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The Fires Project - A Teacher's Mission

Chrétien Schouteten, a retired chemistry teacher, has spent most of his career being concerned about chemists’ responsibilities towards society. A scientist’s knowledge is a powerful tool that can serve many purposes, but what is the value of science to humanity without ethics? Long before the signature of the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Nobel Peace Prize, Mr. Schouteten was already sensitizing his pupils to the issue of ethics and chemistry, challenging them to imagine what they would do if their knowledge were demanded not for noble causes, but for evil purposes.
To address a wider audience on this theme, Schouteten wrote a theatrical play about the life of Fritz Haber, the father of modern chemical warfare who also won the Nobel Prize for inventing the synthesis of ammonia – an invention that enabled the mass production of fertilizers and has fed the world ever since.
Schouteten’s enduring aim is to create awareness about the potential misuse of chemistry. A contemporary issue, not buried in the past, but one that engages and affects all.

  • Eric Vander Borght
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short, Web / New Media
  • Genres:
    War, Anti-War, Chemical Weapons, History, Education, Social Issues, Documentary
  • Runtime:
    17 minutes 27 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    April 7, 2014
  • Country of Origin:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Eric Vander Borght

Eric Vander Borght produces documentaries and corporate films.

30+ years of experience as independent producer, producer, cameraman, editor with/for:
OPCW • UNDP • United Nations • UNICEF • WTO • ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) • European Commission • Handicap International • All-TV • Belgian TV-RTBF/VRT • ARTE • TF1 • Radio Canada • NOS • Swiss TV-TSR and more

Consultant/coach to companies and film-directors on film-making and technical requirements.

Films directed/produced include

FIRES, A Teacher’s Mission
17 minutes
FIRES, Ich liebe Dich
24 minutes
FIRES, Buried Memories
25 minutes
FIRES, A Staff Trip
6 minutes
FIRES, Which Side Do You Belong To
18 minutes

God’s Footprint
26 minutes; a musical portrait of Madagascar; with Sylvain Van Holme
Pas de frontière pour les poissons (Fish without Frontiers)
52 and 26 minutes; portraits of French and Swiss customs officials in a small frontier village on the shores of Lake Geneva
Vanna's New Life
26 minutes; a portrait of Vanna, a young Cambodian girl who survived a landmine blast
52 minutes; continuation of Vanna's portrait, filmed during one year
The Strength of Angels
1h20; full version of the above

Father Unknown (street children in Kingston, Jamaica)
Journey to the Centre of the Earth (men of Lesotho)
Black Women’s White Gold (women of Lesotho)
Women’s Stories (Tunisia in the Feminine)
Peace According to Husnieh (economic development in Palestine)
The Living Fields (working conditions in Cambodia)
Moon Walking (about mine-clearance expert Chris Moon)
A Profitable Business (micro credit in Cambodia)
The Mediator Monk (a Buddhist monk works with the UN)
After the Storm (mine clearance in Cambodia)
Carmen's Dance (Carmen Zubiaga helps the Cambodian disabled)

Films on which Eric worked as a creative consultant to the director include

Episode III, Enjoy Poverty by Renzo Martens (chosen to open the IDFA; Prix Ruban Canards, RIDM, Montreal; Flemish Culture Prize for Film; Stimulus Award, Dutch Filmfund, Amsterdam; etc.)
War Photographer by Christian Frei (Oscar nominee)
Tu ne verras pas Verapaz by An Van Dienderen and Didier Volckaert (Best Henri Storck documentary)
Josh's Trees by Peter Entell (Grand Prix du Jury, Montreal Film Festival).

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Director Statement

The FIRES Project is all about transmission — like fires spread
Fire was the first chemical process mastered by humans. It is a source of well-being but also of destruction. Transmission of fears, transmission of knowledge, transmission of awareness… They all are fires burning and growing through history and generations, linking the past to the present.
Through captivating personal stories, which most of us can relate to, the Fires Project questions the spreads of feelings, like traumas, and ideas related to war and weaponry.

Fires are used to fight fire
The Fires Project also shows spreading of positive feelings, concrete actions and prevention to combat and eliminate chemical weapons.

Spread the Fires!
The films are freely available online to be used by anyone. Their length varies from 10 to 30 min. and are designed to be aired, projected, and shared — online and in the real world. To be used for broadcast, academics, NGOs, or simply at home.
A participatory experience, the project itself is like a fire, spreading out to its audience, who are invited to disseminate and give constructive input.

FIRES is a project of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
The FIRES Project is meant to draw public attention to the importance of issues of disarmament by showing personal stories of ordinary people.