Participant Media/Documentales Univision (2016) | Directed by Juan Mejia Botero & Jake Kheel and Produced by Ben Selkow & Jake Kheel | World Premiere at 2016 Hot Docs International Film Festival & U.S. Premiere at 2016 Seattle International Documentary Festival
A Dominican Republican park ranger’s brutal murder by an alleged Haitian charcoal trafficker opens the way for an investigative journey into the depths and international reaches of the illegal charcoal trade along the Dominican-Haitian border. A tangled web of desperation, maneuvering and corruption worthy of a crime novel, exposes the truth behind the rampant deforestation and kindling large-scale violent human conflict it leaves in its trail. DEATH BY A THOUSAND CUTS is a feature-length documentary film that explores the rapidly changing reality of the remaining forest along the Dominican and Haitian border, illustrating how deforestation cuts across the economic and social fabric of both countries and has far reaching consequences largely unrecognized in either nation. In the eyes of many Dominicans, Haiti’s long history of charcoal production and consumption is the driving force behind the illegal exploitation of Dominican forests. Nonetheless, this documentary uncovers how the lives of Dominicans and Haitians at the border are enveloped in a complex web of relationships that reflect a mutual dependence on the illicit production and trafficking of charcoal. As in most struggles for natural resources, the fight for survival leads to clashes between communities. These clashes come to reflect the struggle for resources at a national and global scale, which when taken to extreme scenarios, as in Rwanda, Darfur and Liberia, can lead to atrocious consequences.