We are on the verge of releasing our program, whereupon I will be able to write more about the content of this year’s festival. But, having already spilled the beans on Into Eternity, I should probably focus on less film- and more festival- related topics.
One issue that we have come up against frequently in putting together this festival is the inherent conflict in hosting a resource-dependent function to promote awareness of environmental issues. This is an issue not just faced by our festival; anyone voicing an opinion pushing a particular environmental agenda is open to accusations of hypocrisy. Just think of Cate Blanchett, and the gleeful finger-pointing that occurred when she dared publically support a carbon price. That same glee can be seen hovering around the Greens during elections as they distribute “How to Vote” cards.
To a large extent, living in our society dictates a certain “locked in” environmental impact; one that can only realistically be avoided by living in a cave on a mountaintop, with a bicycle-powered generator (candles are a very inefficient source of light) and wrapping yourself in fern fronds. We eat food drawn from the industrial machine, however carefully we try to source our consumption, we walk on roads constructed with fossil fuel, we heat and cool our homes with electricity and, in public transport-poor cities, those who don’t live in the inner city are pushed to drive cars to do even the most basic task.
That said, the dimensions of the “locked in” envelope are actually fairly fluid, and determined by a range of social, economic and environmental factors. If I realistically want to participate in my community, engage with my friends and family and indulge in some of the most pleasant aspects of humanity, I can’t sit on top of that mountain (for the most part) but I might resist the temptation to buy a 50 foot yacht and a hummer just so I feel accepted. How we construct our “needs” in terms of activities or direct consumption, and how we then exercise our consumption choices in pursuing those needs all influence the size of that envelope.
In considering whether to run our festival, we decided that the benefit of informing people was worth the impact. Even so, when addressing the issue of the festival’s impact, rest assured that our committee does take it very seriously. First, you will be pleased to know that the festival, so far, has not chartered its own private jet. Second, there is a lot of frank and fearless debate over how and when to consume resources, partly because the more you think about such things, the bigger and more complex the mess that results. Take, for example, the issue of printing posters for promotional purposes.
Do we print posters?
We shouldn’t – think of the impact of the paper
We could use recycled paper
But all the newspapers and printer ink in recycled paper means the BPA levels are really high
Fine. How would we do it otherwise?
We can rely on internet to spread the word
But that involves electricity
Less than printing
But it also encourages our society’s dependence on electronic gadgets…. You know these will only end up as e-waste being dumped in developing countries
Ok – do we just want to rely on word of mouth?
But then we will end up with about 3 people in the film sessions. The entire point of the festival is to raise awareness… If it will just be our friends there, we may as well just host a dinner party
It is a lot of resources to show the film to just three people….
Maybe the resources associated with the printing will be offset by behaviour change from people seeing the film?
What if the film is about overfishing? Can we really express “fish saved” in terms of reams of paper, or kilowatts of energy? That seems like long bow to draw.
At this point, we start considering that move to the mountaintop.
One way we have managed to resolve these dilemmas is through sourcing material as best we can. For example, we found a great printer who uses recycled paper and waterless printing (am going to do a plug here – FishPrint). We also found a wonderful t-shirt printing company we will be using called 3Fish, which uses organic, fair trade cotton and vegetable-based dyes. (I think the “Fish” in both names is purely coincidental, unless there is something in the sustainable retail world I don’t know about.)
We actually have a film that touches on these issues. Actually, we have two…. Possibly three. But I should probably not go there just yet. Soon….