Jim Marbrook, director of Mental Notes and the original Dark Horse doco, takes us inside the long environmental campaign that followed the pollution of traditional Kanak fishing grounds in New Caledonia in 2008.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2014
At Cap Bocage in New Caledonia in early January 2008, heavy rains washed toxic sludge from the hilltop nickel mines into Kanak customary fishing grounds below. Coastal village people testify that it’s the dramatic culmination of a slow and steady pollution that’s been going on for 30 years. Aucklander Jim Marbrook’s documentary follows independence activist Florent Eurisouké as he and the environmental organisation Mèè Rhaari take on the mining company, Ballande. Refusing any compromise, Mèè Rhaari demands repair and restitution. It’s a drawn out struggle, punctuated with judicial interventions and court-appointed environmental reports. Every delay favours Ballande as time and tide gradually disperse the spill into the ocean; meanwhile, Mèè Rhaari can act only with the endorsement of the traditional council leaders. Divisions grow between Eurisouké and the ‘realists’ amongst the elders. Their pragmatic accommodation to life with Ballande is openly admitted, but the details are, significantly, kept off camera. The charismatic Eurisouké constitutes a dynamic force field in Marbrook’s telling picture of a French Pacific territory deeply divided on the issue of independence.