I am driven by empathy and consider my films an act of citizenship, a drop of water to help extinguish the fires of destruction around the world. My films are about giving a voice to the rainforest and the victims of deforestation. They are both a tribute to the beauty of the rainforest and its wildlife, and a means of raising awareness of the suffering and loss inflicted by human development, corporate greed and consumerism. Through my films, I try to trigger compassion for animals, respect for the natural world and change in our consumer choices."Patrick Rouxel ’84, Filmmaker for Environmental Conservation
I am an independent filmmaker dedicated to rainforest conservation and animal welfare.
I am driven by empathy and consider my films an act of citizenship, a drop of water to help extinguish the fires of destruction around the world. Through my films, I try to trigger compassion for animals, respect for the natural world and change in our consumer choices.
I am half Swedish, half French and I grew up in Malaysia and Singapore. I joined UWCSEA to complete the IB Diploma, and it was during Project Week in Grade 11 that I first visited and fell in love with the rainforest and its wildlife. I went to an orang-utan release site in Sabah, Borneo, it was the first time I saw orang-utans in the wild, the first time I went deep into the rainforest and slept in a forest hut, and did this alone. While at UWCSEA I had opportunities for discovery that I wouldn’t have had in another school. Thanks to Project Week, I had a glimpse at amazing wilderness, which I never forgot and came back to many years later.
After UWCSEA, I studied Humanities at UC Berkeley in California, then went to medical school in Paris, but decided after three years that it wasn’t for me, and switched to La Sorbonne where I read Comparative Literature. When I was 25, my father died in an accident and I stopped my studies to find a job in cinematographic post-production. I spent 10 years supervising digital special effects for feature films. Then in 2003, I realised that I longed for wilderness and that my dream job would be to make wildlife documentaries. But I was too old to start from the bottom of the ladder, so I bought myself a video camera and went off to Indonesia to make my first film, on my own. This film, Tears of Wood, was quite successful in festivals, so I continued making more.
I spent the next 10 years making documentaries about wildlife and the impact of logging, poaching and deforestation. During this period I travelled throughout Asia, Africa and South America documenting man made environmental impacts. My most successful film is called Green, a silent film which tells the story of a female orangutan who has lost her home, her child and her will to live. The documentary won a number of awards in film festivals around the world and has been broadcast on many television channels.
In 2011, a chance encounter with an orphan sun bear cub in the town of Sintang, West Kalimantan, Indonesia changed the course of my life again. This time I shifted focus to a more personal mission, that of setting free this young bear cub. I ended up spending three years in the forest of Tanjung Putting in Central Kalimantan, reintroducing three cubs to the wild. And ever since, I’ve stuck with the sun bears, dedicating all my time to helping them.
Being with the bear cubs in the rainforest opened my eyes to the suffering of those kept in cages and triggered my commitment to improve the welfare of captive sun bears. I did a film on the plight of the sun bears in Indonesia called Life is One, and I founded a charity called Sun Bear Outreach to raise awareness of sun bears and raise funds to help improve their well being.
Like so much Indonesian wildlife, sun bears are threatened by deforestation and hunting, but very little is done for them and their plight receives no attention. So I’m now trying to fill this void in conservation. I live in Kalimantan building large forest enclosures for sun bears who can’t go back to the wild, improving the lives of captive bears, individual by individual. I have a long way to go…
In the IB Diploma Patrick studied Math, Physics, English B, History, French A and Malay.