Can a film festival change the world? Find out this month
"We haven’t saved the world yet,” says Daniel Simons, drily, “but, we’re getting there.”
Simons is the national director of the Transitions Film Festival, which offers both cautionary and inspirational documentaries on people and ideas that are leading the way towards a better world.
“I say Transitions is two things,” says Simons. “One, it’s about the big trends that are shaping our future that we have to be aware of, like artificial intelligence, big data. And it’s about solutions to our global challenges, like climate change.”
Begun in Darwin seven years ago, Transitions Film Festival this year goes to Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Sydney and Perth.
From climate change to the threat of plastics in our oceans, from the revolutionary power of AI to the potential of a world without work, the films in this year’s program cover the ideas that will shape our lives for generations to come.
Simons talked us through are four amazing and appalling things you can expect to see in just in the festival:
1 The stomachs of dead seabirds, full of plastic.
Albatross is arguably the most powerful film in the festival. International artist Chris Jordan travelled to the island of Midway in the Pacific at a time when the albatrosses were away. He found thousands of decaying corpses – piles of feathers, bones and plastic. Says Simon: “Their stomachs are full of plastic because they are confusing plastic for food. It’s a huge issue.”
2 The universal basic income explained.
Free Lunch Society details the idea of an income for all and argues that it’s the next logical step in the progression of democracy. “It’s really interesting to me because I thought that a universal basic income was a new concept, but the film goes through where it’s been attempted before,” says Simons. “We’re going to have to have something [like it], because the robots are taking all our jobs.”
3 How the process of humans and machines merging has already begun.
Supersapiens: Rise of the Mind explores the mind-boggling implications of computers becoming more human and humans becoming more machinelike.”It has Sam Harris, Nick Bostrom, Elon Musk, Richard Dawkins, all the leaders in that field, raising the ethical questions of what’s going to happen. Artificial intelligence is now inevitable and some people are saying that humans will have to merge with machines to compete with machines.”
4 Some good news: how Australia’s OzHarvest is tackling food waste.
Opening night film Food Fighter is a profile of OzHarvest founder Ronni Khan, who started with one van and is now taking the food rescue model global. ”She is a force to be reckoned with, a go getter. She does events with Jamie Oliver and British royalty. She makes you feel that people can have a big impact."