The Transitions Film Festival is dedicated to showcasing inspirational documentaries about the social and technological innovations, revolutionary ideas and trailblazing change-makers that are leading the way to a better world.

The Transitions Film Festival returns to Melbourne this February, with an expanded program of world-changing documentaries. The Festival kicks off on Friday 13th February with an open air screening of Inside Out :The People’s Art Project at Testing Grounds and runs until the first week of March. The program features a Projector Bike ride and outdoor screening at Argyle Square in Carlton, as well as free films on the Big Screen at Federation Square, and a jam-packed program at Cinema Nova, including 11 national premieres and 4 Australian documentary features.

Highlights of this year’s festival include the fascinating film Inside Out:The People’s Art Project which follows the TED prize-winning artist JR on his adventure to blanket entire cities with community generated art; Black Ice, a gripping tale of the Greenpeace Arctic 30’s capture and imprisonment by the Russian authorities; Yes Men Are Revolting, the long anticipated sequel from the hilariously fearless serial pranksters the Yes Men; and Merchants of Doubt, a powerful exposé of the fossil fuel industry’s employment of spin doctors to deliberately mislead all of us about climate science.

The Festival turns itself inside out with a series of Projector Bike shorts being beamed onto walls and buildings across Melbourne, a free open air screening of Within Reach at Argyle Square in Carlton, and a showing of the B-Corp film Not Business as Usual at Melbourne’s first social enterprise bar, Shebeen.

The program also features a series of films revolving around the life-cycle (and the will to transcend it) including Alive Inside, a powerful film about one man’s quest to use music to bring joy back to dementia patients; A Will For The Woods, an exploration of the green burial movement; an intimate portrait of a doctor with lymphoma and his quest to organise a green burial for himself; Immortalists, which delves into the fascinating world of the brilliant and eccentric scientists who are on the cusp of making eternal life a reality; and Surviving Earth which throws its gaze at the life cycle of our entire species, highlights the severity of our predicament, and offers solutions.

The Transitions Film Festival runs from 24th February through to 6th March 2015, at Cinema Nova, and features 17 feature films, including 11 Australian premieres, and lots of panel discussions and Q&As with visiting filmmakers.

Filmmaker Heidi Douglas and 19 other co-defendants were sued by woodchipping giant Gunns Ltd. Heidi documented her personal story during this David versus Goliath like struggle that consumed her life for five years. The 30 minute documentary Defendant 5 screens at the Transitions Film Festival. Greg spoke to Heidi to find out more about this documentary.

Filmmaker Amy Browne investigates the concept of “green burials” in the documentary A Will For The Woods, which screens at the Transitions Film Festival at the Cinema Nova in March. Greg spoke to Amy to find out more about the film.





This documentary from Robert Kenner (the muck raking but eye opening Food Inc, etc) looks as how major corporations have hired spin doctors to mislead the public about serious health and environmental concerns. It is not a new practice though, as this documentray traces such subterfuge back to the 1950s. Just as the cigarette companies spent millions of dollars on advertising campaigns to make smoking look glamorous and to deny that smoking caused cancer, so too does the fossil fuel industry employ spin doctors to deliberately mislead us about the science behind climate change. These powerful special interest groups pay experts to call into question scientific research and cast doubt on their findings. Kenner’s documentary offers up some real life versions of the sort of slick character played by Aaron Eckhart in Thank You For Smoking. The film is inspired by the nonfiction book written by Naomi Oreskes and Eric M Conway, and Kenner presents the sometimes shocking revelations with a dose of snarky humour, lots of nicely integrated archival footage, talking head interview, and some clever animated sequences. And he bookcases the film with some input from magician Jamy Ian Swiss, who explains how misdirection can be useful in deceiving the gullible public. He draws a link between the subterfuge used by a magician and the deceit used by spin doctors to obfuscate some uncomfortable truths and delay action. But the film becomes a little bogged down when the focus turns to climate change and tackles those so-called experts who prevent action to try and reverse the effects of global warming. And in exploring these inconvenient truths Kenner seems to be speaking to the converted already.


The Yes Men are Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, two comedians and serial pranksters who crash conferences and corporate events with clever stunts aimed at embarrassing international coprporations and highlighting problems facing the world, like global warming and the economic collapse. They were first profiled in the 2003 documentary Yes Men, and in this latest documentary they are still sounding warning bells. They take on the powerful lobby group the US Chamber of Commerce and Shell Oil. But the film also looks at many important environmental issues such as oil fields in indigenous lands in Canada that has serious repercussions, as well as the melting of the Arctic ice cap and the Occupy Wall Street movement. They even take on a climate conference in Cophenagen with amusing results. And there is also a look at the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy and the aftermath. Despite the limited budget the pair get their message across through the use of humour and media attention grabbing stunts. They have also been threatened with legal action on numerous occasions, although so far they have never been sued. In this entertaining film, veteran documentary filmmaker Laura Nix (who first worked with the duo on their 2009 documentary The Yes Men Fix The World) also probes into the personal lives of Bichlbaum and Bonanno, to give some insight into their motivations. But these sequences looking at their private life away from the corporate battlefield lack the same sense of urgency, and unnecessarily pad out the running time. And the filmmakers cast a wide net here so that the material ultimately seems to lack a strong central focus and the message is watered down.


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