True Vision

films that make a difference

Up In Smoke

Up In Smoke
Back to ‘Our Films’
70 minutes
Claire Ferguson
Adam Wakeling
Executive Producer:
Brian Woods, Jess Seach

Slash and burn farming generates more carbon emissions annually than all air and road travel put together. It is one of the biggest contributors to deforestation and global warming. It sits at the crossroads of two of the greatest threats to global stability: accelerating climate change and diminishing food security.

Up In Smoke follows British scientist Mike Hands, who has laboured for 25 years to find a solution to replacing slash & burn agriculture in equatorial rainforests.

And he’s found it.

But perfecting this novel technique, called ‘alley cropping’, was only the start. Now he needs to persuade governments, agencies and, more important than anyone else, the farmers.

This is a film about a struggle for our future.  About the heroic, sometimes quixotic, mission of Mike Hands to get people to understand his revolutionary method.  It’s about the life and death struggle of impoverished farmers who can’t afford to risk adopting a new farming method. It’s a film about our driving need to change what’s happening to the planet’s rainforests, and about the pressures that may prevent that change from happening.

Mike Hands has a solution, but is the world ready to listen?

We follow three principal characters: Mike Hands himself, and two Honduran farmers, Faustino and Aladino, one of whom has adopted Mike’s technique, the other waiting to be convinced.

Filmed over 3 years, the film moves between the UK and Honduras on a dramatic path that leads eventually to the Copenhagen Climate Summit in December 2009. We get to see the proof of alley cropping, but will proof be enough to trigger real change? Politics has its own ways of interfering with the science.

Click here to book for the screening at the Frontline Club in London on July 25th

And watch the Economist Film Project special on Up in Smoke here.


About the director

Adam Wakeling

Adam Wakeling is a self- taught documentary maker.  He has been involved in a number of short films as a director/writer, an editor for Future Shorts, and has extensive experience in international distribution and co-production.  Up in Smoke is his first foray into full-length documentary production.

“This film is about breathing life into the science of a solution to a critical problem, but moreover about bringing the lives of the forgotten into the limelight.  At a time where obsession with the environment is at a pinnacle, this film will show how attention to the supposedly smallest of details can bring about change that will affect the entire planet.”

Click here for The Inga Foundation, Mike Hands' charity that works to spread the practice of alley-cropping around the world