[Note: This review covers "Garbage Warrior" and "Fighting Goliath: Texas Coal Wars" plus a Q and A with director Mat Hames]
Government from the outside in and inside out
We all know government to be a large part of the problem. But government is unavoidably critical to any solution. The Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival showcases stories that not only show how people make a difference, they show different ways to gain political traction.
In the film, “Garbage Warrior,” a wildcat architect does more than hack a path to a sustainable future. He figures out how he must work within the system that would otherwise shut him down completely.
Yes, there’s good reason for lawmakers to make rules that govern a developer who would construct homes not connected to the electrical grid, the water grid, or the sewage grid. There’s good reason to skeptically monitor an oddball character building homes from discarded tires and plastic bottles. Mike Reynolds, himself, freely admits there can be some serious kinks he hasn’t worked out yet.
Watch how Reynolds puts on a jacket and tie and trail blazes inside the corridors of power. Learn how innovation can visit government and leave as something like a partner in a vision of the future.
This activist individual makes for an entertaining, inspiring, and radically practical environmentalist story.
In the film, “Fighting Goliath: Texas Coal Wars,” the activism churns from a place you might not expect. In this story, government stands up to the economic juggernaut of big, bad, dirty coal. Thirty mayors fight against proposals to build 11 new coal-powered plants. Spearheaded by the mayors of Dallas and Arlington, among others, they orchestrate the clout that rural locales could never muster.
Imagine, government leaders acting like leaders, like leaders with the health and well being of the people in mind, like leaders who understand that getting things done outside their jurisdiction helps everybody.
“Fighting Goliath” employs a fairly mundane documentary style about a familiar enemy of true progress, but the film does well constructing a 30 minute awareness raiser with government in a starring role as one of the good guys.
- - - - - Q and A with "Fighting Goliath" directory Mat Hames - - - - -
Excerpted from a discussion between film reviewer, Chuck Jaffee, and the director of “Fighting Goliath: Texas Coal Wars,” Mat Hames:
Chuck Jaffee: My favorite thing about this film is that the underdogs have way more than a sling shot in this fight. Government leaders show real leadership in this joining of forces. Why did this happen?
Mat Hames: The push for so many coal new plants was so over the top. All these Texas mayors saw how it was going to affect the air quality everywhere. They also rallied the people around concerns like train lines that would run through their property.
CJ: Of course the biggest problem is not letting down for years and years and staying on top of every moment of this kind of fight. How’s it looking?
MH: It’s looking pretty positive. There’s more dialog. Fast tracking permits is less of something they’re able to get away with. These mayors have constructed an effective model. And this film is a tool in the box.
CJ: Would you say that the coal industry is about the dirtiest biggest place to find a proper path to the future?
MH: Definitely. We should be pouring efforts into everything other than coal.
CJ: Talk Texas with me. Is it possible that Texas is actually a more likely place for such activism to happen?
MH: Texans don’t like to feel powerless. Texans err on the side of less regulation. This fight wasn’t a top down regulation kind of thing. It was done by these mayors, and it was done by working the grass roots.
CJ: OK, you have to tell me about the Robert Redford factor in this film. He narrates the film, a pretty low key presence. Did he have much involvement beyond being the narrator?
MH: Actually it was Redford’s center at Sundance that had brought together a lot of these mayors at Sundance, and this led to making the film. We knew we needed the characters to carry the story, but when Robert Redford offers to narrate, you don’t turn that down.