I eagerly was first in line for today’s filmmaker lodge panel at 1pm. Blending with the surreal whirlwind of movie watching, the filmmakers lodge provides opportunity for both filmmaker and public to engage leaders in the filmmaking and surrounding community. These panels are both educational and inspirational for those who aspire to influence those around them with the power of cinema.
The panel discussion was a dichotomous mixture including eye opening clips of chilling effect that juxtaposed the unwavering hope that society has the power to change when we tell a compelling story that motivates social action.
Drew Westen, the moderator, began with a story of a foreclosure victim who he felt represented the common American versus the media coverage of irresponsible masses driving the economy into ruins. This was a foreshadowing of a later point focusing on the power of the story in the wrong hands. Those who are self-serving wield much power through their ability to allocate wealth in promoting propaganda, while others must work hard to tell a more compelling story if we are to succeed in creating social justice on important issues.
Senator Barbara Boxer was the highlight of the panelists. Her connection to the movie “The Invisible War” was important piece of the discussion. This was the first of 3 important documentary films at this festival discussed. The Invisible War covers some unthinkable material. Rape in the military is not something I have ever given thought to but to see the callous disregard by military officers from the one clip shown is motivation to see this film. The fact that women in the military could be treated in such an abhorrent manner was a powerful beginning to the discussion. I look forward to hearing how much social impact this movie will have on legislation and actions in the military.
The next speaker, Margaret Atwood is a prolific author who is linked to a documentary called “Payback”. Payback delves into the world of migrant tomato farmers in Florida. The working conditions are a modern day slavery in some areas. Margaret skillfully brings an eviscerating point of view on today’s establishment that allows such deplorable conditions to exist. Another must see doc Payback is another story that needs to be told in a manner that will help end these illegal and immoral practices. Margaret also pointed out some interesting analogies of our current economic crisis. Her comparison of today’s financial woes to the French revolution was both accurate and prophetic. Te potential for explosively revolutionary change may be sooner than we think. The occupy movement perhaps is just the beginning of larger upheaval.
Finally, we got to Mark Kitchell and his film “A Fierce Green Fire”. His comprehensive story of the environmental movement was lauded by Barbara Boxer who is one of the leading figures for the environmental movement in politics. His 5 things he decided to focus on was an interesting take on the focus films must take to tell their story in a compelling way. This too is a must watch doc. In my opinion (shared largely by panel), the environmental movement is in danger from opposition forces supported by special interests and greedy business practices. The deniers (of climate change) have little science but a loud voice that may well lead to destruction of the planet. Hopefully films like A Fierce Green Fire will catalyze those people who have the authority to stop the destruction ofair, water and land.
Story is and will continue to be the juggernaut force behind social change. It might even save us from destruction of everything we have built. Story is indeed action in words.