Andreas Rocksen at Laika Film & Television AB and William Johansson Kalén produced the legal documentary, with Clin d’Oeil films, Relation04 Media AS, Radio Film Ltd. and Aricadoc each contributing as co-producers.
One of several high-profile Chilean productions or co-productions featuring at this year’s event, “Arica” examines the circumstances, long-term fallout and eventual legal battle resulting from illegal waste dumping of toxic chemicals by the Boliden mining company on the outskirts of Arica, a village in northern Chile.
According to the Business & Human Rights Resource Center, Boliden shipped approximately 20,000 tons of smelter sludge to the Polygono area in Arica between 1984 and 1985. The waste, originating from Boliden’s Rönnskär arsenic plant in Sweden, was sold to Chilean company Promel for processing, however, it was reportedly left unprocessed and unprotected at the site until 1998. Nearly a decade before the discovery, housing developments were built nearby.
In 2008, Edman and Johansson Kalén first traveled to Arica with whistle-blower Rolf Svedberg where they shot “Toxic Playground,” their first film together. That film revealed the left-behind toxic waste, which over the decades had caused thousands of cases of cancer, birth defects and neurological disorders. In 2009, Chilean authorities finally evacuated the area.
After the film’s release, U.S. lawyer Lewis Gordon embarked on the landmark Toxic Colonialism case against the mining company. Where “Toxic Playground” unearthed the unprotected toxic waste, “Arica” follows the ensuing court case and was granted access to the legal team behind the litigation.
Eventually, the observers became part of the documentary however, when Edman was called as a witness for the prosecution, while Svedberg was summoned to testify for the defense.
“We are very proud to premiere this powerful and urgent film at IDFA and we hope it will trigger a change,” said Lightdox co-founder and CEO Anna Berthollet. “’Arica’ depicts the fight between capitalism and the corporate world against human morality and justice. It’s our responsibility to bring this story to light and represent the voice of the underrepresented.”
Lightdox has five films in the official selection IDFA this year, including Ulrike Ottinger’s “Paris Calligrammes,” produced by Zero One Film and playing in the Masters sidebar; Amel Alzakout and Khaled Abdulwahed’s “Purple Sea,” backed by Pong Film and playing in Paradocs; and two Best of Fests players in Michele Pennetta’s “Il Mio Corpo” and Lina Soualem’s “Their Algeria.”