Distinguished Conservatist Lauds CAVU’s Work

By March 21, 2008Archive

Archie Carr III is Wildlife Conservation Society’s Senior Conservationist for Latin America. He recently recorded his thoughts about CAVU.

Dec 5th, 2007

I have seen most of the cinemagraphic products produced by CAVU, including the most recent release, Voces del Darién (Voices of the Darien), a film about a unique forest in Panama. It, like its predecessors, is a remarkable piece of work.

The CAVU films fall into a globally-significant genre of environmental practice known as community-based conservation. The camera addresses a natural area of ecological importance, and then explores the human-induced stresses that put that area at risk of degradation. That’s where the drama begins. But surprisingly — and always fascinating — the drama is not simply about man vs nature, but about conflicts and disharmonies within human societal structures that yield both hardship for people, and leave nature perpetually in harm’s way. The films are generally about rural communities in Central America, and such communities are almost always made up of people with limited economic means, and who are, or perceive themselves to be, politically disenfranchised. They feel weak, and are vulnerable to other potent forces, such as timber companies and cattle ranchers, who do, indeed, have governmental influence, and are motivated by the chance at great riches through alteration of the surrounding habitat.

In a CAVU film, the fate of the people and the landscape are intimately and often dangerously united.

The cinematography in these productions is of the highest order, and the video images assure a visually gripping story. But telling the story is not the expected somber academic voice, but the voices of the people themselves, and that may be the secret to CAVU’s success. On-camera interviews with stakeholders, representatives of all of the vying entities in these wilderness dramas, are presented to the viewer. And, far removed from the halls of academia, these people tell a complicated tale of cultural anthropology, micro-economics, systems ecology, conservation biology and rural sociology that is worthy of a college degree.

The interviews yield a very compelling experience in environmental communications, and they set the stage for CAVU’s final achievement: closing the circle. The prime intended audience of the CAVU film is the community, itself. Under the roof of a big, thatched palapa, with the hum of a portable generator off in the darkness, the CAVU producer runs the film, and the people are enthralled. The commentators on the screen are known to them. Their words are understood. In the single, dazzling projection, all the facets that govern their often troubled lives are explored. Understanding is achieved by the people; enlightenment to the details of their own predicament. And that is when the circle closes, because from those insights, absorbed by the community, comes empowerment, a remedy to disenfranchisement, and the determination to bring order, justice and humanity to life at the edge of wilderness.

Archie Carr III
Senior Conservationist
Wildlife Conservation Society

Dec 5th, 2007

I have seen most of the cinemagraphic products produced by CAVU, including the most recent release, Voces del Darién (Voices of the Darien), a film about a unique forest in Panama. It, like its predecessors, is a remarkable piece of work.

The CAVU films fall into a globally-significant genre of environmental practice known as community-based conservation. The camera addresses a natural area of ecological importance, and then explores the human-induced stresses that put that area at risk of degradation. That’s where the drama begins. But surprisingly — and always fascinating — the drama is not simply about man vs nature, but about conflicts and disharmonies within human societal structures that yield both hardship for people, and leave nature perpetually in harm’s way. The films are generally about rural communities in Central America, and such communities are almost always made up of people with limited economic means, and who are, or perceive themselves to be, politically disenfranchised. They feel weak, and are vulnerable to other potent forces, such as timber companies and cattle ranchers, who do, indeed, have governmental influence, and are motivated by the chance at great riches through alteration of the surrounding habitat.

In a CAVU film, the fate of the people and the landscape are intimately and often dangerously united.

The cinematography in these productions is of the highest order, and the video images assure a visually gripping story. But telling the story is not the expected somber academic voice, but the voices of the people themselves, and that may be the secret to CAVU’s success. On-camera interviews with stakeholders, representatives of all of the vying entities in these wilderness dramas, are presented to the viewer. And, far removed from the halls of academia, these people tell a complicated tale of cultural anthropology, micro-economics, systems ecology, conservation biology and rural sociology that is worthy of a college degree.

The interviews yield a very compelling experience in environmental communications, and they set the stage for CAVU’s final achievement: closing the circle. The prime intended audience of the CAVU film is the community, itself. Under the roof of a big, thatched palapa, with the hum of a portable generator off in the darkness, the CAVU producer runs the film, and the people are enthralled. The commentators on the screen are known to them. Their words are understood. In the single, dazzling projection, all the facets that govern their often troubled lives are explored. Understanding is achieved by the people; enlightenment to the details of their own predicament. And that is when the circle closes, because from those insights, absorbed by the community, comes empowerment, a remedy to disenfranchisement, and the determination to bring order, justice and humanity to life at the edge of wilderness.

Archie Carr III

Senior Conservationist

Wildlife Conservation Society

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