Transitions is a film festival with a difference. It focuses on positive documentaries that offer solutions to climate change and environmental concerns, as well as hosting guest speakers that will participate in panel discussions after the showings.
The seeds for Transitions were planted when Festival Director Tim Parish was researching his film Another World is Happening. Frustrated by the climate change debate, which seemed to be about whether it actually existed rather than offering actual solutions, Parish decided to hold a festival that showed films that provided investigation and insight into technological breakthroughs and proactive solutions.
“It didn’t feel like we were ever moving to that next level of debate or discussion about what kind of breakthroughs in technologies were existing and all of the innovations that were taking place all over the world,” Parish explains. “I began to research that and was very inspired by the work of Beyond Zero Emissions, the research institute based in Melbourne, that have come up with a 100 percent renewable energy plan for how Australia could be powered. I wanted to find out who else had done work on this topic, so I started to scope around the whole world looking at environmental film festivals and what kind of new documentaries were being done on this issue. I looked around Australia but I just couldn’t seem to find any but then when I looked overseas I found that there were dozens and dozens of environmental films.”
Running over five days in early November from its Mercury Cinema base, Transitions will screen documentaries that cover a wide range of issues including a film about the possibility to switch to 100 percent renewable energy within 30 years time (Energy Autonomy: The 4th Revolution) to the electric car (Revenge of the Electric Car) to a documentary about a group who build sustainable housing in Mexico (Earthships: New Solutions). Parish says it is important to look at a broad range of topics as they “feed into each other so strongly”.
“When we’re talking about creating a sustainable society we can’t just talk purely about energy or food or even transport. All of these things tie in together and I think what’s really inspiring about looking at the entire program is that you begin to see a real blueprint forming for the world of our future. As soon as you begin to engage with all of the ideas and innovations that are taking place you realise that there’s a whole generational shift of engineers and scientists and designers who are really making this their life mission to create clean energy and a sustainable society. It’s like beginning to see a peek into the future that we actually want to live in, rather than the fear of some sort of Apocalyptic world that Hollywood continues to show us.”
This positive outlook blueprint became the overriding theme for the festival.
“Any film we screen really has to have solution-focussed content rather than a negative one. A really great example is An Inconvenient Truth. I feel that Al Gore had a real purpose in trying to convince people once and for all about the nature of climate change in that film but then he only spent the last five minutes talking about the solutions and I suppose that’s where the situation of the larger general discussion is right now – that we’ve spent the last two decades discussing the problem, which is climate change, and sometimes it feels like we’re not even close to actually resolving that.”
Each film will be followed by a panel discussion with guest speakers including Dr Sam Wells from the University of Adelaide, Patrick Green from Beyond Zero Emissions and Councillor Simon Jones from the Adelaide Hills Council. One of the speakers is Dr Ingo Weber, Chair of the Doctors for the Environment South Australia, who will speak after the film Energy Autonomy. Dr Weber will talk about health concerns emanating from fossil fuel burning and the urgency to shift to renewable energy.
“There are urgent and serious local and global health issues affecting us right now. People who live near coal fired power plants, such as in Port Augusta, need to be aware of the massive health issues affecting them and that there are alternatives available,” Weber explains. “Why keep using old fossil fuel technology when we have renewable technology available, which could perfectly replace the energy demands that we need, create jobs in manufacturing, provide us with cheaper electricity prices, as well as being a lot healthier for us? That’s the one issue on a local level, but on a global level we need to say we need this now and not in 10 years time because now is the time for urgency in regards to climate change. The bottom line of climate change is health in the end, affecting us locally and globally. That’s where the urgency comes into it. If you’re going to do something you may as well do it now.”
Transitions Film Festival
Mercury Cinema and Higher Ground
Thursday, November 1 to Sunday, November 4