If you haven’t been to Netroots Nation, you’re missing out on something spectacular. The annual event draws hordes of progressive activists, organizations, and companies to discuss where the movement has been, where it’s going, and how it can get there. It focuses on strategies and tactics for seeing our ideals actualized in real-world situations. While anyone can talk about change, Netroots likes to give people the tools and motivation to make it happen.

If you’re anywhere near Detroit this week, it’s really worth your while to come to this year’s event.

Among the many panels and presentations, we are proud to say that Keystone PipeLIES Exposed will be featured with two other environmental films in a screening called “Changing the Climate on Climate Change: A Showcase of Films for Environmental Action.”

Executive Producer and CMD/The Progressive’s president Lisa Graves will be joining me, as writer and director of the film, to discuss why we made it, and what we hope to achieve with it.

Also at the screening will be the makers of The Wisdom to Survive: Capitalism, Climate Change and Community, and Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World, and the moderator, comedian and podcast host Matt Filipowicz. He says he hears a lot of frustration from his listeners over inaction to address global warming.

“Frankly, my audience is angry that in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence so little is being done to fight climate change,” he says. “On one side we have Republicans, many of which are ‘flat-earthers’ who deny the science of climate change.  Then on the other hand we have a lot of corporatist Democrats, who say they believe in science and climate change, who at the same time are supporting devastating policies like KXL, fracking, off-shore drilling, you name it.”

One unexpected world leader who has taken global warming on as a personal cause is Prince Charles, who has been a quiet but relentless activist for the cause for many decades.

“We knew very little about The Prince of Wales (Prince Charles) before we were approached to meet with him about a film that he wanted to make,” says Julie Bergman Sender, producer and director of Harmony. “While preparing to go and meet with him, we started to learn more about the incredible work he has done over 30 years as a true visionary and activist on a wide range of issues around climate change. He made a film in 1989 for the BBC, called ‘The Earth in Balance,’ that could have been made yesterday.

“But the film is not about The Prince. It is really about the principles– ideas that center around the idea that the problems are interconnected, and therefore the solutions have to be holistic as well.”

Harmony Movie Trailer from Balcony Films on Vimeo.

The Wisdom to Survive creators Anne Macksoud and John Ankele say they were motivated by the need to build a powerful movement to counter the power of the interests that profit from the status quo.
“Our primary goal is to recruit activists. We need a big movement. And we have to connect existing movements. Some of what we’re showing is hard to watch. Whales being killed. Children starving. We’re urging our audience not to look away: take a good look! You must. Otherwise, you won’t do anything about it. You can’t remain the same, once you know,” they write. “We want to inspire our viewers. Yes, climate change is horrifying. We need to know the facts and their implications, and then take action. You can be fully involved, fully aware, know that your house is on fire, and still be joyful and committed.”

THE WISDOM TO SURVIVE: Climate Change, Capitalism & Community—Trailer from Old Dog Documentaries on Vimeo.

The three films have very different focuses and tones, but they all share a central theme: how we’ve dealt with our environment has had lasting (likely devastating) impact, and we have to make smart choices on how we interact with it moving forward. Using the extraordinary power of film, these documentaries are putting those questions to their audiences, and asking not just for answers, but for commitment to seeing them through.
“Films are the beginning of the conversation. Films alone cannot change anything. But after the film ends– and people are engaged– there is an opportunity to supply the tools and the roadmap to meet people where they are,” Bergman Sender says. “Stories move people and can breathe life into concrete actions. That is the power of film; it gives activists and audiences a single common experience to rally around and take into their own lives and work.”
“There is nothing more powerful than seeing and hearing people telling their stories,” Filipowicz agrees. “Already climate change is affecting tens of thousands of people’s lives.  Having the opportunity to share their experiences allows viewers to empathize with them and create an emotional connection that will hopefully spur them to action.”
The screening will take place this Friday at Detroit’s Cobo Center, room 142C, at 12:15 pm. Day passes are available, with discounts for Michigan residents. We will also be Tweeting about the event using hashtags #NN14 and #NN14films. Follow all of the panelists: @julieis@OldDogDocs@MattFilipowicz@thelisagraves, and @DaveSaldana33.
Untitled 2
The screening will precede a march and rally to protest the obscene termination of water service to poor people in Detroit. As you likely have heard, the city is claiming unpaid bills to justify turning off water to low-income residents for the past several months, while while only recently going after delinquent corporate customers that had continued receiving water service, including golf courses and the State of Michigan. The UN Council on Human Rights has taken up the crisis as a human rights violation.
It’s generally seen as a first step in selling the municipal service to a for-profit corporate entity, privatizing a vital natural resource in one of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas. Ben Ptashnik and Victoria Collier write in The Progressive:
Many Detroiters believe that the aggressive foreclosures and water shutoffs are a deliberate scheme to shock the population, drive longtime residents out of the city center, seize property, and gentrify downtown Detroit and the waterfront. This game-plan was played out in Benton Harbor, Michigan, also forced into emergency management, where corporate vultures grabbed a chunk of the city’s waterfront to build a golf course.
At the screening, the panelists will discuss the many ways Detroit and other underserved communities face environmental degradation in pursuit of corporate profits. The discussion will end promptly at 1:30 so participants can join the rally against the water shut-offs.