Dr. Rich Pancost, Bio-Geo Chemist and Director of the Cabot Institute of the environment
Ed Begley, Jr - Actor, Author, Environmentalist
'Breath of Life... is thoroughly fascinating and offers a visual feast for the big screen. Cinematic mind food is rarely this tasty.'- Maui Times Review'
'We are sleepwalking our way toward annihilation. This courageous documentary attempts to shake us out of our slumber'. - Roberta Pacino
'Breath of Life’ is a strikingly beautiful Film, A Masterpiece! Seen through the eyes of some of the world’s leading evolutionary biologists, futurists and thinkers, the fate of civilization, and how it is being formed via the structure of the human mind is eloquently expressed. It combines indigenous peoples wisdom with the emerging science of environmental psychology.
- Michael Bailey one of the original founders of Greenpeace
'Breath of Life' is a 'Deep Breath In / Deep Breath Out’ cinematic exploration of and meditation on the fate of life - make that all life on Earth. It’s stunning cinematography opens viewers eyes to an insightful understanding of a ‘Here and Now’ that — on its surface seems most challenged by ‘Climate Change’ — but at its core is actually most threatened by the vast majority of the planet’s dominant power brokers in politics, commerce and religion.
Now for the good news. Thankfully, Breath of Life also presents an enlightening tapestry of interviews with many of the world’s leading evolutionary thinkers alongside native Hawaiian wisdom keepers, farmers and others who love the land, sea, sky, forests, rivers and lifeforms of Earth. Collectively they offer potential solutions and Earth-shaking possibilities if passionate activists and just plain folks everywhere chose to face these current challenges to change the trajectory of 'what is’ to 'what-might-be’.
In short, Breath of Life inspires us all to the simple equation of how committed people working for change should trust their ability to positively impact the future for us all.
- Barry Rivers, Maui Film Festival Director
"Here's an experience that should be required viewing—by international law—before the start of every inauguration or legislative session, at the installment of new county councils and prior to the launch of every UN General Assembly. It should have been screening nonstop at Tahrir Square during the Egyptian Revolution. As a single species we have to stop bickering and grabbing, and start looking together at the growing environmental catastrophe that we have caused. As this vivid documentary proves, 'We are cutting ourselves off from reality.'
Because humans have pretty much filled the planet, we are no longer exploiting space. Now we have begun exploiting time—stealing from the future. The not-so-cheery, but vital, message: 'We have tremendous problems generated by ourselves but limited ability to know how to deal with them.' So says one of the dozens of scientists and environmentalists appearing here. They all see the threat eye-to-eye. This is a tough-love film.
Remarkably, one particular success story is juxtaposed to the general mess—the practices and understandings of pre-contact Hawaiians. Vigorous contemporary voices speak of kalo and kuleana and aloha 'aina. So if we are to use this film as a global bap on the side of the head, it should be screened first right here, from our State Legislature to local community association meetings. What will you do about the problem—ride it into oblivion?" -
- Paul Wood's review for Maui Film Festival
Two Breaths of Life in A Plastic Ocean
Posted By Life Without Plastic On February 9, 2016
Last weekend, I watched a powerful, “plastic-free” eco-documentary called Breath of Lifeat the dynamic Wakefield International Film Festival (WIFF). Wakefield is our home town, and we were honoured to sponsor the film for its Canadian premiere.
Created by Hawaiian filmmaker Susan Kucera, Breath of Life was masterfully filmed in Europe, Scandinavia, North America and Hawaii. It addresses the core question of whether our way of life and our industrial civilization could collapse because of the extreme stresses humanity is placing on our shared global natural environment. In the film, ethicist Clive Hamilton explains: “We have become a planetary force. This is as profound a transition as civilization itself.”
So why are we not doing more about it?
Sociologist William Catton notes that: “Each time we get a wake-up call, as we now like to call it, we wake up briefly and then we go right back to ‘I’ll think about that tomorrow.'” Philospher Thomas Metzinger asks, “What is it in the deep structure of the human mind that makes us unable to move?” Indeed.
A core plotline of the film – my favorite thread – is the story of a young indigenous Hawaiian man who traces his journey back to the land and way of life of his ancestors. He left his village at a young age to go to good schools in the city, got a corporate job, and toiled in the rat race, only to end up feeling empty and lost. Following the wisdom and advice of his native elders he is working to build a traditional farm using time-honoured techniques, and educating others on how to do the same. His call to action is simple: “We are all on the same canoe.”
Fossil fuels and plastic are the pernicious human-driven antagonists to protagonist Mother Earth in this documentary. Marine biologist Cynthia Matzke describes how ocean plankton, which form the base of the global food chain, may not be able to survive in our plastic-riddled oceans fifty years from now. A Hawaiian farmer laments, “We live in the wettest place in the world, and we drink bottled water.”
Image credit: Susan Kucera
Yes, the film offers up a potentially catastrophic future vision of the world. It mixes shots of vast natural beauty with vivid imagery of environmental degradation. There is shimmering music mixed with cogent commentary from thinkers ranging from grassroots farmers to some of the world’s top evolutionary biologists and futurists. They explain why the potential for catastrophe is real. So this is not necessarily a film one comes out of feeling hopeful and inspired and full of solutions. Or maybe it is…
After the film, there was a question and answer session via skype with Susan in Maui, Hawaii, and one of the researchers in the film, Dr. Ugo Bardi, a physical chemist based in Florence, Italy. A couple of people expressed how the film left them with a sense of despair and hopelessness. Susan explained that her aim with the film was to present this human-made problem as it is: “I think it’s important to face the reality of what is happening.”
For me, the film is a profoundly hopeful wake-up call. Working in the field, I see elements of this every day, but for others who are less aware of the extent of the environmental degradation at hand, the film offers an important education. Hopefully, from that awareness will come action.
And this brings me to the second breath of life…
Image credit: David Jones, Plastic Oceans
There is another film that is about to create waves of change – it builds beautifully on the wake-up call of the breath of life described above. Filmed over four years in 20 locations around the world, A Plastic Ocean is a feature-length documentary that offers an unprecedented inside look – literally – at the current state of the oceans.
The film begins with journalist director Craig Leeson’s first encounter with a majestic blue whale, fulfilling a childhood dream. The magic of the moment was indelibly tainted: “I could see plastic everywhere.”
An international team of researchers and adventurers led by producer Jo Ruxton and supported by the global non-profit Plastic Oceans came together “to document the global effects of plastic pollution–and introduce workable technology and policy solutions that can, if implemented in time, change things for the better.” Yes, there are solutions, and you can be a part of them. The vision of Plastic Oceans is “to change the world’s attitude towards plastic within a generation.”
Please watch the trailer below and share it far and wide so that as many people as possible see it, and eventually the full film. The filmmakers are seeking a global distributor to assist with release of the film in theatres around the world, so please spread the word.
“Everyone can make a difference. This film will make a difference, by first and foremost getting people to know and to care.”
– Dr. Sylvia Earle
So breathe deeply, fill yourself with knowledge and awareness, and take action to make a difference in your own personal way.
You can start by sharing these films with others.