James Redford Is Encouraged by Our Changing Attitude Towards Renewable Energy
By Bradford William Davis
In Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution, director James Redford chronicles the steady embrace of alternative energy across the United States. After the DOC NYC screening, Redford shared his thoughts on the inspiring, even surprising progress he discovered while working on this film:
On making a positive documentary about environmentalism:
Redford: This film is a product of the Redford Center, a non-profit media company in San Francisco. Our films try to problem-solve. Look at problems, but wrestle with solutions as well. That's our focus, and Happening is an extension of that.
I thought there were convincing documentaries that were proving climate change was real. But I just felt there's a certain desensitization that happens when you lose hope. I'm not trying to do a con job here; I just looked around, did some research, and found a lot of good things going on! There was a narrative that wasn't being told, and I chose to highlight that.
How the current political climate impacts the film:
Redford: Who knows? Would Hillary Clinton have pulled us out of the Paris Climate Accord? No. Would she hire EPA-hating lawyers to run the EPA? No. But if you look at the details of foreign policy, even historically, it hasn't really been an inspired landscape on this issue.
But the economics are working in the favor of people, which helps avoid the partisanship. If you're a local or state level politician, you're color-blind when the economics work in your favor.
A delay that worked in Happening?s favor:
Redford: I started out pretty jaundiced about the political process when I started this film. What hooked me into wanting to tell the story was that I saw the economic argument winning. I thought it interesting to explore something that was beneficial and didn't involve the political game. I was most inspired by the legislative response in Nevada. That was a big surprise! The movie took longer than we expected, but the delay allowed us to include their change in attitude.