The vision and the issues:

This is a story of youthful innocence coming into direct conflict with corruption and destruction. Rise of the Eco-Warriors follows fifteen passionate young people as they join acclaimed scientist Dr Willie Smits to spend 100 days in the jungles of Borneo. The film documents their adventures and reactions to the many challenges they face along the way.

The core question of the film is this: what can a group of dedicated young people and a visionary scientist, achieve in 100 days in the jungle, and can they motivate others to take action for lasting change?

The stakes are extremely high. At a global level, we are witnessing one of the most intense conflicts in human history – the march of ‘progress’ and the pursuit by an elite few to conquer nature to ensure human comfort and short-term profit at the expense of our natural world and the future of life on this planet. In our story, it is the forests of Borneo, the Dayak communities and the orangutans whose futures are at stake. But so too, is the future of all life on this planet, for without the forests and its biodiversity, this planet becomes uninhabitable.

On the island of Borneo, vast areas of pristine rainforest are slashed and burned each year to make way for palm oil plantations. The vegetable oil from the oil palm is used in many of our everyday foods, cosmetics and cleaning products. Large-scale deforestation is pushing orangutans to extinction, along with many other native species of Borneo.

The battle lines are drawn, but this is not an even playing field. The juggernauts of destruction are driven by big business and greed, fed by technology and science, supported by politics and law enforcement, and fuelled by consumer ignorance, all in the name of ‘progress’ and ‘endless economic growth’.

READ FULL STATEMENT BY DIRECTOR CATHY HENKEL