Greenpeace’s Bob Hunter launches an eco “Mind Bomb”
a film by Jerry Rothwell
Opens in Canada:
Toronto – Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
Montreal – Cinema du Parc
Vancouver – Vancity
Waterloo – Princess
Cobourg – The Loft
Ottawa – The Bytowne
Regina – RPL Film Theatre
Barrie Film Festival
more cities to follow
Director Jerry Rothwell, Emily Hunter and Rex Weyler are all available for interviews by email, phone, or Skype.
Emily Hunter will be in attendance in Toronto Friday Aug 7 and Saturday Aug 8 for post screening discussions.
Rex Weyler will be in attendance in Vancouver Friday Aug 7 and Saturday Aug 8 for post screening discussions.
Bobbi Hunter will be in attendance in Montreal Friday Aug 7 and Saturday Aug 6 for post screening discussions.
Greenpeace and phrases like “Save the Whales” have been ingrained in our culture so long, it’s hard to remember a world without them. But the marriage of the anti-war and ecology movements – embodied in the name “Greenpeace” itself – was a stroke of marketing genius from an unlikely group of passionate oddballs.
Director Jerry Rothwell’s How To Change The World is the stirring, thought-provoking and often comical story of how this improbable group of hippies, wayward preppies, restless academics and outsiders created a mass change in how we see ourselves and our planet.
Barry Pepper provides the voice of the late Greenpeace co-founder Robert Hunter, whose narrated writings shape the film’s story. Hunter presaged the phenomenon of “going viral” with his notion of using the media to create visual “mind bombs” the most famous of which was captured chasing Russian whalers on the high seas.
How To Change The World has been described as a “hippie heist movie.” It was the opening day World Documentary at this year’s Sundance Festival where it won a Special Jury Prize for Editing and was a Top Ten Audience Choice at Hot Docs 2015.
The film often plays like an adventure story held aloft by a stunning treasure trove of 16mm footage, much of which has never been seen until now. Equally compelling are the moving, oftentimes conflicting memories of a cast of surviving fellow eco-pioneers that includes Paul Watson and Patrick Moore. The result is an intimate look at small, foolishly-brave events that created a huge geopolitical footprint.
These include: heading a boat directly into the blast area of a planned 1971 U.S. nuclear test on Amchitka Island in the Aleutians, and finding and challenging a Soviet factory whaling boat – a “floating slaughterhouse” that flouted even the minimal regulations that existed at the time.
But like many bands of brothers, this one began to crack under the weight of its own success, fault lines forming over the question of leadership, soaring egos and conflicting visions about the future of the organization.
“I was interested in what they did, but I was also very interested in what happened within that group,” says director Rothwell. “In a very short space of time, they went from being a bunch of people in a boat heading into a nuclear test zone, to being an international organization. It’s like a hit band, it’s bound to create pressures within. And I thought there are lessons there for today’s activist groups.”
The leader of the “hit band,” Hunter, became Rothwell’s narrative centerpiece. “Before he was the first Greenpeace president, he was a gonzo journalist”, adds Rothwell, “the token hippie on the Vancouver Sun who wrote a daily column on the counterculture. His writing is Beat influenced, deeply self-doubting and full of comedy – and that becomes the narrative spine of the film.”
Look no further than Hunter’s use of Chinese ritual I Ching coins to (successfully) locate the Soviet whalers.
“Eventually, the comedy gives way to horrible realities. The very famous iconic shot of a harpoon being fired over the heads of these guys into a whale – it’s just two guys trying to stay afloat on an inflatable boat. It’s poetic and horrifying, much more horrific than they ever anticipated.”
Director Jerry Rothwell has made documentaries on myriad subjects, including a round-the-world sailing race (Deep Water), sperm donors (Donor Unknown) and a punk band whose members suffer various learning disabilities (Heavy Load). His next documentary project, Sour Grapes, will investigate the phenomenon of counterfeit fine wine.
How to Change the World is produced by MET Film, Daniel Film, and Insight Production Company Ltd. The film is presented by The British Film Institute and Sky in association with Impact Partners, Shark Island Productions, Bell Media, and the Ontario Media Development Corporation. Produced by Al Morrow and Bous De Jong. John Murray serves as Supervising Producer. Jonny Persey, Stewart Le Marechal, John Brunton, Barbara Bowlby, and David Nicholson Wilkinson are Executive Producers.
KinoSmith Inc., is an independent Canadian film distribution and marketing company founded in 2007 by distribution veteran Robin Smith. KinoSmith is also home to the Hot Docs Collection that releases award-winning documentaries curated by the Hot Docs Festival in Canada. KinoSmith recently teamed up with the Blue Ice Group to start a new global distribution entity call Blue Ice Docs. KinoSmith’s current and upcoming releases include IRIS, I AM BIG BIRD: THE CAROLL SPINNEY STORY, CHAMELEON, THE JOE SHOW, THE AMINA PROFILE, WHAT’S LEFT, GHOST ROCKETS and BOUND BY FLESH.