The projects you present in the film are regional. What about concerted global action?
Your question shows how we see the world. We see it as a big structure with the power concentrated at the top. And we think that to change the whole system we have to change something at the top of the pyramid. But that is not how it works. The people at the top who hold the power are not the ones who are willing to change. We believe that we should take our inspiration from nature and, particularly, ecosystems instead. There is no one in charge in an ecosystem, each component bears responsibility for it. So we must start the process of change in ourselves.
But how can we know that enough is being done to avoid the collapse?
Nobody knows the extent of the impact that all of these initiatives will have. The people we met aren’t doing what they do because they want to save the world and they don’t calculate the impact they make. They’re simply doing the best they can. It’s about setting an example to get as many people as possible on board.
Some of the initiatives, for example the one in Detroit, arose because the situation had reached rock bottom. Do we need to experience a complete collapse before we take action? If so, Switzerland is a long way from active change…
Everything does not have to be in ruins for new initiatives to emerge. But ask yourself: when do you make fundamental changes? When you experience a crisis. Many of the people in the film experienced some kind of crisis before launching these initiatives. Some of the regions we visited had experienced deindustrialisation on a massive scale. But we also wanted to find another way of encouraging change: through people’s individual desire and will. We wanted the audience to think “I want to live like that too, I want to have a more meaningful life.”
Why do you focus on initiatives in the western world like recycling in San Francisco?
We wanted cinema-goers in the western world to be able to identify with these activists. And we wanted people from other regions to realise that the western world understands the need to change things. For decades we’ve been sending out the message that our economic model is the best and only one. Everybody wants to live like we do, and lots of countries are destroying their evolved structures to follow our lead. We want to send out a different message: don’t try to live like a French or American person. You have valuable structures. And maybe we can embark on this path together to try to be more autonomous and interact in a different way.
Your film starts with an example of an initiative from the food sector, then moves on to energy, economy and democracy, and ends in the education sector. Why did you approach it in this order?
Food is our primary need. According to the studies on the possible collapse of civilisation, it is most likely to arise as a result of a breakdown in the food supply. We wanted to show that everything is linked. When we speak about food, we quickly become aware of our dependence on the powerful oil system. In relation to energy, we see that many regions are not able to participate in the energy transition because they are so indebted and ask ourselves why. So we delved into the area of economics and found some solutions. But we also saw that business takes power away from the democracy and asked ourselves: “How can we get the power back?” The examples we found only work because people are really taking their responsibility for society seriously. And this is something we should learn at school.