The Wisdom to Survive
Climate Change, Capitalism & Community
Examines the challenges that climate change poses and discusses meaningful action that can be taken by individuals and communities.
Directed by John Ankele & Anne Macksoud
Videography: Michael Sacca
Music: Eugene Friesen - Cello
A film by Old Dog Documentaries
[Note: Community screenings of THE WISDOM TO SURVIVE can be booked at Bullfrog Communities.]
"A powerful witness to the possibility of change as we awaken to the remarkable beauty of our planet." John Grim, Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology
THE WISDOM TO SURVIVE accepts the consensus of scientists that climate change has already arrived, and asks, what is keeping us from action? The film explores how unlimited growth and greed are destroying the life support system of the planet, the social fabric of the society, and the lives of billions of people.
Will we have the wisdom to survive? The film features thought leaders and activists in the realms of science, economics and spirituality discussing how we can evolve and take action in the face of climate disruption. They urge us to open ourselves to the beauty that surrounds us and get to work on ensuring it thrives.
Amongst those featured are Bill McKibben, Joanna Macy, Roger Payne, Richard Heinberg, Gus Speth, Stephanie Kaza, Nikki Cooley and Ben Falk.
Grade Level: 9-12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2014
Copyright Date: 2014
DVD ISBN: 1-56029-038-2
"A stirring call-to-arms, The Wisdom to Survive juxtaposes the stunning beauty, diversity and inter-connectedness of the natural world, with the desolate, soulless, perpetual growth machine of capitalism. Refreshingly clear-sighted in its analysis of the systemic roots of our ecological crisis, combining stunning photography with interviews from leading figures in the movement for climate justice...The film should be watched by all those who wish to understand humanity's multi-faceted ecological crisis, and how we might avert planetary ecocide, by acting collectively to replace the system which produced it."
Christopher Williams, Author, Ecology and Socialism: Solutions to Capitalistic Ecological Crisis, Adjunct Professor of Chemistry and Physical Science, Pace University, Chair of the Science Department, Packer Collegiate
"Recommended...Skillfully covers a lot of ground in a short amount of time...The film is an impassioned plea for awareness and action. Recommended for general audiences looking for practical and innovative ways to break the cycle of unsustainable growth and planet destruction."
Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Educational Media Reviews Online
"The Wisdom to Survive is an exquisitely-filmed documentary that presents an overview of the climate crisis, including its causes, effects, and directions of hope. Poignant scenes illustrate the sacred beauty of the natural world, the tragedy of its diminishment, and our human interconnectedness with the rest of creation. Indigenous leaders, people from poor and vulnerable nations, scientists, scholars, religious leaders, activists, farmers, and poets make the case for 'climate justice' and point in the direction of hope. Do we have the wisdom to survive? The answer is related to community. We are connected by our shared grief at what is happening to the earth and by our shared hope and commitment to the future."
Rev. Sharon Delgado, co-founder and Executive Director of Earth Justice Ministries
"The Wisdom to Survive is both instructive and inspiring. It combines incisive scientific and social analysis regarding anthropogenic climate change, while raising important existential and ethical questions. At the same time, it shows people working in practical, transformational, and imaginative ways to bring about a fundamentally different and more just and sustainable world, and thus provides very helpful food for thought in terms of where to go from here and now."
Joseph Nevins, Associate Professor of Geography, Chair of Earth Science and Geography, Vassar College
"This is a starkly prophetic film. It combines the direst of warnings with deep love of life. Better than any other film I know, it makes clear that our profit-oriented growth economy has caused the climate catastrophe and cannot itself rescue us from disaster. We need new thinking and a new way of life."
Tom F. Driver, Paul Tillich Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology, Union Theological Seminary
"The Wisdom to Survive offers thoughtful and comprehensive reflections on the ecological and economic state of the planet from academics and activists around the world. From farming to laissez-faire capitalism to energy, the film explores the interconnections underlying climate change, and points to systems thinking and interdependency as pathways to much needed social change."
