A BIG thanks to Candice Orlando, Co-Director of Arise the Movie, for contributing this post.
Eight years ago I embarked on an amazing journey that changed my life and has since changed the lives of many other people in the world. My mother, who I have been close to my whole life, and I decided we wanted to make a documentary that would highlight what women are doing around the world to create change in response to climate change and environmental devastation. We each had our own heroines that inspired us so we started there and what was to happen, went beyond our hopes and imagination.
My mother has been a filmmaker for over 30 years now and brought the expertise and film knowledge. She is very passionate about women and indigenous rights and has made films on these subjects. I have a flare for activism and am very passionate about the rights of people and the earth, so together we made a great team.
At first the film was a little different than it turned out to be in the end. It had a broad scope of women doing amazing work for peace, justice and environment issues in connection to feminine spirituality. We had an interview with the amazing archeologists Marija Gimbutus who made discoveries of cultures that were run by women and were peaceful societies. After going to Hawaii to highlight the indigenous people who lived in a peaceful and matriarchal society and then to San Francisco to interview Heidi Kuhn who founded Roots for Peace, which is an organization that plants grape vines in Afghanistan where they have removed land mines, we realized that we needed a common thread and we realized that environmental changes are effecting everyone but that the women are the ones who are rising up and creating the most change in that area.
Jackpot! We revised our treatment and started fundraising. We found our heroines that we wanted to interview including Vandana Shiva, Wangari Maathai, Winona LaDuke and Majora Carter. I started researching these women and found other phenomenal movements that we had to film. So we were off first to Ecuador to interview Monica Chuji, a Quechuan activist that was fighting the oil companies from destroying her home, the Ecuadorian Rainforest. We also stayed with a Quechuan community leader who invited us to help with their first harvest of the year with his family. The women harvested beans while the men played music and honored the Pacha Mama. At that moment with tears running down my face I decided that I wanted to start growing food for my community. Today I am the executive director of a non-profit urban farm that grows food for people no matter what their income is.
After our amazing trip in Ecuador we came back home and started fundraising more and after a few years we found our angel, Molly Ross, who became our executive producer and believed so much in this project that she helped to fund the rest of the production. Throughout our travels to Kenya, India, Ecuador, the US and Israel/Palestine I realized how amazing women truly are. From replanting their forest that had been deforested, to standing up against fracking companies that had polluted their land, to leaving their country to learn how to build solar lights for their small rural communities, to starting a farmers market in their community that had felt the knife of environmental injustices because of their race and class; women fight for their families and communities which means that they lead these incredible movements that persist longer then any other ones. When a woman is empowered to start her own business the money she makes goes to feed her family. When women get together and their husbands move to the cities to find jobs they start their own jobs planting trees or making jewelry out of sustainable materials. This common thread was found one after another in the different places we went to film.
We finally finished the film in February of 2012 with the help of Daryl Hannah’s narration and it was accepted into the Colorado Environmental Film Festival where we won the Spirit of Activism award. It took off from there. People were and are yearning for a film that inspires them to create change in their community and that is what this film is ultimately for. We just finished the film festival circuit where Arise was accepted into 13 film festivals throughout the world. We are starting our theatrical release in September and March so it will be coming to theaters throughout the US.
We are honored to have been able to make this film and we hope that when you see it, it inspires you. For more information on who is in the film, how to see the film or to bring the film to a theater near you please check out our website at www.arisethemovie.com