Film-maker Cathy Henkel makes friends with a baby orangutan at a refuge in Indonesia in her film, The Burning Season.
Film-maker Cathy Henkel makes friends with a baby orangutan at a refuge in Indonesia in her film, The Burning Season. Image supplied

The Burning Season to screen on ABC TV

CLUNES film-maker Cathy Henkel spent 18 months travelling across four continents for her latest documentary, The Burning Season, which screens on ABC TV tonight, at 8.30pm.

The film follows the trials and tribulations of Australian entrepreneur Dorjee Sun as he tries to convince big business and banks to invest in the carbon stored in the forests of Indonesia.

It is a radical idea, but Dorjee manages to convince the provincial leaders of Aceh, Papua and West Papua that their forests are worth more to them intact than being cleared for palm oil plantations.

He gets 203 rejections as he meets with the heads of companies such as Starbucks and eBay, before he finally manages to strike a deal with British bank Merrill Lynch.

As Dorjee is negotiating in the world of high finance, the film shows viewers the devastating effects that palm oil plantations are having on the forests of Indonesia. In particular, it focuses on the amazing work of Danish expatriate Lone Droscher-Neilsen and her team, who rescue and care for orangutans.

The film's title, The Burning Season, refers to the time of year when huge tracts of land are cleared by burning.

Ms Henkel has just returned from New York, where she met former US vice-president-turned climate campaigner Al Gore and gave him a copy of the film.

"[Al Gore] is now a champion of the forests cause, which he says is the first and most important front in the battle against climate change," she said.

The film had its official premiere at the Brisbane International Film Festival in August, but also had some sneak previews in Lismore and Byron Bay. While in the US, Ms Henkel had the film screened at the World Bank headquarters in Washington, DC.

"People at the highest levels are now aware of this film and want to support it and see it go far and wide," she said.

The version of the film screening tomorrow night is 53 minutes long, but a feature-length 90-minute version will be released in Australian cinemas next year. An international sales agent has also offered to screen it in cinemas across the globe.

"There is a lot of good momentum building," Ms Henkel said.


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