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This Changes Everything
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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that This Changes Everything is a climate change documentary that promotes positivity and taking immediate action as viable solutions to the crisis on our planet. The focus is on forcefully confirming that the Earth is indeed in danger and then offering concrete ways to make corrections, beginning at the local level. Other than a few dissenting interviews, the point of view is consistently in favor of taking care of Mother Earth. Footage of real violence includes scenes of police and military troops attempting to disperse protestors or prevent activists from entering fenced-off areas; in one instance, police shoot randomly, and two men are killed. A few salty words are heard ("s--t," "hell," and one "f--k"), and one scene shows people celebrating a victory with a drink/toast. This film makes an effort to put a positive spin on a topic that's usually frustrating and scary; it's meant for mature kids and adults with hopes of encouraging thoughtful discussion and action.
What's the story?
THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING is based on the same-named 2014 book by Naomi Klein, a Canadian political journalist who narrates the film. Klein's husband, Avi Lewis, is the director. To make their movie, the two traveled together over a four-year period through nine countries, successfully capturing on film a number of grassroots efforts to stop impending disasters due to the actions of governments and corporations who pursue "growth with no limits." From the lands of Canada's First Nations people and those of the U.S. Native American tribes to the cities, wetlands, forests, and farm country of China, India, and Greece, Klein and Lewis filmed and interviewed ordinary people coming together with a firm objective who were willing to risk everything to ensure their own and their children's survival.
Is it any good?
Thoughtful, compelling, and beautifully put together, this film offers hope and a positive outlook for a world in which even a mention of climate change can elicit both despair and controversy. From the first words of the narration -- when Klein talks about being frustrated, even bored, with constant staggering statistics and doomsday predictions about climate change -- it's clear that This Changes Everything wants to be different.
And it succeeds, powerfully. Carefully selecting seven instances in which resourceful, steadfast members of vulnerable communities set out to protect their world and livelihood from short-sighted, wrong-headed business interests, Klein and Lewis ask and answer their insightful question: "What if global warming is the best chance we'll ever get to build a better world?" Fighting practices and "progress" that would encroach upon their beloved land -- power plants, coal mines, a gold processing plant, conversion of tar sands into oil -- the true stories in this movie leave us with people to remember, events to cheer about, and a message that inspires.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what unites the diverse people featured in This Changes Everything. How can a shared cause bring people together? What role does the media play in that?
What evidence, if any, is there of climate change in your community? Does this film inspire you to think about the consequences of those changes and perhaps take action where it's possible?
Documentaries are created to inform, entertain, and/or persuade, often in some combination. What do you think the filmmakers' goals were here? Were they successful?
Think about the film's title, This Changes Everything. What does "This" refer to? Is it meant as a positive or negative statement?
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