Red Forest Hotel | Punaisen Metsan Hotelli
This was the official website for the 2011 film Red Forest Hotel whose original title was Punaisen Metsan Hotelli. The content below is from the site's 2011-2013 archived pages and other sources.
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.
A Finnish news cameraman, Mika Koskinen, who has worked for 15 years in Beijing starts to document China's massive tree-planting campaigns. Faced with the threat of climate change, the economic giant China is strongly investing in recycling, renewable energy and other environmental reforms. The filmmaker wants to explore whether authoritarian China, with its effective new environmental policies, could set a green example for the world. He 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.
ABOUT STORA ENSO AND THE PROJECT IN GUANGXI
Stora Enso is the world's second largest forestry company with over 26 000 employees in 85 offices across the world.
Companies and organizations in Finland and Sweden own the majority of Stora Enso's shares. As of 31 August 2011, the biggest single shareholder was the Finnish state with a share of 35%. (This consists of Solidium's 25,1% and the Social Insurance Institution Kela's 10,1%). Further, citizens of Finland hold shares in Stora Enso through their pension insurance companies (such as Varma 6,5% and Ilmarinen 2,5%).
The Finnish government has transferred ownership of big companies to a state-owned holding company, Solidium. Stora Enso's CEO is Jouko Karvinen. In 2011, Stora Enso was listed as one of the world's "most ethical companies", a list published by an American consulting firm Ethisphere.
Corporations are eager to use the positive publicity from listings like this, but awards from corporate consulting firms are in many ways problematic. Ethisphere, which also awarded companies like McDonald's and Adidas, admits that they rely largely on unverifiable data given by the corporations themselves. Further, Ethisphere has financial links to many of the corporations it reviews. It's All Good - Beware of corporate consulting firms offering awards for corporate ethics.
Stora Enso began operations in Guangxi in 2002 with the goal of a tree plantation of 120 000 hectares that would produce fiber for pulp- paper and cardboard production.
Later the goal was raised to 160 000 ha. After news of the violence in Guangxi broke out, CEO Jouko Karvinen said that "all sides will understand that no tree or plot of land is so important for us, nor will it ever be so important, that it would justify the use of violence."
However, Stora Enso has not backed down from the project, even if in their year reports (of 2010 and 2011) they mention more violent incidents, eg. in July 2009 and in 2010.
"The story unfolds like a suspense film" *** Taneli Topelius, IS
"Documentary film at its best" *** Jukka Vuorio, Seura
"...quite a feather in Koskinen's cap, and an important lesson on where our money is invested." Pekka Mykkänen, HS
"Mika Koskinen lets his camera record with surprising courage, even when told not to" ***** Olli-Matti Oinonen, Savon Sanomat
"It stings" Stora Enso's Head of Communications, Lauri Peltola, in Iltalehti (interviewed by Jenna Heino)
"The strange chain of peculiar events resembles a mystery story....The absurdity of the events would be funny if things weren't so serious *** Rane Aunimo, Uutispäivä Demari
"Full of tragicomedy and absurdism, even a threat of violence." Vesa Skaffari, smackthejack
"Closer to a detective story than an environmental documentary" *** Rane Aunimo, Uutispäivä Demari
"The documentary's essential merit is to prove how authentic green thinking, philosophy, is something else than the green words used in political liturgy..." *** Juha Rosenqvist, film-o-holic
"Everything is Kafkaesque and Orwellian" ***** Olli-Matti Oinonen, Keskisuomalainen
"Lauri Peltola, Head of Global Responsibility at Stora Enso, denies the documentary's claims." Markus Määttänen, Aamulehti
"****" Tuomas Rantanen, Voima
"****" Andrea Svanbäck, HBL
"****" Paavo Ihalainen, Episodi
"Like the siege scene in a thriller... The images are delicious..." Anssi Juntto, Kaleva
"Kafka's spirit is alive in the Far East" Katso, Ismo Lehtonen
"The film intends to provoke thoughts, and indeed it does." Maaseudun Tulevaisuus, Suvi Niemi
Background to the Documentary Film
Finnish news cameraman and documentary filmmaker Mika Koskinen moved to China in 1994. "This film project started in 2008 when we filmed citizens, ranging from schoolchildren to elderly people, who were zealously planting trees in the north of Beijing. My original goal was to find out how massive tree-planting campaigns were organized and to learn from the Chinese approach to tackling climate change. Forests and wilderness were important to me already as a child growing up in Finland, and I was troubled by the effects of industrial forestry."
