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.

group of people in orange shirts march together
Independent Lens
Premiere Date
June 28, 2021
90 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call
Headshot of filmmaker Alan Adelson

Alan Adelson

Alan Adelson (Director, Producer, Writer) has overlapping careers in documentary film and investigative journalism. Adelson produced and co-directed Lodz Ghetto (1988) with Kate Taverna. The documentary was shortlisted for the Academy Award Best Documentary Oscar. The filmmaker couple also produced and directed Two Villages in Kosovo (2006) Show more for Arte, and the widely acclaimed In Bed with Ulysses (2012). 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

filmmaker Kate Taverna

Kate Taverna

Kate Taverna (Director, Producer, Editor) has co-directed and edited four documentaries with Adelson. Taverna has edited more than 50 independent feature documentaries, shorts and broadcast films over a career spanning more than 35 years for PBS, Arte, BBC, HBO, A&E, IFC and global broadcasters. Asylum (2004) and Killing in the Name (2011) Show more were both Academy Award nominees in the Best Short Documentary category. Pray the Devil Back to Hell won Best Documentary at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival and led to a Nobel Prize being awarded to its central protagonist, Leymah Gbowee. Show less

Filmmaker headshot, Veronique Bernard

Veronique Bernard

Véronique Bernard (Producer, Writer) is an award-winning independent non-fiction film and television producer, director, and senior executive with more than 30 credits whose experience includes WNET Culture & Arts Documentaries, Sundance Channel Original Programming, New York Times Television, National Geographic Television, ABC News Show more Productions, and PBS, with documentaries such as E2: The Economies of Being Environmentally Conscious (2009,) Art In The Twenty-First Century (2016) and Enter The Faun (2017.) Show less

We fund untold stories for public media.

Learn more about funding opportunities with ITVS.

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.