Movie inspiring change

By Helen Marie O'Connell

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Helen Marie O'Connell  Photo/File
Helen Marie O'Connell Photo/File

Staying on topic by straying off topic, I will veer from talking about art, as I did last time, to film - or specifically, documentary (film of the "truth-is-stranger-than-fiction" genre).

In the past two years of contributing to this column, many of my words have been motivated by anger and frustration - not uncommon when confronting the unfortunate realities of environmental stewardship in these times.

To quote Johnny Rotten, "anger is an energy", and anger is what is spurring many informed and impassioned citizens to become "accidental" activists worldwide - an encouraging trend.

While I am still appalled by the destructive practices and the inaction and wilful ignorance with which our supposed leaders "govern", my anger has, however, simply run dry.

Even my unending wellspring of disbelief has dissipated.

Energy can, however, be derived from other sources, including the positive feedback loops of creating solutions, as opposed to fighting the problems.

So, in a few weeks' time, I will be presenting four solutions-based documentaries under the banner Future Proof - the first part of the Tall Stories Film Festival - a documentary series in three "acts".

The Future Proof films are intended to inspire change - an antidote to the highly-informative, but often disempowering "doom and gloom" docos, which can sometimes do more harm than good. Sorry, Al Gore, but the "end is nigh - change your lightbulbs" approach just doesn't work for me.

Many of the environmental problems we face are political and driven by economic imperatives, but as politics is a human construction, it stands that these should be solvable by human means.

Despite what the hecklers say, many activists are working on the solutions - just with much smaller audiences and less dramatic stunts - so I am grateful these stories can be told. Our Green Roadie, a mother and son's road trip to find NZ's sustainable stories, showcases 50 Kiwis doing just that.

From Brazil, the aptly titled Who Cares? offers a broad-spectrum introduction to Social Enterprise, an alternative to the often destructive "business-as-usual" practices, mixing the best of intentions with the new means of the digital age - a model that Whanganui seems well placed to embrace.

The Human Scale looks at how our cities shape us, and how we can shape our cities.

Concluding with Christchurch at a crossroads, it is worth viewing as we consider our defining historic, yet quake-prone, buildings - and our trees.

I will speak briefly about the Future Proof films at the next Green Drinks on February 11. Green Drinks is an initiative that simply involved nominating a space to let serendipity take its course over a glass of wine. I hope the stories in Future Proof will inspire and provoke discussion, action and invention, and keep this movement of positive change fully charged.

Helen Marie O'Connell is co-organiser of Whanganui Green Drinks and co-ordinator of the Tall Stories Film Fest 2014 in partnership with the Whanganui Film Society. Info about the festival will be available at whanganuifilmsociety.org.nz. For info on Green Drinks see greendrinks.org/ - /Whanganui

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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