K.L. Heong, International Rice Research Institute, Los Baños, Philippines and
Juka Kawaai, Producer, TV for Environment Japan
“Hopper Race” is a short documentary on the rice planthopper problems that have been threatening the sustainability of rice production In Asia. Filming began in 2008 at the opening workshop of the ADB-IRRI Rice Planthopper and was launched at the International Conference on Rice Planthoppers in 2012. The film, produced by TVE Japan in collaboration with ADB and IRRI, tells stories of rice farmers who became victims, suffering from the planthopper related problems: loss in production, loss in income, falling in debt from credit extended by pesticide retailers, poisoning illnesses, fear and even suicides. The 75-minute documentary of 10 chapters is being translated into 8 Asian languages for local distribution and broadcast. In April 2013, Television Vietnam broadcast the film nationwide in Vietnamese.
In May 2013, the organizers of the Yufuin Film Festival in Japan announced that “Hopper Race” has won the prestigious Matsukawa Award for Best Short Documentary. The awarding ceremony will be held in June at the Festival in Yufu, Oita Prefecture in Japan where “Hopper Race” will be screened during the Festival. Each year for the last 30 years, the Festival has been organized to honor producers and films in various categories. The Matsukawa Award was founded in 2008 to commemorate the late Yasuo Matsukawa.
In a parallel initiative, Vinh Long TV, in December 2012, won a gold medal for science education in the Vietnam film festival using the ecological engineering TV series it has produced for the ADB-IRRI Rice Planthopper Project.