World women lead environmental justice in Arise, the new film directed by Lori Joyce and Candice Orlando. Joyce has independently produced nine documentaries over the last 20 years including the Emmy nominated and award winning The Journey of Sacagawea, which aired nationally on PBS. Orlando worked as a production assistant on several award-winning productions. She hosted and narrated the PBS Peabody Award-winning Hearts & Minds: Teens and Mental Illness.
What was it like co-directing as mother and daughter? Did your relationship change or grow? What new perspectives have you gained?
CO: My mother and I have always had a close relationship but this film brought us together in beautiful ways. I came into the project with an activist’s view of the world and mom more of a spiritual outlook. So together we were able to bridge that gap and make a film that encompasses both spiritual and activist yearnings. I learned a lot working on this film with my mother because she knows a lot about film making and that was incredibly valuable.
LJ: Candice and I have a wonderful relationship as mother and daughter and as friends. We also connect very well creatively so co-directing was a pretty smooth collaboration. I do believe our relationship took on a new level of inspiration, courage and growth as we persevered through the many years it took us to get Arise to the screen.
I believe that worry is negative meditation & fear is a lack of faith. There were many times we simply had to push on, knowing that this film was extremely important and meant to be finished.
I was so inspired by the women in Arise. Has anyone sent you a progress update since the film was completed?
CO: Jessica Posner with Shinning Hope for Communities is doing amazing. They keep growing their programs and are working on building schools in other places. Majora Carter started her own business called the Majora Carter Group and is working to build green jobs in the South Bronx. Winona LaDuke is traveling like crazy and spreading her wisdom throughout the world. Starhawk just returned from a trip to Italy, talking to people about Slow Food, the Transition Movement and permaculture.
LJ: There is a page for our viewers to stay updated [and] get involved with the organizations founded by these amazing women.
The Guardian has reported that Ecuador plans to auction off much of its rainforest to Chinese oil firms. How do you hold on to hope and optimism when you hear news like this?
CO: As Maggie Fox says in the film, with every source of bad news there are five to 10 organizations that emerge that stand up for the rights of Mother Earth and her people. So I believe that the people will rise up and not allow this happen. The Ecuadorian people we met were strong and defenders of their home. They will fight and the world population will need to support them.
LJ: My hope comes from the knowledge that the people will rise up and not allow this to happen. We have done it before and we will do it again. Arise inspires people to take the kind of action needed to change themselves and the way we are living on the planet.
Cultures and customs are beautifully portrayed in Arise. What led you to take an ethnographic approach?
LJ: We wanted to honestly portray the diverse cultures, beauty and wonder of all who share the abundant blessings of our Mother Earth as well as the connections we all have to the Earth for our survival.
CO: Many documentaries focus on what the U.S. is doing to create change in response to climate change which allowed us to see the opportunity to show the world response to climate and environmental change and it is a beautiful one. I think when people see that people are creating change all over the world then they feel like they too can do something which is why we made Arise.
What new endeavors or films are you looking forward to?
LJ: It has been suggested by many audience members, distributors and our Executive Producer that there are more than enough stories of other amazing women working on environmental issues to create Arise 2. We also have enough footage from Ecuador that didn’t make it into Arise to make a short film. Right now, I am just really busy finding the right marketplace for Arise.