The Burning Season follows Australian environmental entrepreneur Dorjee Sun as he travels around the world, trying to make a major carbon trading deal that will protect rainforest in Indonesia, slow the eradication of the orangutan, and make him a lot of money.
Writer-director-producer Cathy Henkel keeps the focus primarily on Sun's efforts, as he jets from country to country looking for investors, ending up at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali where his deal hangs in the balance.
Sun's success with corporate investors hinges not just on the internal politics of Indonesia, but upon the global community (including the United States) signing onto a new agreement on climate change that will protect the forests.
Henkel also explores the environmental and economic impact of deforestation, following an Indonesian subsistence palm oil farmer, Achmadi, as he tries to figure out how he will feed his family without burning down the forests to clear the land he needs to farm.
Henkel also spends time on a preserve run by Lone Droscher-Nielsen, who has devoted her life to caring for orangutans displaced by deforestation until they can be safely placed back in the wild. An earlier version of The Burning Season had its International Premiere in the World Documentary Competition of the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival.