Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My review of Just Do It!

I went to Swansea Met University to watch the Climate change activism movie Just Do It! last night. A mixed audience of students, die hard activists, lecturers and various members of the public took our seats (popcorn supplied) for the 90min movie.

According to the movies website
'Just Do It lifts the lid on climate activism and the daring troublemakers who have crossed the line to become modern-day outlaws. Documented over a year, Emily James' film follows these activists as they blockade factories, attack coal power stations and glue themselves to the trading floors of international banks despite the very real threat of arrest.'

I had seen rough cuts of the movie so I was looking forward to seeing how the movie ended up. By the end of the movie I didn't feel like leaping into action, despite the film being aimed at inspiring people to do just that. I asked everyone else in the room how they felt and we started a lively discussion.It appeared that no-one else felt very inspired- in fact most felt the opposite.

The movie takes us on a journey of white middle class activists (mostly in their 20's) as they take direct action to avert climate change chaos. Some scenes give a rarely seen insight into the world behind actions, the movie climaxed in Copenhagen at the UN Climate Change summit with nearly 1000 people being arrested by violent police and locked in cages. The movie reflected the activists sense of disempowerment and this is generally what stayed with the audience until the end of the film.

The title cards at the end, stating that the Heathrow's 3rd runway was shelved and the Kingsnorth coal station was stopped felt like throw away lines rather than celebrations of victory. If the ending was re-edited, it could have lifted the audiences feeling that resistance seems pretty futile in the end. The activists conclusion came that climate change is not the real issue- it is Capitalism.

Making climate change films with uplifting endings is pretty difficult. The Age of Stupid left myself (and the activists) I saw it with feeling depressed about the future. However it did have shock value which perhaps has awoken people into action. I don't envy anyone making films about climate change as I made a film about climate and aviation and concluded that the larger picture looks really bleak despite activism winning some small victories.

I asked the environment students in the room if they would take direct action to stop climate change after seeing Just Do it! and they all, bar one said No! One young woman even said the 'protesters were wasting police time most of the time'! Oh dear- it has ended up more like 'Just don't do it!'.

I think one of the main problems in the film is that the activists portrayed are too close to each other in terms of education and appearance. Even the narrator is an activist so there is no room for any other voices in the film. So the movie implies that; unless you agree with the activists, this film is not for you.

However as with Age of Stupid, the real power of Just Do it! is in creating useful debate and discussion like the one we had that night. It may lack a diversity of voices/ages/backgrounds/overview of the issues but it is a useful record of the vibrant Climate Camp movement.

The Just Do It crew have worked damn hard at getting their film seen. As an avenue for discussing climate activism, the film is a powerful resource and the work gone into hosting screenings all over the UK has to be applauded.
The DVD is now out and you can see it near you. Check here

Undercurrents is an award winning alternative news service producing videos of people taking inspiring actions.

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