The People vs. Agent Orange

Two women, one American and one Vietnamese, fight to hold the chemical industry accountable for the devastation caused by Agent Orange and other toxic herbicides.

Independent Lens
Premiere Date
June 28, 2021
90 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call

Alan Adelson

Alan Adelson (Director, Producer, Writer) has overlapping careers in documentary film and fiction and non-fiction writing.  His film credits include One Survivor Remembers (HBO), European Production Coordinator, winner of the Best Short Documentary Oscar and three Emmy Awards.  As producer, co-director and writer teaming up with Kate Taverna: Lodz Ghetto, Show more (PBS, Channel Four, 9 other countries) short-listed for Best Feature Length Documentary Oscar, 1989, winner, International Film Critics Prize, 8 international film festivals; Two Villages in Kosovo, 2006, (ARTE, France and Germany, and RTE, Ireland). Adelson made worldwide headlines with his investigative articles in Esquire and The Wall Street Journal revealing the disappearance of enriched plutonium from an American nuclear reprocessing plant. Show less


Kate Taverna

Kate Taverna (Director, Producer, Editor) has edited more than 50 independent feature docs, shorts and broadcast films over a career spanning more than 35 years for PBS, ARTE, BBC, HBO, A&E, etc.  Asylum (2004) and Killing in the Name (2011) were both Academy Award nominees in Best Short Documentary category. Pray the Devil Back to Hell won Best Show more Documentary at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival.  The 2014 feature documentary, She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry won the audience award at the Boston Independent Film Festival, was translated into 22 languages and available on Netflix. Co-directing and producing with Alan Adelson, Taverna also edited the 2012 feature documentary In Bed with Ulysses, which had a nationwide theatrical run; the 2006 ARTE broadcast Deux Villages au Kosovo, as well as the 1989 Lodz Ghetto, an award-winning feature documentary shown at Sundance, Berlin, Yamagata, and film festivals throughout the world as well as a nationwide theatrical run, then aired on PBS. Show less


Veronique Bernard

Véronique Bernard (Producer) is an independent non-fiction film and television producer, director and senior executive whose experience includes WNET Culture & Arts Documentaries, Sundance Channel Original Programming, New York Times Television, National Geographic Television, ABC News Productions and SBS Television in Australia where Show more she was Head of Production. Recent credits include doc series E2: The Economies of Being Environmentally Conscious (PBS/Sundance, Grantham Prize for Excellence in Environmental Journalism Award of Merit 2009,) French feature doc co-production The Man Who Invented Himself: Duane Michals (Special Mention Prize International Festival of Film on Art FIFA 2013,) science series Redesign My Brain (ABC Australia, Science Channel, Discovery International 2012, 2014,) PBS series Art in the Twenty-First Century (2016), feature docs Enter The Faun (America Reframed, 2017,) The People vs. Agent Orange (Independent Lens, Arte,) Chasing Childhood and Still Not Equal (2020-21.) She teaches in the Integrated Media Arts MFA program at Hunter College. Show less

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The Film

The dioxins present in Agent Orange, the defoliant used in the Vietnam War, continue to leave a legacy of death, deformity, and disability for generations. This investigative documentary includes painstaking historical research and interviews with whistleblowers, researchers, and the people who have lived through contact with the poison in both Vietnam and the United States. The film follows Vietnamese activist Tran To Nga, who, in a French court, is suing the American chemical industry for poisoning her and her family in Vietnam. And in Oregon, Carol Van Strum battles to stop the ongoing spraying of toxins by the timber industry. Both women, joined in their mutual pain, resist intimidation and threats, bringing to light the ongoing, intergenerational catastrophe of chemical warfare and toxic herbicides.