Dr. Christine Shearer, Author of Kivalina: A Climate Change Story, Postdoctoral Scholar of Earth Systems Science at UC Irvine
"The expansionary dynamic of capitalism is driving the ever increasing use of fossil fuels, and we need to create alternative forms of life and interaction with the natural world that are more sustainable. The film makes this point very well. The video quality and photography are excellent, and the pace of the movie is reassuring and gentle."
Dr. Robert Brulle, Professor of Sociology and Environmental Science, Drexel University, Co-author, Power, Justice, and the Environment: A Critical Appraisal of the Environmental Justice Movement
"I hope the film can travel everywhere and impact others' lives as it has ours. I felt in the immensity of the material there was a movement--a narrative line--toward something of great significance. The images of people all over the world 'pushing back' stay with me. We are one family of beings on this planet. Your film shows us that."
Sara Norton, Faculty, Health, Arts and Sciences, Sustainability, Goddard College
"This film is deeply moving and profoundly engaging. Indeed, it has the potential to transform lives because it provides visions of how we should live in the midst of massive environmental challenges. I cannot recommend it more highly!"
Mary Evelyn Tucker, Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology
"While demonstrating the enormous challenges of our times this film also calls for transformation. It is a powerful witness to the possibility of change as we awaken to the remarkable beauty of our planet."
John Grim, Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology
"The beauty of this film is that it calls me out of the closet. To shake off whatever cultural baggage there is that inhibits me from admitting to those around me that I care...Wisdom to Survive breathes life into the movement to love, defend, and lend helping hands to the one planet home we have. This film honors the wisdom of youth, scientists, clergy, activists, indigenous peoples, artists and you...If you are haunted by the stupid thought that heroics are needed to save the planet and you think, 'I'm no hero,' then this film will help you forget that nonsense."
Jim Merkel, Author, Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth, Director of the Global Living Project
"I was deeply moved by this film...I feel inspired that there is still hope, and that I can join with good people out there who are doing good things to join up with. The film is absolutely a call to action."
Dr. Emma Bragdon, Director, Integrative Mental Health University
"A short, visually beautiful, and philosophically warm and uplifting movie...We need a big movement, which means we need massive involvement. You can even begin with a screening of this film."
Karie Firoozmand, Friends Journal
"Narrators suggest ways to make a difference, with the next decades as turbulent but exciting times. This film could be used to spark discussion in environmental science classes and in ethics and government courses as well."
Maggie Knapp, School Library Journal
"What is the alternative to blind adherence to a profit-oriented growth economy, and how can it reasonably be put into practice?...The Wisdom to Survive is a thought-provoking call to moral and spiritual arms."
The Midwest Book Review
"Marvelous and moving. Beautiful work."
Fran Korten, Yes! Magazine
"Brilliant, achingly poignant...Please SEE THIS FILM - bring it to your community, talk about it, share it with others. It is one of the most artfully-rendered films on the planet's crisis (and how we move through it) I have ever seen...extraordinarily moving."
Shyla Nelson, One Earth-One Voice
"The Wisdom to Survive offers the most inspiring, enlightening, creative, and practical overview of the spiritual dimensions of climate change that we've seen...The filmmakers hurrah the energy and curiosity of kids and the creativity of youth who are stirring things up with permaculture, alternative fuel options, and city gardens. They focus on the commitment to protect Mother Earth evident in Native American movements to protect their water rights. From activists in South Africa and India, we learn about the food justice movement and the importance of women farmers."
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spiritualty and Practice
"The impact of the film continues to influence and ripple outwards...[It] has been so helpful in sustaining energy through campaigning, particularly through the re-framing of the ecological crisis as an adventure which can be sustained through feeling into the earth's beauty. So blessed to have these wisdom teachings to flavor activism in a whole new light."
