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Chicago Hosts “This Changes Everything” Film Screening

Image by "This Changes Everything"

Image by “This Changes Everything”

This article was originally published on Oct. 26, 2015.

On Tuesday, Oct. 20, Music Box Theatre in Chicago, Ill. was sold out for the nationwide release of “This Changes Everything,” a film based off of Naomi Klein’s book by the same title, and narrated by her. The film was shown that night in over 50 cities across the U.S., and Klein and Avi Lewis, her husband and the director of the film, chose to spend the night in Chicago.

Klein’s book, subtitled Capitalism vs. The Climate, was released in 2014 and awarded the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction, was named the Observer Book of the Year and earned recognition as one of the New York Times Book Review 100 Books of the Year.

Klein, a Canadian, writes for The Nation; she covered the Iraq War and has written many books about globalization and neoliberalism. She published No Logo in 1999 about brands and Fences and Windows: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Globalization Debate with Debra Levy in 2002, and co-edited War With No End in 2007 about the War on Terror. In many ways she sees her newest book as the sequel to her 2007 book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, which analyzes how U.S. economists and governments take advantage of economic and ecological disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina and austerity, to impose its own neoliberal capitalist system, often causing more damage. In This Changes Everything, she argues that climate change is driven by capitalism; while it is a crisis, she also sees it as an opportunity to create a new culture.

She and Lewis also co-directed The Take, a 2004 documentary about Argentine auto workers taking over abandoned factories. Lewis’s film credits include “Counterspin,” “The Big Picture with Avi Lewis,” “On the Map,” “Why Democracy?,” “Inside America,” and “Politics of Race.”

Unlike most climate change films that thrive on despair, this film is driven by positive resistance efforts, following different grassroots movements around the world. The Beaver Lake Cree Nation is suing the Canadian and Alberta governments for violating treaty rights for the biggest industrial project on Earth, the Alberta Tar Sands. A couple living on a goat farm in Montana’s Powder River Basin experience a tragic oil spill that taints their water. Volunteers from Occupy Sandy respond to Hurricane Sandy, setting up medical and other relief where the government fails. The smog in Beijing prevents people from leaving their houses, sometimes for more than half a year. South Indians fight off coal plant companies. The Halkidiki community in Greece fight off the Canadian gold corporation Eldorado.

Following the film, Klein and Lewis took a few questions from the audience. They opened by celebrating the Canadian election results announced the night before; Stephen Harper, known for supporting fossil fuel development, was replaced by Justin Trudeau of the Liberal Party.

One audience member asked how many African-Americans were in the audience; a few people raised their hands. He then made the point that whites are the minority in Chicago, and that climate change activism is still white and middle class. “I don’t see anyone from Africa in this film. We’re not in it,” he said. Lewis responded by admitting, “You’re right.” He then went on to say they originally tried to visit Mali to film the land grabs, but political unrest prevented that. More importantly, though, they emphasized that the climate justice movement aims to “address deep historical wrongs” in a “deliberate way,” as Klein said. One example is the Leap Manifesto, an influential document drafted by many groups in Toronto, including Black Lives Matter Toronto, to guide the country’s transition to a new economy and culture. The document stresses that “sacrifice zones become empowered zones,” as Klein said, adding that urgent crises must lead to positive job infrastructure. “We need this as a guiding principle for any just transition,” she added.

In the introduction, Klein and Lewis had mentioned in passing the recent development of petroleum coke (also known as petcoke) pollution in the South Side Chicago. The Southeast Side, once home of the steel industry, now hosts KCBX Terminals, part of Koch Industries. Chicago’s petcoke is produced in Whiting, Ind. in refineries processing tar sands delivered from Alberta. Wind displaces piles of the oily, powdery substance, coating everything, negatively affecting public health. In 2013, the city passed an ordinance giving KCBX two years to enclose the piles; the company tried hosing them down, which was ineffective.

While they sarcastically apologized as Canadians, two members of frontline community in the South Side Chicago interrupted them, walking towards the stage. Lewis gave them his microphone. “Leave the North Side and some to the South Side. I invite you to come to our neighborhood,” one of them said. “If this gets you jazzed up, we have a place for you to fight this.”

After applause, Klein apologized for her earlier dismissive remark, saying “it is a travesty and fills us with shame,” thanking them for speaking up. The event ended with a book signing.

Lena Wright’16 attended the event. Though she hadn’t read the book, she hopes to soon. “It made me want to do something,” she said of the film.

Neither filmmaker claim this is the definitive film on climate change, and both praise the efforts of these grassroots communities. As Lewis said in his introduction, “Films and books don’t change the world, movements do.”

Sources: The Guardian, This Changes Everything, TruthOut

One thought on “Chicago Hosts “This Changes Everything” Film Screening”

  1. Barbara Ann Jackson says:

    Due to becoming New Orleans FORCED-EXILED Katrina disaster victims, it was (and still is) urgent for us to understand & expose how and why Shell Corporations, Foundations, Nonprofits, “pass-through” agreements, and “collaborations”–WITHOUT ADEQUATE GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT— were allowed to create programs, receive government contracts and funding –through means such as McKinney-Vento, Robert T. Stafford Disaster Act funds, and residual Class Action Settlement CyPres funds. It is alarmingly and troubling to find out that vast amounts of charities, shell corporations, foundations, and not-for-profit businesses are established, controlled, and / or tied to law firms, judges and politicians –and evolve around the Stafford Act Disaster Legal Services -42 U.S.C. 5182.

    In addition to money laundering, tax evasion, deceptive business practices, and unfair competition, those such charities, foundations, and Shell Corporations impede innumerable Americans from even recovering from disasters. Fraudulent nonprofit operations also foster social anger, violence, road rage, poverty, homelessness, disintegrated households, public mental disorder –all of which enhances those nonprofits’ OPPORTUNITIES FOR DEVISING social programs and receiving government funding under a guise of assisting societal conditions. Moreover, there are Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), that receive McKinney-Vento, FEMA and HUD funding –and “partner with,” “collaborate with” sham legitimate and illegitimate nonprofits.

    Plus, fiscal sponsorship allows a newly-created charity, Foundation, Shell Corporation, program, project to come under the umbrella of an existing tax-exempt organization. These types of NONPROFIT ABUSES are rampant in communities where Politically-connected CHURCHES & LEADERS benefit from unentitled tax exemptions, private inurement, charter schools, no-bid jobs and careers for their family members, vendor kickbacks, political positions and jobs in the public for certain loyal (and even snitching) church members, etc. SEE:… . Also: “Census Finds Post-Katrina New
    Orleans Richer, Whiter, Emptier”….

    One vivid factual example of Shell Corporation deceit tied to legal professionals and politicians, (it alerted me to NGO recipients of Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) money, and “disasters,” “homelessness” and “at-risk-youth and families,” activity), are two data collection and surveillance companies: “LSNDC” and “Bowman Internet System.” What alarmed me about both companies –aside from the fact that scores of NGOs are linked to those two companies– is that both appear to be managed and / or controlled by several politicians and judiciaries.

    Anonymous Shell Corporations and Nonprofit illegal activity requires inventing ways to secretly accumulate money in a manner that precludes exposing the people involved, and types of activities in which they’re engaged. Secrecy and money laundering entails disguising their sources, diversifying their funding, rearranging and placing money in locations where it is unlikely to attract attention. Toward curbing CHARITIES FRAUD that exploits and destroys people and businesses the Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act S. 2489/H.R. 4450 should have been long ago enacted.

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