As part of the 2018 Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital on Thursday, March 22, the Pulitzer Center presents "Who Owns the Land?" - a series of global stories on property rights and resources.
Five short films explore the intersection of property rights with environmental and social issues, followed by a discussion moderated by Jon Sawyer, founder and executive director of the Pulitzer Center. Astrid Zweynert of Thomson Reuters Foundation PLACE, Todd Wiseman and Kiah Collier of The Texas Tribune, Steve Sapienza of the Pulitzer Center, and filmmaker Kathryn Carlson will join the discussion.
The Taking: Oklahoma Avenue
Synopsis: More than a decade ago, the federal government began taking private property to build a border fence in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. An investigation by ProPublica and The Texas Tribune revealed that landowners were paid unevenly – different amounts of money for similar plots of land. Nowhere was that disparity more evident than on Oklahoma Avenue, a two-lane farm road in Brownsville where the fence ends. This video is part of “The Taking,” a Pulitzer Center-supported project looking at how the federal government abused its power to seize property for a border fence. Director Todd Wiseman (2018, United States)
In Barbuda, Residents Worry Communal Ownership Will Disappear
Synopsis: A Pulitzer Center-supported project for PBS NewsHour explores how, following Hurricane Irma's destruction, some residents of Barbuda are concerned that communal land ownership laws on the island are being changed in the interest of developers. Director Steve Sapienza (2017, Barbuda)
Green at What Price?
Synopsis: The Ugandan government wants to encourage development and boost its forest reserves. They’ve leased over 8,000 hectares of land to Norwegian-based company, Green Resources, Africa’s largest forestation company. This sounds like a good news story in Africa, except that Bukaleba Forest Reserve, on the shores of Lake Victoria, has been home to thousands of rural people for decades. These villagers are indicative of 90 percent of rural Africans who have no land title. This Thomson Reuters Foundation film explores one simple truth: Land acquisitions for growth and development can compromise the livelihoods of some of the world’s most vulnerable people. Director Nicky Milne (2016, Uganda)
A Widow’s Torment - National Geographic
Synopsis: When a Ugandan woman’s husband dies, so may her rights. Her rights to her land, her children, and her freedom are ingrained in the constitution but are largely ignored by her culture. In this Pulitzer Center project for National Geographic, Betty Nanozi, widowed 11 years, describes the unrelenting terror of life stripped of personhood. Directors Amy Toensing and Kathryn Carlson (2017, Uganda)
The Thorn in the Side of Power
Synopsis: A film about investigative journalist Clare Rewcastle’s role in unveiling the ”World’s Largest Financial Scandal.” Born in the Malaysian part of Borneo, Clare Rewcastle has dedicated herself to investigating corruption that has stripped the country of its natural resources. Director: Dylan Williams (2017, Malaysia)