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Los Angeles-Based Venice Arts and Bangkok-Based The Center for People and Forests Release Short Film Series -- Voices of the Forests: Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwired - Mar 18, 2015) - Venice Arts, together with The Center for People and Forests (RECOFTC), released a series of three short films created collaboratively with RECOFTC staff and villagers living in forest communities in Pursat, Cambodia; Inle Lake, Myanmar (Burma); and Khao Rao Thian Thong, Thailand. The films have been released online in celebration of the International Day of Forests on March 21st. They will screen in Los Angeles in April.

These highly unique films are the outcome of a "participatory" process in which, under the training and direction of Venice Arts, RECOFTC staff and villagers worked together to identify and develop their stories. Beautiful and intimate, they show what happens when individual villagers courageously stand-up for their rights and their children's futures, reversing years of environmental degradation to sustain their livelihoods and the environment.

Myanmar tells the story of a mother of two who can no longer gather resources from the forest, so she must ask her eldest daughter to leave school in order to help support the family. In Thailand, a female member of a bamboo-shoot processing cooperative tells how they make their livelihood from forest products, while working to improve the area's degraded forest and promote its long-term sustainability. The film from Cambodia features the stories of two extraordinary community leaders, who take us on a night patrol and show us the importance of forest resources to the community.

According to Tint Lwin Thaung, RECOFTC's Executive Director, "Many challenges in forest conservation have occurred because local people's participation in management has been undermined. Good governance of forest resources relies on involving local communities, as their livelihoods depend largely on forest resources. These videos show ... [how] three local communities can contribute to sustainable forest management."

Reflecting on the process, Venice Arts' Executive Director, Lynn Warshafsky says, "Participants deepened their ability to listen for, visualize, and uplift stories of transformation; to understand that even small stories, told well, can serve as witness, facilitator, and change agent."

The films will be used in local communities to foster dialogue, as well as nationally and internationally among forest decision-makers to bring community voices to the fore. They are available at: www.venicearts.org and www.recoftc.org.