A freelance writer and copywriter for over fifteen years, Helene has written for publications and brands all over the world and couldn’t imagine herself in any other job. A shameless film freak, her first onscreen experience involved a trip to Avondale’s Hollywood Theatre at the age of five to see Yul Brynner in The Ultimate Warrior and she hasn’t looked back since. A big fan of documentaries, she has interviewed subjects as diverse as Henry Rollins, Jimmy Choo and Beyonce Knowles, and also has her own beauty blog - which can be found at www.mshelene.com - for the purpose of raving about red lipstick, big hair and other essential indulgences.

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Film Fess by Helene Ravlich

25 Latest News Articles

TIME TO CHOOSE – so which side are you on?

Posted on Thursday 22/06/2017 June, 2017 by

After reviewing the series of quality environmentally-themed documentaries that have been appearing on Rialto Channel over the past few weeks I have to say: it’s a popular subject right now. And with good reason. With all the deniers and corporates still waging war against environmental reforms, there probably can’t be too many of these films being made, so bring it on.

It is Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Charles Ferguson’s (INSIDE JOB, NO END IN SIGHT) turn to point his lens at the worldwide climate change challenges in tonight’s film, TIME TO CHOOSE. It treads some familiar ground but also offers new insights that make the sometimes-info heavy film well worth the time spent on the couch.

(Pictured Above: Filmmaker Charles Ferguson and Musician Michael Stipe at the New York Screening of TIME TO CHOOSE.)

I was interested to read that Ferguson has a background in academia and also technology, and that in 1996 he became an Internet multi-millionaire when he sold his web development company to Microsoft. This means that he works with a freedom of economy (BIG budgets) that most documentary making teams don’t have, and he can talk about whatever he damn well pleases! And talk he does… His academic background means that at times tonight’s film does feel a little like a lecture, but it’s a vital one.

Ferguson narrows his focus in the film on the main crises he feels are facing Planet Earth right now, as in: coal and oil production, urban sprawl, deforestation, and the industrialisation of agriculture. It could all get a bit tough going if it wasn’t for the absolutely superb cinematography, which is one of the things that I’m assuming the director’s bigger budget allows. Ferguson filmed all over the world, and the breathtaking natural vistas poignantly underscore what we all have to lose if we choose to ignore what is going on out there. On the flipside, the director and his rather brave crew also managed to get right in the middle of destroyed forests and polluted cities, even filming without permits in China and Indonesia, two of the countries responsible for our world’s worst pollution levels.

Featuring narration by award-winning actor Oscar Isaac, TIME TO CHOOSE leaves audiences understanding not only what is wrong, but also what can to be done to fix the global threat. Ferguson explores the scope of the climate change crisis and examines the power of solutions already available through the stories of some inspiring individuals. Californian Governor Jerry Brown gets top marks from Ferguson – and me! - for encouraging solar and wind power and eliminating most fossil fuel production, whilst one innovative company in China has introduced wind power on an impressively large scale. Solar power has made major headway in Kenya, whilst in Curtiba, Brazil, former Mayor Jaime Lerner pioneered a Bus Rapid Transit system, since copied in 180 other cities (including, to a limited extent, Los Angeles) that is as efficient as a subway and 50 times less expensive. Better public transport means fewer cars on the road, a lesson that Auckland could take a few key points from.

Indeed one of the film’s true strengths is that it is not all doom and gloom, as Ferguson points out these number of positive steps that have been taken in many countries to implement change, even cautiously suggesting that it will not be impossible to reverse the environmental crisis.

One of the low points on the film for me was actually Oscar Isaac’s delivery, which really surprised me! He is a more than competent actor, but it appears that voice over work requires a very different set of skills that he hasn’t quite nailed yet. However, at 99 minutes and packed with beautiful imagery and positive energy, TIME TO CHOOSE is a more than decent watch.

TIME TO CHOOSE premieres on Thursday 22 June on Rialto Channel.

Click here to remote record


HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD: “eco freaks” to the rescue

Posted on Thursday 15/06/2017 June, 2017 by

In 1971, a group of friends sailed into a nuclear test zone, and their protest captured the world's imagination. That ragtag bunch of Vancouver-based “eco-freaks” soon went on to be famous all around the world as the organisation Greenpeace, as the group improvised their way into starting a global movement.

