Sust Enable: The Metamentary
Sust Enable: The Metamentary asks the question “what does sustainability mean?” at all levels of the film’s construction. We ask interviewees, of course, but we also ask ourselves, throughout the process of making the film. We examine the claims of our participants regarding features shared by any sustainable system, and explore the meaning of such claims at the story’s level, the stylistic construction, and the holistic production itself within the real world (as the process of creating any film implicates people, materials, and ecosystem.) We will also try to listen to feedback carefully and adapt our process as it goes, to continually improve our own emerging understanding of sustainability.
The film’s story will examine my life for how well it naturally incorporates the various “features of sustainability.” The film’s driving question is: what defines sustainability–or can it be defined? The film is guaranteed to be rife with twists and challenges in both the narrative and the aesthetic experience, as–just like in defining sustainability–all facts and claims of objectivity are up for debate.
Our mission is to give thorough and adequate treatment to the topic of sustainability in the documentary film medium. We hope that in doing so, we will make difficult or esoteric ideas about sustainability more accessible to discussion among Americans by translating them into an artfully-told, emotionally-impacting story. We firmly believe that the more people engaged in actively determining the meaning of sustainability in terms of their own lives and communities, the more viable a sustainable world becomes.
To close, I’d like to share a word–and a vision–with you that I find beautiful. It’s a word that many people probably will not have heard of yet, but it’s part of a vocabulary that is currently being developed for the purpose of communicating effectively around our newly globalized perspective (the parallel process in cinema is developing new cinema language to communicate our experiences.)
“Eudemony,” a word commonly found in texts discussing sustainability, describes the relative measure of overall improvement of a complex system.7 We may be able to achieve a greater global eudemony–including ecological and social concerns–if we develop a deeper self-awareness of ourselves as societies, as a species, as a form of life, as a component in the biosphere, and so forth. Paradoxically, this should include a growing awareness about the limits of our human-scale perception. Eudemony does not denote harmony, consensus, utopia or equilibrium. We live in a dynamic world, and our process to define global eudemony has only just begun.
However, it is fair to say that global eudemony would be contingent on more and more of us gaining access to information about both the dynamic state of the biosphere and the content of the human noosphere.8 Film is perhaps one of our best tools for accomplishing this because, unlike academic literature, legal declarations, or other forms that are available only to educated people, the video medium tells stories, in a way that is most like our psychological experiencing of the world, therefore making it emotionally accessible across language, education and cultural barriers. Plus, video is becoming increasingly accessible to all types of people through high-speed Internet.
But beyond documentary film, it is critical right now for all forms of art to encourage conscious evolution by embodying and modeling the kind of transformation that needs to take place.
Will you join me?