Award-winning author and cultural icon Alice Walker called tonight’s environmentally focused documentary, THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING “a film that brings our peril into focus and what we might learn from despair”. It’s the last in the series of films showing on Rialto Channel that deal pretty much exclusively with the topic of climate change and the destruction of Planet Earth, and is a fitting way to end what has been one hell of a lot of info to process.
Directed by Avi Lewis, THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING is based on Naomi Klein’s bestselling book of the same name, and opens with a confession from the author: “I’ve always kind of hated films about climate change…”. She goes on to list their faults: they’re boring, they’re presumptive, they always, always include shots of polar bears, and she aims to play a role in creating something very different.
Filmed over 211 shoot days in nine countries and five continents over an exhausting four years, THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING really is an epic attempt to re-imagine the vast challenge of climate change. The film presents several portraits of communities on the front lines, from Montana’s Powder River Basin to the Alberta Tar Sands, from Southern India to Beijing, and aims to wake us up as well as inspire.
Klein’s narration threads throughout the stories of the communities in crisis, effectively connecting the carbon in the air with the economic system that put it there. The idea-meets-solution that she offers up along the way is pretty much thus: maybe we can use the crisis that is climate change for good, to transform our failed economic system into something radically better.
The main strength of the film for me lies in the personalities that we meet along the way, who include:
Crystal - a young indigenous leader in Alberta fighting for access to a restricted military base in search of answers about what is clearly an environmental disaster in progress.
Mike and Alexis - Montana goat ranchers who see their dreams coated in oil from a broken pipeline and form an alliance with the Northern Cheyenne tribe to bring solar power to the nearby reservation.
Melachrini - a housewife in Northern Greece where economic crisis is being used to justify mining and drilling projects that threaten the mountains, seas, and tourism economy.
Jyothi - a matriarch in India who battles fiercely along with her fellow villagers to fight a proposed coal-fired power plant that will destroy a life-giving wetland.
The film has been criticised for just being one damning polemic after another on the impact of the Western world and its progress, leading the likes of you and me to feel a bit shit, really, and a lot powerless. It aims to be accessible to even the most climate-fatigued viewers, and at times it is, and although it’s not the best of the docos we have seen over the last few weeks it's still worth a watch. The cinematography alone is worth the time on the couch, and the aforementioned people that we get to meet are truly inspiring. If they can find the energy to act whilst literally living in the eye of the storm then so can we. So what are you waiting for?
THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING premieres Thursday 29 June at 8.30pm on Rialto Channel
Click here for the trailer
Click there to remote record