Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Alan Adelson/Kate Taverna's THE PEOPLE VS AGENT ORANGE: Our poisoning continues....


This new documentary begins in the state of Oregon back in 2015 with a quiet shock: The same horrific chemicals used in Agent Orange are being used to spray forests here in the USA. 

THE PEOPLE VS AGENT ORANGE calls the use of this herbicide/defoliant "the most destructive incidence of chemical warfare in modern history," and by the time you've finished this information-filled, quiet, never-raises-its-voice documentary, you are likely to agree.  

As written and directed (with the help of additional writer Véronique Bernard) by Alan Adelson (shown below) and Kate Taverna (at left) the film takes us back to the Vietnam era, when Agent Orange was first used and its lethal effects on humanity initially noticed (and done nothing about). 

Older readers may remember the enormous amount of pushing, insisting and finally fighting our government -- that initially refused to even recognize the harm done by Agent Orange -- by American 
servicemen who had fought in Vietnam and suffered the effects of the chemical. What we didn't see much (maybe any) of back then was the horror inflicted upon the Vietnamese themselves, where as many as four million people were exposed to the chemicals. 

The People vs Agent Orange remedies this by moving gracefully back and forth between Vietnam and the USA (with a few side trips to Paris), while showing us the important work being done by two women. 

Tran To Nga (shown at left, below), herself a victim of Agent Orange whom we see in both Vietnam and France, is suing the American chemical industry -- including U.S. multinational companies Dow Chemical and Monsanto, both of which are now owned by the German conglomerate Bayer. We view not only her legal fight but the visits she makes to the younger generation of Agent Orange's dreadful legacy.

In America, we meet Carol Van Strum (below), who, for decades now, has continued to expose the use of toxic herbicides in the Pacific Northwest. All this -- even after a home break-in and the disappearance of a trove of documents that incriminate the chemical companies, and a hugely suspicious fire that destroys her home and kills family -- attests to the strength and insistence of Van Strum and other activists who continue to fight for justice. 

How these companies have gotten away with all this and continue to do so remains yet another of the great shames of our nation. Where is justice and accountability in all this? Will corporations, along with their money and lobbyists, forever control us, while destroying us in the process? (The latest example of the USA's no accountability practice comes as our new President, while admitting that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, declines to level any punishment against the despicable little Prince.) 

The chemical spraying, which we both observe and learn more about, does not simply land on foliage but goes into the area's drinking water, as well. Plus, the chemicals themselves have a half-life that's truly frightening. The documentary easily combines 60-year-old history with recent events and actions, while profiling its two leading women, along with brief glimpses of other activists consistently fighting against the chemical behemoths. 

The People vs Agent Orange
is a quiet, composed film that never grows angry. But so comprehensive and scathing is the information presented that, by the finale, viewers should be incensed beyond belief. 

Running 87 minutes, in English, French and Vietnamese with English subtitles as needed, the documentary opens this Friday, March 5, in a couple dozen cities across the country. Click here to access information on all the current theaters, virtual and otherwise, where the film can be seen.

No comments: