Friday, May 06, 2016

Saving the world one film at a time: The True Cost & Co

You might wonder why, oh, why I am not posting films I love so often any more. Is it because I'm not watching any? Is it because I don't have the time to talk about them? And if the answer for the above is yes, you will still wonder: is it ever possible for a passionate cinephile to give up on his passion?

Well, the answer is yes and the answer is no at the same time. There has to be something that takes over. Something bigger. Something better.

To cut a long story short, no, I haven't stop watching films, but I watch much less than before, and, dear friends, it's true that I don't find the time to analyse them much, especially in written. Only because I am more concerned with other things, such as changing the world (sic).

So here it goes: lately I have been drawn to films describing or asking for a change. The environmentalist in me, the activist in me, grew stronger and stronger. I watch documentaries that inspire me, that make me part of a global movement for change. A movement that advocates love and respect for our planet, our fellow human beings and everything in between. You can call it the transition movement, or you can give it any other name, but it all boils down to one thing: the need for humanity to stop being reckless with natural resources, whether they are soil, woods, oceans or, why not, workers in the developing countries (this last one being human resources). 

So, here are the four films I've watched over the past months and touched me to the bone. Were they all inspiring? Because, inspiring documentaries are more convincing, you will say. And I will agree with you. Well, they were not all inspiring. I guess at least one of them left me in despair, if I'm allowed to admit that. With a feeling that things might or might not change, and the chances are with the latter. But, you know what? Even this feeling makes you wanna fight to change the unchangeable.

Short reviews follow (films are in the chronological order I've watched them, all in public screenings and with almost full house, which was refreshing to see):

This Changes Everything (2015) based on Naomi's Klein book with the same title covers quite a few examples all over the world of people fighting for the environment. They do not always win, and that's the sad bottom line. Capitalism VS the Environment is the subheading of the book, and, you know what? I have a hard time believing that the environment will win in the end myself. I am not losing hope, though. And, yes, tears were running down my eyes in the sight of the struggles of fellow Greeks in Skouries fighting against Eldorado Gold. God gives us strength (not even sure I believe in you, God, but your help is welcome anyways).

Demain (2015) which means Tomorrow in English is a glorious and feel good French documentary on how we need and how we are changing our ways for the better. Lovely people all over the world are being part of the change with various initiatives: urban agriculture in Detroit, flexible and non-authoritative education in Finland, circular economy practices in San Francisco. The film is wisely divided in chapters that cover Food, Energy, Economy, Democracy, Education and it features an amazing and uplifting soundtrack. This is a family film in my opinion, an easy watch and great inspiration for all; it has won a Cesar (French Oscar) for best documentary and it is the most watched documentary of all times in France.

The Salt of Earth (1954) is an old B & W drama that centers on the transformation of a woman from a housewife to a conscious activist(sic) for women's rights and on the labour-movement. Local miners living in poor conditions are fighting for their rights by going on strike. Do you know what a picket line is? You'd better watch this film, if not. It was produced during the McCarthyism era and was largely boycotted, but it's a tour de force of amateur actors and reminds us how we should not take things for granted. Call me simplistic, but it's true that many struggled and many died during the struggle for labour rights. God bless them (God, here you are again!).

The True Cost (2015) is the documentary closest to my interest at the moment, which is Ethical & Sustainable Fashion. It tackles Fast Fashion, a way of garment production that started being popular already in the 90s, that favours overconsumption. The three seasons and respectively the three collections per year (Spring -Summer, Autumn - Winter and Resort) as we knew them in fashion, cease to exist and relentless production of new clothing items takes over. Popular high street brands become cheaper and cheaper, produce more and more and use marketing to sell an astounding number of clothes; most of them will stay hidden in our wardrobes or will get donated to charity and fill up landfills all over the world. This doc, co-produced by Livia Firth, a major figure in the Slow Fashion movement, covers nicely many facets of the phenomenon and explains why the heck our clothes have become so ridiculously cheap. 

Naturally, the emphasis is on the  biggest work accident that has happened to this day. It was back on 2013 in Dhaka, Bangladesh, when Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed, killing over 1.000 and leaving over 2.400 injured. Poor working conditions, capitalism, over-consumerism, you will get a good helping of all that. I know for myself that things are changing, and it makes me happy, but the film aims to be eye-opening more than hopeful. And it does a good job.

So, what are you waiting for? Go online, pick one of the above and push play! We can all support the change by getting informed in the first place.

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