Extinction Rebellion’s short film, Guardians of Life, is being promoted as “Joaquin Phoenix’s next film after Joker”. It’s far more important than that. It’s Earth’s desperate plea for help.
The script was created in October last year by Extinction Rebellion. It became a film through a collaboration between Extinction Rebellion and the advocacy group, Amazon Watch. The film was directed by Shaun Monson and features Joaquin Phoenix, Rosario Dawson, Oona Chaplin, Adria Arjona, Albert Hammond Jr of The Strokes, Q’orianka Kilcher and Matthew Modine. It marks the beginning of a new outreach strategy, which hopes to trigger an emotional response in the wider public to the climate and ecological emergency (CEE). It is one thing to know that world is in danger. It is another thing to feel it. The latter will create change.
Gail Bradbrook, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, noted, “There is still a disconnect between how bad things are and the action that needs to happen. But that gap is narrowing. There are more significant people starting to break ranks, to tell the truth and act as if it is real.”
The two minute film, about a life-saving procedure in an emergency room, acts as a PSA for the plight of the Amazon and its indigenous communities, and an alarm call for deforestation and biodiversity loss taking place in every corner of the globe, as a result of devastating wildfires, droughts, floods and storms.
Jonathan Mintram, the film’s executive producer, stressed that, “This film features fires in the Amazon and Australia, but we must not forget the other devastating fires from Angola and The Congo to Siberia and California.”
Guardians of Life is the first of a twelve-part series planned by Extinction Rebellion, in collaboration with Mobilize Earth. Each will tell a story about the most pressing issues facing the human species as we move into what most scientists, politicians and the public see as the make or break decade for the survival of life on the planet.
Joaquin Phoenix’ involvement adds to his history of activism. Phoenix was recently arrested at a protest organised by Jane Fonda in Washington DC, where he spoke about the link between climate change and animal agriculture. He commented, “It’s [the film is] really a call to action. I did it to raise awareness about the meat and dairy industry’s effect on climate change. The fact is we are clear-cutting and burning rainforests and seeing the negative effects of those actions worldwide. People don’t realize there’s still time, but only if we act now and make sweeping changes to our consumption. We can’t wait for governments to solve these problems for us. We can’t wait until the election to try to make these changes. We have a personal responsibility to make changes in our own lives and act now.”
Shaun Monson said that he felt compelled to make the film as previous documentary-style PSAs had failed to move audiences to take action. “So instead of focusing on deforestation, ice melting and species extinction, we use a story as a metaphor. The Amazon has been called the lungs of the world, or the heart of the world, but instead of documentary footage we proposed an ER setting with doctors and nurses trying to save an unseen patient with systemic heart failure. The twist is not only who one of the paramedics is, but what they were really fighting to save all along.”
Leila Salazar-López of Amazon Watch added, “An indigenous woman saving the Amazon is not a metaphor: it is a daily reality as the rainforest is razed and indigenous lands are invaded for profit. The Amazon rainforest is the heart of our world, and indigenous forest guardians are central to its well-being and to our collective future.”
Sônia Guajajara, executive coordinator of the Articulation of Brazil’s Indigenous Peoples (APIB), commented, “This film is very important for us at this moment. It demonstrates the artists’ engagement in Amazon protection by showing the key role indigenous peoples play in defending the forests, the planet, and life itself.”
The film’s funding has come from a variety of organisations such as the UK-based Catalysts Foundation, as well as the global Climate Save Movement. The website for the film, www.mobilize.earth, aims to raise awareness, action and donations which will go towards the work of Amazon Watch and Extinction Rebellion.
Additional supporters include the Artists for the Amazon campaign, and Environmental Media Association.
The next film in the 12-part series will deal with the topic of denial, asking why we as a species choose to ignore the warning signs rather than deciding to act now on the climate & ecological emergency.