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By Nathan M. Walters, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Throughout history, cinema has played an important role in furthering social issues.  The influence of the medium has made a dramatic impact on Environmentalism, notably with Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and more recently with Carioca director João Amorim’s 2012: Time for Change.  

João Amorim's 2012: Time for Change, Rio+20, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
2012: Time for Change premier with Pinchbeck, Sting, and Amorim (right), photo by João Amorim.

The director took a break from his busy Rio +20 schedule to talk with The Rio Times about cinema, environmentalism, and solar energy.

The film, 2012: Time for Change, Amorim’s first feature-length animated documentary, which includes international icons, David Lynch, Sting, Paul Stamets, and Gilberto Gil, among others, has been hailed by Reuters as one of the ten films behind Occupy Wall Street movement.  

Based in part on the books of American author Daniel Pinchbeck, the film presents positive ideas framed around the conscious awakening prophecies that are theorized to happen in 2012.

Yet, the film is not targeted towards an esoteric audience, instead, as all successful environmentalists projects should now be, is aimed at finding practical solutions. “2012 was focused on solutions, trying to create a plausible method while at the same time opening people’s eyes,” says Amorim.  

“There has been an almost paralyzing culture of fear built around the climate crisis. When people think like this it makes it very difficult to motivate them to make a change.  We wanted to change the public’s perception of the 2012 doomsday prophecies.”

Amorim’s work with the film was key to developing projects in other areas of environmentalism, particularly his work in reforestation and urban permaculture projects.  “When I was working on the movie I was educating myself on the issues, taking workshops, becoming more involved in what was happening.  It was a great learning opportunity and has lead me to a lot of the projects I am doing now.”

Complexo do Alemão, Rio+20, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
The community is leading the project in Complexo do Alemão, photo by João Amorim.

In his current position with the Botanical Garden of Brasília, Amorim is focusing on development projects that can make a real difference in people’s lives.  

At a recent Rio+20 presentation at the Museum of Modern Art (MAM), the director shared information about the current pilot project of urban permaculture and agroforestry systems in the Complexo do Alemão: Rio+20 Rio+Verde.

This program, with the support of the NGO Ciclo Sustainable, is focused on finding practical sustainable solutions addressing waste treatment, solar heating, and food forests throughout Brazil.  

“Our work in Complexo do Alemão was done with the input of the people, we met with the community to understand their needs and developed a practical and effective plan based on their input.”

For Amorim, the will of the people is what is the most important in finding solutions to the environmental issues that now threaten the globe.  His work in cinema and on the ground with projects like Rio+20 Rio+Verde push the idea that government’s decision are not enough to make the changes necessary to make a difference.

“Rio+20 is not about a legally binding document, it has a different dynamic from ’92.  Now is the time to move from awareness to action.  In ’92 environmentalist issues were just starting to be discussed in Brazil, now people know. So the question becomes, what can we do?”

Amorim continues: “[…] the fact is there are a lot of things that can be done, programs that need to start and then be scaled up to make a real impact.  We live in a instant gratification culture, but most of the projects that are going to make a real difference are not going to happen overnight.”

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