Movie Review: “This Changes Everything”

This Changes Everything, directed by Avi Lewis, is a film of stories. These stories are ones of frontline communities all over the world facing powerful systems that refuse to acknowledge that our fossil fuel based economy is not only causing climate change but putting human lives in peril.


The film was shot concurrently with the writing of Naomi Klein’s international non-fiction bestseller This Changes Everything. Klein’s opening narration in the film revisited everyone’s least favorite climate change polar bear, showing a clip of a polar bear jumping from melting ice block to melting ice block. But unlike in past films on climate change, she acknowledged its ineffective image in changing our beliefs and behaviors towards climate change.

At the premiere at Roxie Theater in the Mission District of SF last night, I was happy to find a film uncovering issues of climate change from a human perspective, a film that focused on stories rather than numbers.

People I can relate to, while numbers have always made me feel impotent.

Paul Hawken, renowned author of books such as Blessed Unrest and Natural Capitalism, spoke at the Bioneers conference this past weekend saying, “…when we have a strongly held belief, facts don’t change that belief…we need narratives and stories…facts create fear and fear destroys imagination and innovation.”

I have to agree. This Changes Everything really made me wonder where the world would be on climate change action if Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth had been focused on human stories and connections to climate change, rather then the science. Science, much to my dismay, is deniable. Climate change science, no matter the angle, feels dooming and unchangeable, and here in lies our inability to take action on a personal and global level.

However, Paul Hawken and this film have left me with a new view on climate change; climate change as an opportunity to recreate the world as a more equitable, healthy and holistic system.

Alberta Tar Sands in Canada

Alberta Tar Sands in Canada

This Changes Everything is a must see. From the Alberta tar sands to the proposed coal-fired power plant in India’s wetlands to the clips from the conservative Heartland Institute’s Climate Change Conference, my mind and heart were wrenched until the film culminated in a collection of direct action rallies, like the People’s Climate March in New York last year, leaving me with a feeling of empowerment.

Because, what changes everything? Well, people do.

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