The producer, who wanted to tell the story of this often misunderstood group in depth, placed herself in the protest group plane stupid and documents their misadventures throughout 2009.
The film covers the planning and execution of stunts including storming a power station and the headquarters of a corporate bank, supergluing themselves to each other and to entranceways, using bike locks to link themselves to stepladders wedged into revolving doors and living on the proposed third runway at Heathrow.
Their methods, codes and willingness to break the law in order to save the planet are rare and fascinating to look at and the passion of every team-member is overwhelming.
Every character seems to be aware of the possible legal implications of their stunts. They do not take such worries lightly and try, in the process of getting their message across, to avoid capture and punishment where possible.
Emily James who has over ten years experience in making documentaries employed an overall light, entertaining tone throughout the movie. It is enjoyable, easy to watch and might have the purpose to counteract the bad and violent reputation climate activists often suffer due to hostile media coverage.
Although this is a strong and valuable documentary about an often stereotyped group of activists who make strong points and address important issues in our society, overall the film lacks persuasive power.
The activists say that climate change is bad and blame our capitalist society but neither bring up arguments to back up these claims or show alternatives in the form of actionable solutions to the problem. Nevertheless it is definitely worth a look as it is still fun and informative about the way this group operates.
Just do it has been nominated for the Sheffield Green Award 2011 and was shown free of charge at 80 universities throughout the country, including Kingston University. It is a fully independent, grassroots project that has been made possible thanks to the generosity of over 100 volunteers and 447 crowd funders. It will soon be shown on Dutch television.
Plane stupid is currently collecting funds to take the US by storm next year.
Interview with one of the main characters
Paul Reynolds, one of the main characters of the movie and a member of the activist group, told Kingston students his story after the screening.
He believes capitalist societies are the cause of climate change and has decided to live in a greenhouse as a squatter, where he tries to live as cheaply as possible: “It is a life skill to learn to live really cheaply and there were times when I was depressed and thought it’s not as nothing will change, but when I saw all these student protests against the tuition fees, my confidence that we united can make this world a better place came back.”
His interest in environmentalism started when he was 15, when he decided to go to the climate camp to discuss the issues that mattered to him and to take direct action: “Activism to me feels like therapy. You can finally do something against all these problems and it feels great. Not doing anything doesn’t solve the problem.”
Reynolds, who studied Politics and Philosophy at Sheffield University, has been convicted once for aggravated trespassing.
“Everyone knows that we could get arrested for trespassing a building or occupying the runway of Heathrow airport and we try to avoid arrests if we can, but we are willing to become an outlaw if we can make a difference in our world.”
Although he is currently unemployed, he has earned money organising the activist group and believes that a future employer, despite criminal convictions, will appreciate what he has done and would consider him to be someone who takes initiative, has a great character and lots of passion.
You can by the DVD here and see a map of upcoming screenings here.