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Short Takes on Film: Activist Documentaries 

State of the Arts

click to enlarge Ben Falk
  • Ben Falk

“Climate change is no longer just a consequence of the Industrial Revolution. It is a crime against humanity,” says one of the talking heads featured in a new documentary called The Wisdom to Survive: Climate Change, Capitalism and Community.

That activist spirit infuses the 56-minute film from directors Anne Macksoud of Woodstock and New York-based John Ankele. It will premiere this Thursday at Randolph’s Chandler Center for the Arts as part of an ongoing event series devoted to the topic of building a local economy.

The doc features footage of devastated landscapes and determined activists from around the world. Many of the experts interviewed target the destructive linkage between Western consumer culture and global warming; they include Vermonters such as Bill McKibben, Ben Falk of Moretown’s Whole Systems Design, and whale-song expert Roger Payne.

Macksoud will attend the premiere, to be followed by a discussion led by Rev. Daniel Jantos of the nearby North Universalist Chapel Society. Soprano Shyla Nelson of One Earth. One Voice. will close the program with song.

The film program is the sixth in a series called “Why Build a Local Economy: Community, Engagement, Gratitude,” organized by Building a Local Economy in partnership with the Randolph Area Community Development Corporation.

The Wisdom to Survive comes with glowing blurbs from academics such as Tom F. Driver, a professor emeritus at Union Theological Seminary, who writes that “better than any other film I know, it makes clear that our profit-oriented growth economy has caused the climate catastrophe and cannot itself rescue us from disaster.”

Sounds pretty bleak, but series organizer Chris Wood says the doc has a “hopeful” side. In a press release, he recommends that locals come “prepared to challenge yourself about where and how you respond in your life … and turn it into engagement.”

The First Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington has embarked on its own monthlong series of socially conscious screenings. The selected docs “highlight marginalized groups in Vermont today,” including people struggling with hunger (A Place at the Table), depression (Depression: Out of the Shadows) and opiate addiction (local director Bess O’Brien’s The Hungry Heart). Each comes with a discussion led by a local expert.

Premiere of ‘The Wisdom to Survive: Climate Change, Capitalism and Community’ Thursday, January 30, 6:30 p.m., at Chandler Center for the Arts in Randolph. Donations accepted. balevt.org

‘A Place at the Table’ with discussion led by Hunger Free Vermont Friday, January 31, 7 p.m., at the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington. Free. Series continues Fridays through February 14. uusociety.org

The original print version of this article was headlined "Short Takes on Film: Doc Therapy"

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About The Author

Margot Harrison

Margot Harrison

Bio:
Margot Harrison is the Associate Editor at Seven Days; she coordinates literary and film coverage. In 2005, she won the John D. Donoghue award for arts criticism from the Vermont Press Association.

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