Fernando E. Solanas’ film opens with a series of startling images: in the province of Salta in northern Argentina, centuries-old forests are being cleared to make way for huge soya plantations. Indigenous farmers are being driven out of their villages and are no longer allowed to use the access roads that have now been privatised. Herbicides are being sprayed and diseases are spreading. These images form the starting point for this doyen of investigative documentary’s angry condemnation of state-sanctioned environmental crimes committed by industrial agriculture and their consequences. Solanas’ film investigates the social aftermath of monoculture and the uncontrolled use of weedkillers and other chemical substances. It shows how toxins that are spread on the fields are already having a devastating effect on the development of embryos. He also puts this toxification to the test by asking: how heavily poisoned is his own blood? At the same time, he explores ways in which we can break out of this vicious circle of a corrupt system in which consumers are deceived and regulation is eliminated. Do ecological alternatives have a chance?

Fernando Solanas.

This director and screenwriter was born in Argentina in 1936 and studied theatre, music and law. Between 1966 and 1968 he worked on a documentary trilogy entitled ‘The Hour of the Furnaces’ which screened in over 70 countries. In 1976, after receiving death threats, he went into exile in Paris but returned to Buenos Aires in 1983. He won international awards for his films Tangos, the Exile of Gardel, South, The Journey and Clouds. In 2004 he was honoured with the Golden Bear for his lifetime’s achievement. In 2002 he began the documentary cycle of which A Journey to the Fumigated Towns is the closing film.

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