Red Forest Hotel
Mika Koskinen, Finland, 2011, color, DCP, 87'
In rural China, farmers are intimidated into relinquishing their land for tree plantations. The Finnish-Swedish company Stora Enso is planting water-guzzling eucalyptus trees for a pulp and paper factory that is due to be built. Finnish filmmaker Mika Koskinen travels to the affected region in Southern China to talk with the farmers, only to find himself in an absurd situation where friendly propaganda officers want to provide "impartial and objective information from the government." One of their pieces of advice for him is to take a vacation at the seaside. Meanwhile, the people with whom he wanted to make contact are arrested or "given a holiday." The director himself is more or less confined to the Red Forest Hotel, hopelessly waiting for authorization to film in the affected villages. Some brave and desperate farmers try to make contact with the filmmaker, but the film project is obstructed at every turn. There is nothing to do but give up. A year later, he tries once again to find out what is taking place in the Chinese countryside. The film offers some fascinating insights into China's "new green politics" in a globalized economy. Can companies co-operate with authoritarian states while respecting local people's rights, or are these problems inherent in the current economic order? Some thought-provoking answers are provided by the ethnic Pumi people, who have guarded the ancient trees of Southern China for centuries.