"I had spent many years in China working for Western broadcasters, documenting the country's huge economic growth and its climb to be the biggest polluter in the world. This was depressing: the burden on the environment could be seen and felt everywhere. Air pollution was choking my lungs and making my eyes burn. It was clear that China would have to change course. I remember when I was filming at the National Congress where Prime Minister Wen Jiabao gave a speech about environmental values."
"It is impressing how fast enormous changes can be made in China, for instance entire cities can be built in almost no time. I was curious to follow what methods would be chosen to fight climate change in this country ruled by a single party. Without competing parties slowing down policy-making, who knows what new efficient solutions might emerge?"
Soon after this, China published their new climate program. It included policies that would strengthen the new economy, such as renewable energy, saving and recycling resources, but also some quite hard methods which had started already in the seventies, such one child policy and massive tree planting projects. The documentary focuses on the tree planting. "The more we filmed, the more we started to see the reality behind the ambitious public goals. Near Shanghai I filmed trucks carrying massive tree trunks, illegally imported from rain forests across the borders. The trees were heavy enough to lift the loader's rear wheels off the ground, and the ground shook when these thousand-year-old trunks fell."
Further, not only citizens are planting trees in China: forestry corporations such as Finnish-Swedish company Stora Enso have set up significant tree plantations. Stora Enso is planning to build a paper mill in Guangxi province, Southern China. The company will need to develop eucalyptus plantations twice as large as New York City to feed the paper mill.
"I had once been on a film trip in Guangxi province with a reporter for the Finnish Broadcasting Company. This was after there had been reports blaming Stora Enso for violent incidents in the region. The company promised to take action and solve the problems, but the media soon dropped interest in the topic. I decided to visit the area a second time and contacted lawyer Yang Zaixin. No one else was supposed to know I was travelling there. This trip changed the whole film project. I ended up in a Kafkaesque situation. I realised that in a global economy, international corporations cross borders with ease. How to control the effects of their industrial projects is also a key question to the climate dilemma."
In the documentary, researcher Larry Lohmann criticizes the Finnish forestry industry for exporting monoculture tree plantations to the global South: industrial forestry will inevitably damage the surrounding nature as well as the people dependent on it. During a Stora Enso shareholder meeting in Helsinki, Finland, the camera turns on demonstrators who accuse the company of greenwashing. In the Chinese villages surrounded by eucalyptus, the villagers tell only bad experiences from the plantation project. Water-guzzling eucalyptus trees have dried out wells and traditional medicinal plants have disappeared. Even the birds have fallen silent.
Koskinen also travels to regions in Southern China where modernisation has not yet reached: in Yunnan province, a ethnic minority known as the Pumi respects the forests and treats 700-year-old trees as their friends. Their ancient, unhurried and earthy way of life serves to remind us that environmentally sound societies already (still) exist.
"Finally, I did not find a 'green' solution from either the communist or capitalist systems. But the Pumi people and their old-growth forests are living proof that people are indeed able to live at peace with their environment, and that old forests can protect us, even from climate change."
Luxian Productions Oy (Ltd.) is a Finnish production company established in 1998.
The company produces documentaries, offers full production services for foreign broadcasters and companies in China and the Asian region and occasionally organizes meetings between Chinese independent documentary makers and Western broadcasters.
Luxian Productions Oy has been a co-producer in all Mika Koskinen's earlier documentaries from China . The company has also filmed and edited over 600 news and reportage programs for the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE in Asia.
The Red Forest Hotel has been made into a beautifully illustrated story of 12 pages. To see it yourself, get hold of the XXI magazine, issue 24 (Autumn 2013). The magazine is distributed in France and Belgium.
We have published a response letter to a bulletin which Stora Enso has been sending to all its stakeholders and people watching the Red Forest Hotel. It comments on the the long-awaited UNDP report which Stora Enso claimed to exonerate the Guangxi project, and poses some questions that the company has not so far been able to answer. Read the letter here!
Eleven International NGO´s file complaint to UN Human Rights Council about Stora Enso's land acquisitions. UN Global Compact requires Stora Enso to respond to allegations by 11 April.
