When we think of global issues like climate change, we tend to think first of the seemingly insurmountable challenges they present. We tend to think of how we appear to be running, not walking, towards the destruction of our planet.
Filmmaker Shalini Kantayya doesn’t. She thinks of the possibilities. She thinks of the opportunities we as individuals and communities have to start making a real positive impact. She thinks about what we can achieve when we stop waiting for others to act, and instead act ourselves.
That’s what Catching the Sun is about.
The director and activist, who finished in the top 10 of 12,000 filmmakers in reality show On The Lot with Steven Spielberg, founded her production company 7th Empire with a view to highlighting issues of human rights and sustainability.
Work on this documentary began when Shalini came across a solar power jobs training program in Richmond, California, a town ravaged by economic disadvantage and the ever-present threat of the nearby Chevron petroleum refinery. This grassroots movement not only addressed a global environmental issue, but a local people issue. By training the unemployed and underemployed in solar energy, they found that they could improve the earth and create jobs; not sacrifice one for the benefit of the other.
Telling the stories of the individuals and entrepreneurs involved in the global race to cash in on the solar energy boom, Catching the Sun highlights the fear and misinformation that stymies policy, and the blatant sabotage corporations will engage in to ensure their own interests. It also celebrates the power of the everyman.
What it teaches us is that when something is everyone’s responsibility, it’s no-one’s responsibility. It only takes a handful of people to decide to take some responsibility and, in doing so, change the world.
Bank Australia presented Catching the Sun as part of the Transitions Film Festival.