Being The Change - A new kind of Climate Documentary was released in April this year, so I was super excited to get my hands on it. Many of my favourite documentaries are several years old now, so I was looking forward to a new take on an old topic. Based on the book Being The Change, by Peter Kalmus, also the star of this film, it starts by saying that climate change is scary and what is one person going to do? Change their light globes?
If you haven't yet heard of him, Kalmus is a climate scientist who was feeling pretty worried and hopeless about the climate situation and deeply concerned what the world would be like when his children grew up. (You can read a little more about him here). He felt disconnected with the natural world, like many of us, and moved from city living to a house with a giant avocado tree in the suburbs - determined to be the change instead of passively reading about it, or panicking about it.
Early in the film, he makes a brilliant point that just because humans have the capacity to invent and make things, we don't have the right to do whatever we want, and need to have deeper consideration for the impact and life cycles of items we introduce to the world.
Peter and his family made a number of lifestyle changes that were good for the planet and fed their internal happiness, making them feel more connected with the earth, less stressed, and more importantly, reduced their reliance on fossil fuels.
I had read a couple of reviews and promos about this movie that described it as ''intriguing'', ''engaging'' and ''inspirational'', so I really expected it to be a fun and potentially motivating movie... but it wasn't, and those words certainly don't come to mind when trying to describe it.
The overall tone was very subdued, with background music that was a little reminiscent of the old sim city games, except slower and far less exciting. His constant monotone voice really irritated me, and the lack of energy and very few smiles, made this a frustrating way to spend an hour while I waiting for it to get better.
Climate change can be a boring topic, but watching how people transform their lives to non-traditional ways is usually pretty interesting.
Rob Greenfield, an entrepreneur and environmental activist, was featured for several minutes (who I really like) and watching him dumpster diving for his groceries in his undies made me laugh. Honestly, if he wasn't in the film I would have switched it off out of boredom.
The other highlight for me was seeing very briefly how to use an old stove, as demonstrated by the composting toilet Humanure expert.
Kalmus interviewed a ton of other boring people, mostly men, speaking very non passionately about their favourite topics apparently. I had trouble getting past the depressing vibe and didn't enjoy it, even though it did make several good points about fossil fuel, modern lifestyles, food waste and other topics I have a keen interest in.
I feel his overall mood had a huge impact on how the interviews came across, and I suspect maybe he'd recently given up coffee, was an insomniac or possible coming down with flu. My hopes lifted briefly when he finally cracked a smile teasing his wife about her propensity to break things. Overall, It was incredibly boring, slow paced and poorly lit, with topics not really covered in depth at all.
It seemed the main point he was trying to make is that just one person CAN create change, and we should reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, but I think that point has been made so many times in history that the movie really needed a lot more interesting points. Yes, he did cut down on his fossil fuel usage quite significantly, but I think I must have fallen asleep when he explained exactly why he used so much in the first place. (feel free to fill me in on the details as I just couldn't make it through the last 10 minutes and there is no way I'm going back to the start to get that information).
Perhaps someone needs to start a movement demanding people creating films pleaaaase make something good......and perhaps start a charity to raise funding to train the monotone community of film makers that seem to be growing each year.
So, I can't exactly recommend this documentary, but if you do want to see it, go right ahead - you might come away with a completely different opinion than mine, and as I said, he did make some excellent points during the film.
I suspect the film was created to promote the book, and to be fair, I haven't read the book but I believe it contains much more detail and I probably will have a read of it at some stage.
What sustainability focussed films have you seen lately that were great? I'd love to hear about it!
I promise, the next review I write is going to be genuinely positive! I have been reading a couple of fantastic books this month that I'll be sharing soon. If you want to make sure you don't miss it, then subscribe to the newsletter below.