The Filmmakers Behind 'In This Climate' Talk Activism Through the Arts

The Filmmakers Behind 'In This Climate' Talk Activism Through the Arts

Creative visionaries Marina Abramovic, Cher, Vivienne Westwood, and more are lending their voices to a new documentary about climate change, coming this January.

Creative visionaries Marina Abramovic, Cher, Vivienne Westwood, and more are lending their voices to a new documentary about climate change, coming this January.

Text: Mariana Fernandez

International cultural diplomacy platform Liberatum has brought together the artists, activists, and scholars shaping today’s social landscape in a new documentary that attempts to raise awareness about the biggest issue facing the world today: climate change. In This Climate comes a year after the historic Paris agreement, the same one from which President-elect Donald Trump has threatened to withdraw in spite of the fact that over 65 million people have been displaced as a result of climate change.

In the film, aerial views of melting polar ice caps, carbon emissions, and floods are intertwined with interviews with creatives like Marina Abramovic, Cher, Vivienne Westwood, and Mark Ruffalo as well as activists and environmentalists including Noam Chomsky and Bill McKibben. It will be screened early next year as an attempt to heighten conversation and action surrounding environmental conservation before the World Economic Forum in January 2017 and further the efforts of the United Nations Climate Change Conference held this past November in Marrakesh.

We spoke to In This Climate’s filmmakers, Liberatum founder Pablo Ganguli and creative director Tomas Auksas about activism through the arts, engaging the youth, and the impact they hope the film will have.

What prompted you to expand Liberatum’s content to include environmental and social issues? 

TOMAS AUKSAS Ever since its inception, Liberatum has dedicated its cultural mission, through the arts, to focus on key social issues from women's rights to HIV AIDS awareness. We hosted the first international women's rights conference in the South Pacific more than ten years ago. Although the main emphasis of our programming and content globally in recent years has been on merging creative disciplines, promoting social issues has still been part of our objectives. For instance, we partnered up with Amnesty International in Turkey to host an event dedicated to journalists and writers wrongly imprisoned.

Can you talk about your previous involvement in human rights and environmental issues? 

PABLO GANGULI When I was seventeen, being gay at the time was a much bigger issue than it is now, especially in a developing country such as India where homosexual acts are still illegal. Can you imagine? They call themselves the world's largest democracy. And being colored, I knew of the huge injustices and discrimination people of color faced. I suppose that sense of justice and fighting against discrimination was embedded deep into my psyche. I was expelled from Morocco simply for being openly gay and having a Moroccan boyfriend. In 2005, you did not do such a thing in Morocco. You still can't. But I decided early on in my life there were two choices. Either live your entire life a lie in order to fit in or be honest about your identity and speak out against injustices in order for everyone to fit in fairly. I did the latter and Liberatum's dedication to human rights and social issues is driven by that.

Why climate change and why now?

PG & TA Simply because it's the biggest threat to humanity. It's a huge crisis and we have reached the tipping point. People still don't seem to realize that.

How and why did you choose the wide range of contributors that you did? 

PG & TA  It was important to include people from different backgrounds so that we reach as many people as possible who are interested in different art forms and disciplines but still find climate change abstract a topic. We included individuals from diverse fields in the hope those that follow them will be convinced it is time to act. Scientists, artists, activists, actors, and students, government ministers, economists as well as organizations such as the UN are all in the film and are requesting you to start acting now. We all need to come together. There are solutions but we can't only rely on governments. We need to start with changes in our own homes.

Do you believe in a higher potential for activism through the arts?

PG & TA Absolutely. Creativity has always been a huge part of starting revolutions. Arts and culture are a representation of who we are and how we think. To encourage and motivate people through the arts is the most productive and effective way. A cultural piece of work can move you like no other.

Do you have any other ongoing programs related to environmental conservation?

PG & TA We will soon launch a program of cultural events in over thirty countries to promote environmental and climate change awareness bringing together acclaimed environmentalists and artists. We are also in talks with one of the leading environmental protection organizations to host a tremendous cultural auction dedicated environmental conservation next year.

What do you hope to achieve through the film?

PG & TA We hope young people start understanding that there is no more time left. We need a cultural shift now in how we use energy and how we live. We can't keep abusing this planet any more. No more plastic. No more meat. Make fossil fuel industry completely accountable.

How is it different from the other climate change documentaries that have been released this year? 

PG & TA Each film is beautiful and unique and at the heart of these films remains the same goal, the time to act is now.

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