely gratifying. Most importantly this work gives profound meaning to my life.
As translated from an arabic script by Bahia Shebab in her Ted talk A thousand times no: You can crush the flowers but you can’t delay spring.
Please visit my blog, film, and photography website: www.neidrya.com
Bérangère Maïa Nathasha Parizeau is a French Canadian scholar, environmental activist, filmmaker, photographer, interdisciplinary artist, author, and the director/producer of Dragon Tears, residing in Vancouver, Canada.