Sundance Best Documentary nominated film “How to Change the World” tracks the Greenpeace story harking back to a group of comrades who set sail into the Bering Sea to stop nuclear testing on islands west of Alaska in 1971. Amongst them; Vancouver Sun columnist Bob Hunter, a media-savvy journo who had brought his 16mm camera to document their voyage. Hunter captured the whole expedition on film from the regular maintenance of their vessel to when they encountered Nixon’s galleys.
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Although the testing went ahead, this group of radical youths caused so much negative attention towards the US government that all nuclear testing in the islands was scrapped from there on out. Flushed with success, Hunter and his team turned to directing a new campaign against offenders in the poorly policed world of whale hunting, swayed by new recruit, marine-biologist Paul Spong.
The film follows Hunter’s career as he pioneers Greenpeace and shows the origins and power of a new idea, the marriage of peace activism and environmentalism, and the conflict and trauma for those involved. Controversy has arisen about the mission of Greenpeace in more recent years with the splitting of original crew members Patrick Moore and Paul Watson. Both men give engaging anecdotes about their time spent as part of Greenpeace and their beliefs on what needs to be done for the environmental group to continue into the future.
Director Jerry Rothwell (Deep Water, 2006) uses beautifully remastered 16mm footage captured by Hunter along with interviews recollecting the group’s journeys on the high seas over the years. “How to Change the World” is an exhilarating watch that underscores what a different place the earth could be today without the likes of theses young environmental activists and the movement they pioneered in the early 1970’s.