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Kahlil Gibran The Reluctant Visionary
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Community, Education, Environment, Social Justice, Welfare, Youth
Madi is an activist and her cause is her life. She is mature beyond her years and yet still a girl in many ways. She can be dead serious or a goofball, ironic and quirky, but always her own person who’s consistently made sacrifices for her beliefs. She’ll dodge bullets before accepting another shot in another shark. Madi grew up in the ocean along Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Sharks are part of her family. Feisty and opinionated, her parents nicknamed her ‘Pip’, since her dad was a ‘Pirate’ and her mother a ‘Hippy’. Even in her short lifetime, Madi has noticed a decline in shark populations everywhere she dives. She left school at age 14 to start protecting sharks full-time. To her they are not the monster but the king of a healthy sea. In a paradox that is pure Madi, her favourite film is JAWS. She understands too well that the real enemy is fear: if we could understand why we need sharks - and why we need to respect their power as an Apex predator - we might stop killing them by the hundreds of millions every year. Trying to ‘Shark-Proof’ the ocean for our safety is as misdirected and outdated as Australia’s once-famous Rabbit- Proof Fence. In order to reduce the devastating effects of shark fishing, finning, submerged nets and baited hooks, Madi will create a 4-min video called ‘How Sharks Change Reefs’. Just like the viral video "How Wolves Change Rivers" Madi sets out to show how a healthy ocean starts at the top of its ecosystem. Madi wants to turn shark fear into shark love so that others, like she, will demand their protection. Madi enlists passionate fellow underwater filmmaker Joe Romeiro [The Edge]. Together they will create evocative images of healthy reefs and oceans with plenty of sharks - and devastated oceans without sharks. They will risk life, limb, and arrest, and be shocked by what they see. Madi finds Sydney-based American scientist Dr Elizabeth Madin who has created new technology that demonstrates sharks’ ability to reduce climate change. Now Madi’s message isn’t just for coastal dwellers, it’s for us all. She needs to show what the world looks like with and without sharks if we are to choose which one we want. A depleted reef is easy to find. Madi and Joe head to Indonesia to film damaged coral, lack of fish life, and the absence of sharks. It’s hard for Madi to witness, knowing that shark fishing is still a livelihood here and that catch rates are steadily declining. The good news for Madi is they can also find a vibrant reef not too far away. It’s a perfectly functioning paradise in a “no-fishing” zone, and it’s full of colour, life — and sharks. The science of Apex predators as guardians of their ecosystem is well documented. It’s here that Madi has an epiphany. She commits to helping shark fishermen become shark tour operators instead. Madi is able to show the value of live sharks over dead ones, and live reefs over dead ones. The village evolves a new business model as Madi completes her film.
Aged, Health & Wellbeing
Speaking only in magnificent images, sounds, and music, Mortal is an unflinching cinematic travelogue that challenges our complex relationship with mortality by immersing us in the taboo, macabre, and yet undeniably beautiful world of human death rituals.<p></p><p></p><p>In the tradition of nonverbal films like Baraka and Koyaanisqatsi, Mortal explores how humans around the world ceremonialize mortality. Western society has constructed a culture of death denial that discreetly glosses over the more uncomfortable aspects of our mortality. Most of us are living with an unexpressed fear of death, and that fear affects the overall quality of our lives and our behaviour. To live deeply humans need exposure to death over time and in a rational way. Mortal seeks to address this gap in our understanding. </p><p>The film opens with an explosive celebration of death, a carnival of colourful and theatrical rituals from around the world. Here, death is not hidden from the living, and the audience can enjoy these typically taboo scenes from a safe distance. </p><p>We then follow the journeys of five people in the final chapter of their lives: a terminally ill Californian who chooses to end their life through assisted dying methods; the highly ritualised death of a Suri tribeswoman in remote Ethiopia; the peaceful, yet macabre sky burial of a Tibetan Buddhist living in Luang Gar; an Australian patient and their doctors fighting mortality from a Western hospital bed; and an Indian’s final pilgrimage to Varanasi in hope of breaking the cycle of birth and death forever. Their journeys are intimately documented from individual death preparations, to the moment of their passing, to the funeral rites held by family and friends. </p><p>The final act of Mortal serves as a balancing epilogue to the film’s opener. Humanity’s timeless pursuit of immortality is explored through old and new death monuments and the perpetual cycle of decay and renewal on earth and in the universe. </p><p>For thousands of years, belief in an afterlife gave a relatively satisfying answer to the death question. But without belief, how do we wrap our heads around death? Whilst Mortal offers no answers to the riddle of our mortality, it tempts the audience to stare into the void we’ve spent most of our lives sidestepping. For centuries, the greatest minds in history have encouraged us to study the art of dying in order to live fully, and perhaps this paradox holds the key to our understanding. </p><p></p>
A River Made Us
Community, Environment, Sport/Adventure
When environmental activist and 7th-generation Tasmanian Mike Cassidy falls ill with terminal cancer, his daughter Heather returns home. As Mike retells old tales of a life spent fighting for the wilderness, Heather finds herself compelled to follow in his footsteps — to trek into the wild southwest and raft the Franklin River. To uncover his part in the greatest act of civil disobedience Australia has ever seen. It is the story of a community refusing to back down, fighting a corrupt government, and saving an environmental wonder that in the early 1980s came within a whisker of destruction. It is the famous fight to stop the Franklin Dam. Interweaving interviews and archival footage with a modern-day pilgrimage down one of the world’s most famous white water rivers, A River Made Us illuminates a profound moment in Australian history when environmentalism entered the mainstream. We discover stories from likely and unlikely participants, from Aboriginal Elders Jim Everett and Aunty Patsy Cameron to household names Dick Smith, David Bellamy, Bob Brown, and Prince Charles. All while Heather faces the gruelling physical and emotional challenge of the river, and all that it means. Directed by the award-winning Kasimir Burgess, the film uses the latest 4K technology to showcase the extraordinary landscape to a generation that, until now, has grown up without knowing the story of the Franklin. In a world besieged by environmental catastrophe, A River Made Us dares us to find hope in each other. We’ve won before. We can win again.