BHOPALI documents the experience of second generation children affected by the Union Carbide gas disaster of 1984, the worst industrial disaster in history, and subsequent contamination of groundwater by Union Carbide Corporation (an American company now owned by Dow Chemical, the second largest chemical company in the world). It follows several children as they and their families cope with the ongoing medical and social disaster, as well as their memories of that traumatizing night that shocked the world and changed Bhopal forever. Set against the backdrop of vehement protests for the 25th anniversary of the disaster, the Bhopalis continue to fight for justice, proving to be anything but victims.
Thousands were killed and more than 100,000 were affected by the contaminants. 26 years have passed since the disaster, yet the suffering continues and, for the victims, justice has yet to be seen. Award winning director Van Maximilian Carlson presents a modern portrait of shattered lives in the community surrounding the abandoned Union Carbide factory. We focus on survivors of the disaster and their families as they continue life amongst the indelible remainders of contamination and death. Set against a backdrop of high stakes activism, global politics, and human rights advocacy, this film explores the ongoing struggle for justice against Union Carbide, the American corporation responsible for the disaster. Featuring Noam Chomsky, Satinath Sarangi, and attorney Rajan Sharma.
SAIBA BABU, an 18-month-old infant, was born in 2008 with severe birth defects due to the contaminated water near the factory. We witness her father’s journey to restore Saiba’s health within a hospital system ill equipped and incapable of helping. “Here at the hospital, money talks. You give money, and you’ll be looked after. We are poor people, and we don’t have money, and that’s why no one looks after us, even if your child is dying.”
UNION CARBIDE, now owned by DOW Chemical, is the perpetrator of the world’s worst industrial disaster in modern history. It once produced jobs and pesticides that aided India’s agricultural development but “from the 80s onwards, Union Carbide cut costs in every way possible… which meant reduction of safety.” In 1984 a toxic gas leak occurred at the factory, killing and devastating thousands
“For the Bhopal people the disaster has been unending. There are more than 100,000 people still chronically ill. In the next generation there are children born to gas effected people that are being born with birth defects, growth disorders, and additionally there are 30,000 people who have been forced to drink contaminated water for the last 15 years.” The demand for justice against the corporation responsible is articulated in BHOPALI by interviews, scenes of activism, and commemorative events during the 25th anniversary of the disaster (December 2009.)
THE CHINGARI TRUST (link to "Get Involved" page) is a rehabilitation center in Bhopal that treats and educates children born with debilitating physical and mental conditions caused by the contaminants from Union Carbide. The trust is a safe-haven for the children of Bhopal and their mothers, who depend on and attend Chingari regularly. BHOPALI documents the heartbreaking conditions of the children at Chingari, while contrasting the hopes of mothers who witness their child’s progress, with the anguish of those whose children will never improve.
SANJAY VERMA was 6 months old when the disaster killed his mother, father, and five brothers and sisters in one night, leaving only his older siblings Sunil and Mumpta alive. Sanjay searches for answers to lingering questions that have haunted him throughout his life. “Where was God when my family died? Where was God when my brother took his life? Where was God?” This guilt and his many questions over those who died that night, his family, and God, have led him to activism. Sanjay’s heroic struggle, transcending from a victim to a survivor to an activist, has given him hope.
Van Maximilian Carlson, Director / Cinematographer / Editor
Van Maximilian Carlson, born November 1984, is a Los Angeles-based director, editor, and cinematographer who has worked on numerous projects including documentaries, commercials, trailers, and several original dramatic films. His directorial works have received numerous awards, such as a “Special Jury Award” at the 40th Annual USA Film Festival, the “Most Promising Director Award” at the Buﬀalo Niagara Film Festival, and the “Best Director Award” at the Toronto International Teen Movie Festival for a short film he completed while in high school. He directed and shot DISSOCIATIVE (2008), which went on to win a “Best thriller Award.” His film, NINTH NOVEMBER NIGHT (2004), was considered by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Documentary Screening Committee to be “one of the outstanding documentaries of 2004.” His editorial work has also been recognized and awarded three Promax/ BDA awards and one Key Art nomination.
Visit Van Maximilian Carlson’s website http://www.maxcarlsonfilms.com
Kirk Palayan, Producer
Kirk Palayan has written and produced several dramatic films. He wrote and produced a short film LABYRINTH (2000), which was lauded for being “a powerful parable on drug abuse” at the Palm Springs International Short
Film Festival. BARSTOW (2003) was chosen to play at the Toronto International Teen Movie Festival. The “Best Thriller” and “Most Promising Director” awards were given to his short film DISSOCIATIVE (2008), which he wrote and produced. He is part of the Los Angeles
King Middle School Highly Gifted Technology and Arts Magnet Program and established the Animation program where students design, storyboard, and create cartoons with 2D and 3D animation software. He has also established an Animation & Film Festival, which is in its’ 8th year, and highlights the best work from over 1,500 student filmmakers and animators.
TAKESHI FURUKAWA, Co-Composer
Film composer Takeshi Furukawa discovered his aﬃnity for musical composition at an early age. At just three years old he learned how to play the piano. At age 9, the gifted Furukawa took composition lessons, and his impressive skills earned him several awards in youth composition competitions, including two nationwide first prize awards. When the young Furukawa purchased his first CD, John Williams’ Jurassic Park motion picture soundtrack, he knew instantly where his life would be headed. “Williams’ music just felt so enchanting as a boy,” says Furukawa. “It was the thrill of ‘movie magic’ that made me want to do this as a profession.” Those thrills lead Furukawa to the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he earned a degree in Composition and Music Synthesis, graduating summa cum laude. A month after graduating, he landed a much-coveted job at Paramount Studios as an orchestrator for the television series Star Trek: Enterprise. e gig would eventually get the 24-year-old Furukawa hired on Star Wars: e Clone Wars feature film in 2008, working with composer Kevin Kiner. While working on Clone Wars, Catherine Winder, producer and right-hand to George Lucas, was so impressed by Furukawa’s music and conducting that she brought him on board the Clone Wars TV series as contributing composer to the show. Furukawa is currently in the 72nd episode and third season of Clone Wars. He also finds time in his year-round television schedule to compose music for indie films such as NoNames, an award-winning drama starring James Badge Dale & Gillian Jacobs, documentaries, and most recently video games.
Visit Takeshi’s website at http://www.snowingmusic.com/
HENNING LOHNER, Co-Composer
Henning Lohner is a German born film composer and a member of Remote Control Productions, founded by Academy Award Winner Hans Zimmer. After earning a Master’s in musicology at Frankfurt University in 1987, Lohner went on to collaborate with Karlheinz Stockhausen on the opera LICHT. Lohner was musical advisor for Louis Malle on the film MAY FOOLS and has produced film and music projects with Frank Zappa such as PEEFEEYATKO and THE YELLOW SHARK, as well as ONE 11 AND 103 with John Cage. In 1996, Lohner began an apprenticeship with Hans Zimmer, working on titles such as BROKEN ARROW, GLADIATOR, and THE THIN RED LINE. He composed additional music for the Jim Brooks directed SPANGLISH, and co-composed music for THE RING. He scored THE RING TWO as well as the Werner Herzog produced INCIDENT AT LOCHNESS. He has scored over 40 films nationally and internationally, including dramas, comedies, horror, and action films. Lohner is Guest Professor at the renowned Zurich Academy for Music and theatre.