ESTONIA Red Forest Hotel at Nordic Look 2013 on Thursday! http://2013.nordiclook.ee/filmid
CANADA. Red Forest Hotel at
SWITZERLAND Red Forest Hotel also appears at the Festival du Film Vert in Geneva on 24th February at 18.45 (Maison des Arts du Grütli) Festival du Film Vert
Welcome to join our tour with "Red Forest Hotel" (Den tysta skogen) documentary screenings and discussion events in Sweden. The tour is organised to answer the demand by citizens, students and universities to see the film in Sweden, and to celebrate tella Bianca's decision to give this year's Holme award to the documentary's two main characters, lawyer Yang Zaixin and farmer Su Tianjin.
Today, on 14 September we received information that lawyer Yang Zaixin has been released. He arrived home yesterday on 13 September 2012 at 2pm.
Lawyer Yang Zaixin has become internationally known from the documentary film Red Forest Hotel as the person who first revealed violence and environmental problems related to the plantation and pulp mill project of forestry company Stora Enso in Guangxi, China.
Yang Zaixin was first imprisoned for nine months, and after Stora Enso announced their investment decision in March 2012, he was moved to house arrest for what would amount to six months. He spoke today on the phone with Red Forest Hotel director Mika Koskinen. According to Yang Zaixin, no court instance was willing to handle the made-up charges against him - thus he had to be released after having spent the maximum time in pretrial detention and house arrest. Yang Zaixin expressed his gratitude for all the support he has received. He plans to first take a little rest and then continue his work as lawyer
Red Forest Hotel will be screened at the DocsDF-film festival in México, 8-18 Nov 2012. Screenings on 9,10 and 11 November.
Red Forest Hotel will be opening the State (T)error category at the Milano film festival on 12 September 2012!
SIGN the petition HERE and send the link to your friends. Petition in Finnish can be signed HERE .
RELEASE LAWYER YANG ZAIXIN. HALT PULP MILL PLANS IN BEIHAI.
Chinese lawyer Yang Zaixin has been imprisoned in Beihai, Southern China since June 2011. We demand that the Finnish government and officials and forestry company Stora Enso take action to end his unjust imprisonment.
A special screening of Red Forest Hotel in Belfast will be held during Yellow Fever Film Festival at Stormont Hotel, Sunday 9 September at 12:30 pm.
Red Forest Hotel was selected to the feature length -category at Artova Film Festival 7-8 September 2012. Winner is announced on Saturday 8 Sept. at 12.00
"El Hotel del Bosque Rojo" participates in the Monterrey International Film Festival in Mexico on August 16-26.
The "Swedish Greenwashing Prize of 2012" was awarded for Stora Enso by Friends of the Earth Sweden. Stora Enso beat other candidates such as IKEA and FSC in the vote. Friends of the Earth Sweden mentions the company's monoculture plantations and environmental crimes in Brazil, as well as violations of environmental and human rights in China.
European Film Festival Palić in Serbia July14-20. Red Forest Hotel will be screened on July 15.
Red Forest Hotel (Den tysta skogen) is aired on Swedish SVT2 on Sunday, 20th May at 22.00. "Svensk-finska skogsjätten Stora Enso planerar en ny massafabrik i Kina. Men i skuggan av den gigantiska investeringen finns rykten om våld mot lokalbefolkningen, markstölder och miljöproblem." ead on SVT.
Red Forest Hotel will soon appear in these European film festivals:
One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival in Prague (March 6-15). Screenings were sold out!
Stockholm: DocLounge 3. April at 18.00.
London: Dochouse on April 12. UK Premiere + panel discussion with Green Politics Expert Larry Lohmann and Senior China Advisor of Global Witness Lizzie Parsons.
Petrozavodsk, Russia: Barents Ecology Film Festival BEFF 18-22. April 2012
Leuven, Belgium: Docville International Documentary Festival 27.April - 5 May 2012
Planete Doc-festival in Warsaw, Poland, May 11-20.
Brussels, Belgium: One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival 17-26 May, 2012
The Finnish version of the film is running in various cinemas across the country in January. See here for times & places.
Red Forest Hotel has been selected to Docpoint, Helsinki Documentary Film Festival.
"Also this year the jury put weight on the originality of the films as well as on the directors' ability to view things anew. All selected films deal with international subjects: the film makers are interested in other countries' conditions and in Finland's global role in the world economy."
Date for movie theatre premiere in Finland is 2012/01/13.
Red Forest Hotel will have its World Premiere on 20 November 2011, at the 24th International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. The film participates in the IDFA Competition for Green Screen Documentary...