Coconut Revolution is a film I would recommend to everyone. A documentary team visit the island of Bougainville, between the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. The island is rich in mineral resources and attracted the attentions of mining corporation Rio Tinto Zinc who opened a copper mine there in 1969. The mine is a massive scar on the landscape (6km long, 4km wide and 0.5km deep) and discharged over 1bn tonnes of toxic materials into the local water supply. The local people opposed the mine from the start and in 1988 they stole mining explosives from the company and forcibly shut down the mine.
Bougainville was ceded to Papua New Guinea as part of a colonial landswap by the British. However, the local people have never accepted PNG rule and want to remain independent. When they shut down the mine the PNG government sent in riot police and then their army (trained by Australian special forces) to attack the Bougainville Revolutionary Army. Using only bows and arrows, until they captured better weaponary, the BRA beat the PNG armed forces back until only a few isolated encampments remain. PNG kept the island under militarily enforced blockade.
As a result, the people of Bougainville have had to come up with ingeneous ways to become self-sufficient and make do with the natural resources of their homeland. The film showed the remarkable uses they put to the coconut - using the oil to clean guns, heal wounds, make baskets and fuel their vehicles. They rediscovered medicinal plants and claim to be able to cure a remarkable variety of diseases. With the bits and pieces left behind at the mine they have been able to build their own hydroelectric generators to power their villages. The people of Bougainville are an inspiration to those who wish to kick the polluters out of their area and develop more sustainable ways of living. It is also a harsh reminder of the roles of governments and corporations in stopping these changes coming about.
The climate camp films brought the issues closer to home. The agrofuels documentary explored the human costs of the current boom in biofuels and what people are doing to try to stop it. By examining the ordinary people caught up in toxic sprays and brutal paramilitary gangs that accompany soya farming and the dangerous consequences of using common land to grow jatropha in Africa the dangers of biofuel production for food supplies and the livelihoods of ordinary people in the global south were made clear. The film also covered soy destruction by citizens movements in Paraguay and a blockade of a biofuels refinery in Essex showing that resistance to biofuels is global. Then the Kingsnorth documentary brought it back to the UK's biggest eco-protest - the climate camp - which was situated near the site of Kingsnorth coal power station.
Big thanks to NSPM for putting on the festival. It was an inspiring day!