SXSW FIlm Festival is world-renowned for its ability to introduce new and fresh voices. SXSW Eco is thrilled to present two documentary features selected by SXSW Film to premiere at this year’s festival.The
This post is dedicated to FALL & WINTER, a compelling and beautifully-shot film that journeys across the U.S. in search of what is causing our unfolding global crisis. FALL & WINTER is playing three times during the course of the SXSW Film Festival. The screenings are open to badgeholders, wristband holders and individuals who purchase a ticket at the theater the day of the screening (as capacity allows). Don’t miss this fascinating documentary!
Following is a short interview that SXSW Eco conducted with director Matt Anderson about Fall and Winter and the challenges it addresses.
FALL & WINTER tells a serious story from a variety of perspectives. What inspired you to take on this project and to seek out the many voices in the film?
I went to interview some scientists at a tiny little conference called 'Global Catastrophic Risks' in 2008. It was pretty intense to listen to these really smart people talk about the many threats our civilization faces; things like runaway nanotechnology, techno-fascism and methane plumes being unlocked from arctic permafrost. This is where my thinking about the big threats - the potential icebergs in our path - began.
I was fascinated at how the many brilliant and innovative things we do and create also have a dark reflection… As Paul Virilio points out: you don't invent the plane without also inventing the plane crash! We usually avoid talking about the fact that civilizations have life-spans, and what it costs to operate one. I couldn't help but notice that a number of crises were piling up and demanding our attention. At this point I knew I wanted to confront the shadow aspects of our culture and civilization.
Since it is such an overwhelming topic, I had to keep asking more and more people to understand the many facets of the issues. I visited a wide range of people, and would seek out any new voice that added a pillar to my understanding of the crises. What I didn't expect or plan on was that these questions would lead me to so many meaningful strategies and solutions!
A major storytelling element in the film is the Hopi leader Thomas Banyacya's warning to a (partially empty) United Nations. When did you find this event during the filmmaking process and what do you think your audience can learn from it?
This is a tough one. What I can say is that I was assisted towards this particular speech very late in the process, and it tied the whole project together perfectly. Ironically, we spoke with the United Nations about getting the original footage but they only have partial recordings from this time. 'Officially' it no longer exists…
What I hope that audiences leave with is a deeper respect and interest in not only Native American cultures, but all indigenous peoples. What they have to offer all people is absolutely crucial for human beings' survival.
We are talking about societies that have thrived deep into pre-history. Many of these cultures have deeper understandings about the world and how to live in it than our modern technological worldview. We simply need to listen, because the Hopi have been trying to speak to us.
In this film you show many diverse examples of people taking matters into their own hands, from agriculture to building. How do you see these trends continuing? What do you think impedes local movements?
What I find beautiful is that right now we're seeing people from all walks of life beginning to re-forage ancient skillsets and hybridize them with new and ingenious technologies. We're very clever and resourceful animals. I think in the best of light what we're seeing is the human race expanding consciousness towards a more self-governing way of life; and one that is in better harmony with the natural world. What impedes this is non-thought, fear and non-cooperation.
You demonstrate in your film the efforts of individuals and groups to influence business and society. What efforts or successes (if any) did you come across of change happening on a broad scale?
The most inspiring and best working example of the future I witnessed was in Detroit. We went there to visit with Grace Lee Boggs, and I arrived with preconceived images of a collapsed and depressed city. We certainly found that. But sprouting up in the ruins of industrial Detroit is a beautiful new culture. It really felt like spring had arrived there. In some of the poorest neighborhoods there were lines of people getting free locally grown produce, a young artist had transformed his neglected neighborhood into an artistic playground, and small local businesses and community seemed to be thriving… I think we will be hearing and learning a lot from Detroit in the next decade.
We've spoken about you both wanting to engage the local Austin sustainability movement through this film. How do you think local communities can contribute to the conversation started by Fall and Winter? What would you like them to take away from the film?
What I discovered in traveling across the country making this film is that in every nook and cranny there are amazing and dedicated people already hard at work. I hope that the film can point a larger audience towards these communities, and help to popularize solutions that are already working for many people.
As we voyage deeper into the crises facing our civilization, more and more people will need access to the solutions offered in FALL & WINTER. How humanity manages through these crises absolutely depends on the integrity of every local community and every individual within them. Find people doing something interesting and bring what you have to the table. We're all in this together!
FALL & WINTER has its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival on Monday, March 11 at 4:15PM at the Paramount Theatre. Details and other showtimes can be found at schedule.sxsw.com.
Read about all the events SXSW Eco is taking part in during SXSW here.