Once the domain of international NGOs like CUSO or Peace Corps, overseas volunteering has privatized and gone mainstream, attracting millions of young travellers. Volunteers Unleashed follows volunteers to South America, Southeast Asia and Africa, showing how "voluntourism" has become the fastest growing and the most controversial travel sector.
Leading this story is 22-year-old Pippa Biddle, who after a series of voluntourism experiences over six years posted a critical blog. It went viral with over 15 million hits, and instantly launched her as the poster child against privileged young white women volunteering overseas.
In Tanzania we follow a new intake of western volunteers as they travel, party and volunteer. Among them are untrained medical volunteers, eager for experience, who tackle procedures beyond their training or ability, potentially putting a patient's life at risk.
In Cambodia, former U.K. Police Detective Eric Meldrum and investigative reporter Juliana Ruhfus show the link between the volunteers working in orphanages, and the exploitation of the very children they have come to help. In an Ecuador animal refuge, we see a profit-driven voluntourism company preying on volunteers' good intentions.
Volunteers Unleashed shows dramatically that going overseas with good intentions, does not guarantee good will be done.
Inspired by his daughter Jennica's life-changing experience as a volunteer in Tanzania in 2012, Vancouver filmmaker Brad Quenville (The Dolphin Dealer, Ice Pilots, Pyros, Highway Thru Hell) went back to Africa with his daughter and DOP Kyle Sandilands to shoot and develop the documentary. Volunteers Unleashed is directed, produced and written by Brad Quenville.
Written, Directed and Produced by
Director of Photography
Fixer: Ryan Hood-Taylor
YanaCocha Animal Reserve
Archival Material Courtesy of
Maps Courtesy of
VISUAL EARTH: NASA
Produced with the assistance of
With the participation of the Province of British Columbia
Film Incentive BC
Q CAMERA PRODUCTIONS INC.
In association with the
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
© Q Camera Productions Ltd. 2015
For Doc Zone