Jonathan J. Halperin
Jonathan J. Halperin
Designing Our Future
Strategy. Partnership. Communication.

From the Cuyahoga to Kigali

As part of the global marketing of Hope in a Changing Climate, the award-winning film Halperin executive produced with a team from the Environmental Education Media Project, Halperin authored a series of blog posts from December 2009 to June 2010. The following dispatch is part of this series.

To learn more about the film and ecosystem restoration, see the Hope in a Changing Climate project.


Viewed through the lens of a still camera – clicking off one shot after another – there are a host of discrete events worthy of attention in the week just past and the weeks ahead.  Earth Day in the United States is around the corner on April 22.  And World Water Day was on March 22.  The cornerstones of World Environment Day on June 5 are Rwanda -- and Pittsburgh.  Rwanda, of course, is home to the famed and rare mountain gorilla, while Pittsburgh is a mere 135 mile from Cleveland, where the Cuyahoga River was once so polluted that it actually caught fire in June 22, 1969, igniting the American environmental movement. 

And 2010 has been declared by the United Nations as the year of biodiversity.  Amidst this fanfare for environmental protection and celebration, there is also news that the International Whaling Commission is considering once again sanctioning the hunting of whales.  As a few species may no longer be on the brink of extinction, so goes the strange logic, why actually let them flourish when they can be pushed back to the brink so easily?   So too, there is something especially troubling in the announcement this week that British Petroleum is not only closing its solar panel manufacturing plant outside of Washington, DC.  While moving an operation overseas to lower costs is a familiar enough tale, the twist here is that having no buyers for the facility, BP actually plans to tear down the plant – as China surges ahead to dominant positions in manufacturing both solar panels and wind power turbines.

It is thus a good thing that the preferred medium for communications at EEMP is not the still camera but rather a movie camera that whirs calmly as its open lens captures an unfolding story.  At EEMP we see not so many discrete or isolated events, but rather a panoply of activities – a fabric of interwoven threads that come together in the wonder of fully functioning ecosystems.  We thus have ambitious plans for new documentary work across parts of east Africa – Rwanda, Ethiopia and Tanzania.  And as one can see from the new maps recently loaded to our website, 71 organizations in 29 countries have now screened “Hope in a Changing Climate” and engaged local stakeholders in discussions around the themes of the film.

And the film, initially aired by BBC World (average weekly audience of 74 million people), has now also been accepted to several major international film festivals, from Sisak, Croatia, to Missoula, Montana, USA.

Recent Festivals:

  • Cinema Planeta Film Festival, Mexico City, Mexico, March 9, 2010
  • Elliniki Etaireia, Athens, Greece, March 17, 2010
    "Hope in a Changing Climate" was shown in Athens as part of a season of environmental films organized by one of Greece's most respected green NGOs, known as Elliniki Etaireia. The film, subtitled in Greek, drew a lively reaction from an audience of at least 100 supporters of environmental causes. Bruce Clark, a journalist from the Economist magazine, moderated a discussion about some of the issues raised. There was strong interest in the idea that China has things to teach the rest of the world about the repair of eco-systems. Several people noted that the problem of degraded eco-systems was especially acute in parts of Greece. The audience was interested in the role played by ordinary people in rebuilding damaged micro-environments, and in the sort of governance and philosophy that is needed to mobilize people. Elliniki Etaireia intends to show the film in other parts of Greece.
  • World Bank Environmental Film Festival, Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 18-25 
    “I just want to let you know that the screening of ‘Hope in a Changing Climate’ last Tuesday was a great success. Around 200 people saw the documentary in Ciudad Cultural Konex, Buenos Aires. I'll send you some pictures soon.”

Upcoming Festivals

  • George Mason University Earth Week 2010, Arlington, Virginia, USA, Monday, April 26, 5-7 
    Mason’s celebration of Earth Week 2010 features many opportunities to learn about environmental sustainability as well as Mason’s commitment to leadership in environmental research and action.As part of the weeklong festival, “Hope in a Changing Climate” will screen at Mason's Arlington campus. The film will be followed by a facilitated discussion with Dann Sklarew, Associate Professor with the Environmental Science and Policy Department at Mason.
  • Sisak Eco Film Festival (SEFF), Sisak, Croatia, April 2010
    The main cause of the Sisak Eco Film Festival is to broadcast videos and films that promote environmental protection and sustainable development.
  • 33rd Annual International Wildlife Film Festival — Finalist, May 8-15, Missoula, Montana, USA
    The International Wildlife Film Festival is the premier venue for wildlife filmmaking and filmmakers. Often called the Sundance of the Wildlife Film genre, IWFF is an annual gathering where film, television, new media, science and conservation converge.  IWFF was the first wildlife film festival in the world and today, has the distinction of being the longest running wildlife film festival, attracting over 10,000 people from around the world each year.

-- Jonathan J. Halperin

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