That global movement really hit home for me as a young ‘un when it bought an act of terrorism to my hometown. The sinking of the Rainbow Warrior, codenamed Operation Satanic (AKA Opération Satanique), was a bombing operation by the "action" branch of the French foreign intelligence services, the Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure (DGSE), carried out on July 10, 1985. During the operation, two operatives sank the flagship of the Greenpeace fleet, the Rainbow Warrior in the port of Auckland, on its way to a protest against a planned French nuclear test in Mururoa. Fernando Pereira, a photographer and dad, drowned on the sinking ship.

France initially denied responsibility, but two French agents were captured by New Zealand Police and charged with arson, conspiracy to commit arson, willful damage, and murder. As the truth came out, the scandal resulted in the resignation of the French Defence Minister Charles Hernu. On the twentieth anniversary of the sinking, it was revealed that the French president François Mitterrand had personally authorised the bombing. The act of terrorism horrified New Zealand but also galvanised our love of the Greenpeace organisation. It’s a group dear to many of our hearts, and in the era of climate change denial and the like, is still as important today as it was in the early seventies.

But onto tonight’s documentary, HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD. Largely told through 16mm footage from a vast organisational archive of some 1,500 film cans that this documentary just begins to tap, Jerry Rothwell’s film focuses primarily - and effectively - on the human dynamics of the group, particularly the role of late leader Bob Hunter. Hunter was a Vancouver Sun reporter whose intense interest in environmental issues landed him at the centre of the original group, which was made up of hippies, draft dodgers, the spiritually enlightened, fishermen and freaks. The name “Greenpeace” was designed more for writing on banners than anything else at first, as the loose crew of activists planned a disruption of President Nixon’s planned five-megaton nuclear explosion test on the Alaskan island of Amchitka. Though the test happened in late 1971 anyway, the eco freaks focused so much negative attention on it that the U.S. cancelled all further such activities there.

Buoyed by their early success and inspired by marine scientist Paul Spong (who had been astonished by his findings in researching orca intelligence), they decided to direct a new campaign against offenders in the appallingly unlawful world of whale hunting. When their crew of 13 finally found some Russian whaling vessels off the Northern California coast (after consulting the I Ching as to whether they should give up the search), they immediately realised these seagoing “slaughterhouses” were flaunting international law by killing undersized and immature whales. The dramatic footage shot on this and subsequent voyages kicked off the whole Save the Whales movement still so much in evidence today.

As the group’s profile rose and new chapters emerged around the world, egos started to fly in the face of Hunter’s original direction, and so too the infighting and disillusionment that informs the latter part of this super compelling doco. Hunter, who returned to his career in environmental journalism with a new, heightened profile before dying of cancer in 2005, found himself caught between others’ conflicting notions of Greenpeace’s mission. Today his second-in-commands control the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and an environmental corporate-consulting firm, and it appears that the original organisation is back on steady feet.

My favourite part of the film is the aforementioned old footage of the group in its early days, which seemed full of fun and excitement and positivity that even the “little guy” can make a difference. These were the pioneers who defined the modern green movement in action, and in these times, an effective call to arms if ever there was one.

HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD premieres Thursday 15 June at 8.30pm on Rialto Channel

Click here for the trailer

Click here to remote record

Just over a week ago, US President – and Orange Mephistopheles - Donald Trump announced that the United States would be withdrawing from the Paris Accord, much to the dismay of 99.9 percent of intelligent people out there. Echoes of dismay were heard far and wide, and it seemed like the future of Planet Earth was moving ever closer to disaster.

FRACKMAN: what is fracking, and why should you care?

Posted on Thursday 1/06/2017 June, 2017 by

A FLICKERING TRUTH: highlighting the importance of film

Posted on Thursday 25/05/2017 May, 2017 by

MONTEREY, the little café that could

Posted on Thursday 18/05/2017 May, 2017 by

TICKLED AND THE TICKLE KING – is this really the end?

Posted on Wednesday 10/05/2017 May, 2017 by

THE SOUND OF HER GUITAR, the life of Donna Dean

Posted on Thursday 4/05/2017 May, 2017 by

EMBRACE – stop hating your body, start living your life

Posted on Thursday 27/04/2017 April, 2017 by

On BARISTA… and the coffee geek as rockstar

Posted on Thursday 20/04/2017 April, 2017 by
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