2015 Sundance Docs in Focus: HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD

how to change the worldThe second half of the 2015 Sundance World Cinema Documentary Competition sees the world premiere of Jerry Rothwell’s Day One film HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD, from the UK/Canada, an exploration of the origins of Greenpeace.

Sundance Program Description:

Before it was the world’s largest activist organization, Greenpeace was the love child of an eclectic group of Vancouver neighbors (journalists, scientists, and hippies). United in their opposition to a US atomic test on an Alaskan island, they sailed an aging fishing boat straight for the test site. Armed only with cameras and faith in the power of images, the rainbow warriors were born.

The byproduct of their media savvy is an archival treasure trove from which Jerry Rothwell has constructed a gripping chronicle of Greenpeace’s early history. Remarkable footage, audio recordings, and photographs capture its most dramatic, iconic, and poignant moments, from the remnants of mass slaughter at an abandoned whaling station to the maneuvering of Zodiacs between the whales and Russian harpoons.

HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD unfolds as a hippie heist movie-turned-high sea adventure but remains an intimate portrait of the group’s original members and of activism itself – idealism vs pragmatism, principle vs compromise. They agreed that a handful of people could change the world; they just couldn’t agree how to do it.

Some Background:
Jerry Rothwell has received Sundance Documentary Film Program support for this and for his previous projects TOWN OF RUNNERS and DONOR UNKNOWN, as well as the 2013 Sundance Institute/TED Prize Filmmaker Award for LIKE WHIRLWINDS. His directorial debut, DEEP WATER, was co-directed with fellow 2015 World Cinema Documentary Competition director Louise Osmond (DARK HORSE). Producers for the project are Met Film Production’s Al Morrow and Daniel Films’ Bous De Jong, with Met’s Jonny Persey and Stewart Le Marechal executive producing with Insight Productions’ John Brunton and Barbara Bowlby; Guerilla Films’ David Wilkinson; Impact Partners’ Dan Cogan and Jenny Raskin, also represented at this year’s festival by SEMBENE!, THE HUNTING GROUND, DREAMCATCHER, CHUCK NORRIS VS COMMUNISM, and CENSORED VOICES; Ian Darling (HELL AND BACK AGAIN (2011) co-executive producer); BSkyB’s Lorraine Charker-Phillips; and BFI Film Fund’s Lizzie Francke (also behind this year’s DARK HORSE and ’71) and her late colleague Chris Collins.

Why You Should Watch:
A treasure trove of breathtaking, in-the-moment archival material allows Rothwell to place the viewer alongside the intrepid, motley crew of the nascent Greenpeace as they set off, somewhat naively, to make a stand in support of the natural world – with unexpected, worldwide success. If their life-or-death missions don’t sufficiently ramp up the tension for the audience, the friction between their wildly contrasting personalities and the growing pains of the organization keep this activist history lively.

More Info:
For more information, visit the film’s Facebook page. Check out Rothwell’s Indiewire filmmaker interview. For screening dates and times at Sundance, click the link in the first paragraph.

To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance filmmaker class of 2015 Twitter list.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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