Read the latest reviews of books and films about building a better world.

Friday, 31 August, 2018

At an average of two metres above sea level, the Central Pacific nation of Kiribati has become one of climate change’s most visible victims. We follow Maria Tiimon as she pleads her country’s case to a painfully ambivalent international community. The Hungry Tide asks: if Kiribati is the climate change canary in the coal-mine, why are we still digging?


With many issues around the environment, the biggest challenge to fixing the problem is that cause and effect - and the perpetrator and victim - are so far removed from each other. Basically, we don't see the fish that chokes on our discarded plastic bag. In a similar way, the communities most affected by climate change are not the big polluters. 


The Hungry Tide looks at the toll man-made climate change has had on one such community: the Central Pacific nation of Kiribati. At an average of two metres above sea level, Kiribati's rising tides and increasing salinity threaten the lives and livelihoods of its 105,000 residents. The flim follows Mari Tiimon, a Kiribati woman living in Sydney, who takes the story of her country's plight to the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference and beyond. 


Tiimon is a wonderful character to travel with, even as we watch this horrible tragedy unfold. She's smart and funny, sweet and powerful, balancing the competing pressures of culture and modern advocacy. But throughout the film, we fear she's doomed to failure. We all know the apathy our larger economies can show to causes that aren't right in front of us. And these places are so small. As Australians, our part in this country's downfall is particularly shameful. 


The main question left at the end of The Hungry Tide is: if Kiribati is the canary in the coal-mine, why are we still digging? - Mark Russell



Wednesday, 28 February, 2018

The film sheds light on Frank Buchman's philosophy and experiences in creating peace in a cynical and war-torn world

Wednesday, 28 February, 2018

'The Man Who Built Peace' sheds light on Frank Buchman's philosophy and experiences in creating peace in a cynical and war-torn world. In essence, the film paints Buchman as an unsung hero who was deeply involved in spiritual and practical means of reconciling relations and healing wounds. His efforts in conflict resolution involving countries affected by World War II, including France, Germany, Japan and the Philippines, are central to the film’s narrative. Footage of actual events that took place in this process powerfully depict the importance of seeking and accepting forgiveness. The film shows his wisdom, passion for spiritual enlightenment and love for people. 'You can plan a new world on paper but you have to build it out of people,' Buchman argues.

Friday, 17 November, 2017

The Cambodian genocide is a subject we in the West are taught little, if anything, about. Any link between The Beatles and Pol Pot is tenuous at first glance but, as the 2014 documentary Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten shows, rock ’n’ roll was an effective weather vane for the political climate in ‘60s and ‘70s Cambodia. Initiatives of Change showcased Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten on Thursday 30 November at Armagh in Melbourne. The documentary is a philosophical corollary to its recent screening of Across the Universe (2007) – a musical built on Beatles songs, which follows two star-crossed lovers as they navigate the turbulence of the free-love era. In contrast, Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten offers a deeply affecting portrait of Cambodia’s descent into a dark revolution that would kill an estimated 25 per cent of the population.