The People Vs. Agent Orange
The People Vs. Agent Orange
The People Vs. Agent Orange
The People Vs. Agent Orange

The People Vs. Agent Orange

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    • Directed by: Alan Adelson, Kate Taverna & Véronique Bernard
    • Released: 2021 (educational)
    • Year of Production: 2020
Running Time: 87 min
Language: English, Vietnamese
Subtitle Options: English Closed Captions
Subjects: Physical and Mental Health, Environmental Studies


Nearly 60 years following the use of Agent Orange in the Vietnam War—the deadliest use of chemical warfare in history—the devastating aftereffects of the toxin remain lethal, demanding attention both in Vietnam and at home in America. The People vs. Agent Orange closely follows two activists as they take on the chemical industry, and demand accountability for the pernicious legacy caused by the use of this poisonous herbicide.

French-Vietnamese activist Tran To Nga and American activist Carol Van Strum are joined in mutual pain and purpose in their quest for justice. Tran spent seven years building a legal case against the American chemical industry for poisoning her and her family in Vietnam—causing severe health issues and deformity—after 12 million gallons of the toxic herbicide were used there by the American military in the ’60s and ’70s. Stateside in Oregon, Carol Van Strum fights intimidation and threats by timber interests as she brings to light damning corporate documentation of the deadly impacts of the chemical 24D, even as it was widely used in her community, with no public consultation or warnings.

The People vs. Agent Orange unites these two activists nearly halfway around the world from each other, both equally passionate and righteous in their causes, in a staggering examination of corruption for which there has been no accountability.

PBS Independent Lens Broadcast & JURY AWARD winner of the Eugene Environmental Film Festival 2020
Recipient of the 2021 OAH Erik Barnouw award
"With The People vs. Agent Orange, directors Alan Adelson and Kate Taverna have meticulously combed archives and thoroughly researched footage, documents, data, companies, reports, and so much more to compile an informative, not to mention, extremely educational film. Through countless interviews with whistleblowers, historians, and people who have survived Agent Orange, the filmmakers craft a searing portrait of unchecked government oversight and corporate greed at the expense of people’s lives." Film Threat

‘The People vs. Agent Orange is a very well-made film. A storytelling of the destinies of two women cleverly unfolds before your eyes.’ – Les Soirées de Paris 

“The People vs. Agent Orange” has a gripping urgency, especially as a reminder that the history of chemicals’ effects on our bodies is still being written and fought over, and that what a secretive industry is allowed to cover up, it will." - Los Angeles Times

"…the documentary plays out like a Hollywood spy thriller, noting shady business practices, government cover-ups, thinly-veiled threats against the families of activists, guerrilla tactics, theft, and surveillance….A compelling and powerful investigative documentary, The People vs. Agent Orange is a shocking wake-up call that sheds light on environmental and human catastrophe that should not be missed.” —RACHEL WEST — ALLIANCE OF WOMEN FILM JOURNALISTS

“Meticulously researched… The People Versus Agency Orange travels to three continents and investigates 50 years of corruption and cover-up to reveal how this devastating weapon of mass destruction was quietly brought back to the US to write a new chapter in a long history of human misery.” — GAR SMITH, Berkeley Daily Planet

“The People vs Agent Orange is a quiet, composed film that never grows angry. But so comprehensive and scathing is the information presented that, by the finale, viewers should be incensed beyond belief.” -JAMES VAN MAANEN, Trust Movies


"...Informative... Extremely Educational" - Film Threat

About the filmmakers

Alan Adelson: Director, Producer, Writer

Alan Adelson works in both film and print. His film and television credits include: European production coordinator on One Survivor Remembers, (HBO,) 1995,  winner of the Best Short Documentary Oscar and three Emmy Awards.  As producer, co-director and writer: Lodz Ghetto, (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, RTE), and In Bed With Ulysses, 2012.   The People vs. Agent Orange won the Jury Award in the 2020 Eugene Environmental Film Festival and the Organization of American Historians 2021 Erik Barnouw award.  Adelson made worldwide headlines with his investigative articles in Esquire and the Wall Street Journal revealing the disappearance of enriched plutonium from a nuclear reprocessing plant.


Kate Taverna: Director, Producer, Editor

Taverna edited, produced and co-directed In Bed with Ulysses as well as co-directed and edited the feature length Lodz Ghetto, both of which had nationwide theatrical releases.  Adelson and Taverna also collaborated on Two Villages in Kosovo for ARTE France and Germany, and RTE Ireland.  Taverna has edited more than 50 films over her career:  Asylum and  Killing in the Name were Academy award nominees in Best Short Documentary category in 2004 and 2011 respectively.   The feature length Pray the Devil Back to Hell won Best Documentary award at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival.   She's Beautiful When She's Angry won the Audience award at the 2014 Boston Independent film festival, released theatrically nationwide and globally on Netflix.  Los Sures, a film she edited in 1984, premiered at the NY Film Festival that year and was re-programmed again in 2014, then went on to a nationwide theatrical release.



Véronique Bernard (Producer, Writer) is an award-winning 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, PBS and SBS Television in Australia where she was Head of Production. Recent credits include doc series E2: The Economies of

Being Environmentally Conscious (2009,) The Man Who Invented Himself: Duane Michals (2013,) Art in the Twenty-First

Century (2016), Enter The Faun (2017,) Chasing Childhood (2020) and Game Changer (2021.) She teaches in the Integrated Media Arts MFA program at Hunter College and is on the Board of the Documentary Producers Alliance.



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