Directors Journal: Andrew Nisker

February 2008
The process of collecting interviews begins in 2008 during a trip to Vietnam. At the time, I was introduced to a family whose members suffered from the inter-generational effects of Agent Orange Exposure. My guide then took me to visit a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City where I was introduced to dozens of children born with mental and physical abnormalities. Their doctor informed me the children where grandchildren (3rd generation) of those exposed to Agent Orange and that they only represent a fraction of over a half million children born with similar Agent Orange related issues.

Their stories were representative of a nation suffering from an enduring and horrific legacy of war. My intention was to include their stories in my documentary about the environmental impact of chemicals we use day to day to clean our homes and bodies. Although there is a definitive connection between the impact of chemical exposure and human and environmental health, I personally found the story I documented in Vietnam too disturbing to include in Chemerical (www.chemicalnation.com). So, their stories were left on the cutting room floor.

February  2011

Almost four years later this newspaper article came to my attention which made me realize Agent Orange wasn’t just a chemical used in Vietnam; it was sprayed throughout the province I live in. The article stated “ in one 12-year period, the power company dropped enough chemicals in Ontario to cover a 30-metre-wide swath travelling “four-fifths the distance around the world.”

November 2011- January 2012

Having met and shared the story with archivist and picture editor Maureen Grant we devised a plan to tell the story of international Agent Orange exposure using “stock footage”, voices and sounds. Having little budget to work with, Maureen created a tapestry of images and sounds as the interviews were mainly conducted and recorded through Skype. One interview lead to the next as the international story of Agent Orange began to unfold.