Lindsay Alderton, Dharma Action Network for Climate Engagement (DANCE)
"I appreciated the balance of the reality of the situation with a feeling of hope and connection."
Kat Robbins, Place-Based Education Specialist, Woodstock, Vermont
"Wisdom to Survive is both inspirational and beautiful. The spokespeople are interesting, articulate, and positive too, with their uniting message that something can be done about climate change. The visuals are extraordinary...Beauty will save the world."
Rev. John Barrett, Westcenter Congregational Church, Bronxville, NY
DVDs include public performance rights.
includes SDH captions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.
The Producers' Website
Host a community screening
Foundation Earth - A new think tank to bring an earth-centered economy into reality.
Awards and Festivals
Best in Show, Cinema Verde Environmental Film Festival
Jury Award, Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival
Silver Springs International Film Festival
Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital
One Earth Film Festival
Green Mountain Film Festival
Byron Bay International Film Festival
Sustainable Living Film Festival, Turkey
Greenbuild Film Festival
Project Native Environmental Film Festival
SunChild International Film Festival, Armenia
Citizenship and Civics
Climate Change/Global Warming
Oceans and Coasts
Tells the story of Tim DeChristopher's extraordinary, ingenious and effective act of civil disobedience drawing attention to the need for action on climate change.
Portrays the life and work of the famous eco-theologian.
Force Of Nature
Inspirational distillation of the life, thoughts and legacy of famed Canadian scientist, broadcaster and activist, David Suzuki.
An Ecology of Mind
A daughter's loving film portrait of one of the 20th century's most influential thinkers, Gregory Bateson, anthropologist, systems theorist and ecologist.
The Age of Stupid
An old man (Pete Postlethwaite) living in a devastated world, watches 'archive' footage from today and asks: Why didn't we stop climate change when we had the chance?
Standing on Sacred Ground
In this 4-part series, indigenous people from eight different cultures stand up for their traditional sacred lands in defense of cultural survival, human rights and the environment.
A Sea Change
Ocean acidification threatens over one million species with extinction--and with them, our entire way of life.
A report from the front lines of climate change in Kenya, India, Canada, the Arctic, China, and Montana where people's lives have already been dramatically altered.
Examines the media strategies, on both sides, that have resulted in the US government's failure to take decisive action on global warming.
A Fierce Green Fire
The documentary of record on the environmental movement.
Fire and Ice
From the Gamo Highlands of Ethiopia to the Andes of Peru, indigenous highland communities battle threats to their forests, farms, and faith.
... more Reviews
"I found this film powerful and inspiring...It calms me to know that there are people thinking about this, taking the 'deep view,' and doing what can be done to change the underlying paradigm of nature and people as commodities to be mined for profits. We can't know all the answers, we are stuck, I think, with living the questions. It will be great for stimulating discussion."
Anne McCollum, Psychologist
"The videography is spectacular. The message is beautifully conveyed - kind of a moral root canal with some anesthetic but not enough to obscure the real problem. You get to the heart of the matter."
Ora Wry, Musician, Activist, Providence, Rhode Island
"Beautiful, Heartbreaking, Urgent."
Rob Herring, Organicsoul.com
"Phenomenal. I firmly believe that it will serve to catalyze necessary spiritual, social, and intellectual transformations, and hasten global progress in building a sustainable world."
Jamie Konopacky, Representative for Sustainable Development, US Baha'i Office of Public Affairs
"How can we, as teachers in the global North, face the calamity of human-induced disruptions in our present and future in a way that doesn't immobilize and drive ourselves and our students to despair?...This film emphasizes the role of art, beauty, witnessing, and suffering in the face of pain...The larger feminist issue is one of connection and relationality, especially with indigenous solidarity movements. This film is thus particularly useful in an upper-level feminist or environmental studies class where it can be paired with other readings on traditional ecological knowledge and environmental justice."
Julie Sze, Films for the Feminist Classroom