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Directed by Avi Lewis, “This Changes Everything” is a powerful call to act on the challenge of climate change. At its core, it contains a message of empowerment: that is, the capacity for the world to confront climate change by transforming the world’s failed economic system into something better.
Inspired by Naomi Klein’s international best seller, “This Changes Everything” re-imagines the vast challenge of climate change, recasting it within the framework of increasing polarisation between the Global North and South, Capitalism versus the climate. The film contrasts the hubris-like arrogance of the ‘Global North’ and those that hold the view that nature can be and is controlled by humanity, with the lives of those living in the ‘Global South’, who are most affected by global warming’s extreme effects and where humanity’s dependency on nature is demonstrated through the nuances of everyday life.
Klein’s narration weaves throughout the film as she presents a powerful argument that connects the personal stories of those most affected by climate change with the economic system that put them there. In the ‘Global North’, we see how the current economic system encourages humanity to see nature as mastered, and has allowed us to disconnect ourselves from nature. In the ‘Global South’, seven powerful portraits of communities on the front-lines of climate change are presented, interwoven with the personal struggles of the individuals who confront its effects on a daily basis. The extraordinary detail lends the film an element of the personal that is so often neglected in the disconnected political rhetoric surrounding climate change. It also serves to foreground the forgotten ties that bind the Global North and the Global South, as well as humanity and nature, together.
Lewis’ film is refreshing as it provides an essential element that has been all but missing in the calls to action made by her predecessors. Unlike calls to action that are most often communicated in the language of remorse, regret, or desperation, carefully crafted to scare an audience into action, “This Changes Everything” is communicated in the language of empowerment and hope. It aims to inspire its audience into the action that it demonstrates to be not only necessary for our future but also, and perhaps most importantly, achievable.
By Tara Janus