Children watching an open air film screening in Siem Reap, Cambodia. ? TVE Asia Pacific
Nearly a decade ago, South Africa based British documentary producer Neil Curry made an extraordinary film,?The Elephant, the Emperor and the Butterfly Tree
?about the complex ecosystem around Africa?s mopane woodland. This engaging tale won many awards in leading environmental and natural history film festivals.
Having spent several months in Botswana researching and filming the story, Neil wanted to take the film back to where it was shot. He knew that the wildlife parks and schools in the area could use the film to educate the local people and visitors. However, there was one problem: the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Natural History Unit, which had funded the film and thus owned the copyright, would not share it. For two years, Neil?s request for a single DVD copy for use in Botswana was passed around within its bureaucracy until he gave up
.?This is not an isolated incident, and the BBC is not the only culprit. Every year, vast amounts of public or philanthropic funds are spent on making hundreds of documentaries and TV programmes on various environmental, development and social issues. These are typically aired a few times; some are also screened at film festivals or released on DVD. Most are locked up in broadcast archives and never seen again. Continue reading “Open Access and Closed Minds”