Hot Docs Review: Fall and Winter [Matt Anderson, 2013]


Baltimore – I’m not a fan of throat-singing. That’s why I don’t like this film.

I’m joking; I love it when humans imitate didgeridoos. But I hate it when cowards imitate visionaries. When someone said “the whole planet will be a desert in 70 years”, that says more about their lack of imagination (and geophysical education) than their foresight. I really don’t recommend this film unless you are already in the choir and love being preached to. Fall and Winter is an alarmist piece that preys on hippies. Starting with a collection of the problems facing modern America, it tries to make some feeble connections so it can invoke personal transformations as a valid solution to these manifold problems.

To paraphrase and expound myself: The film introduces human evolution, agriculture, industrialization, plutocracy (or maybe they wanted to say oligarchy?), war, celebrity culture as evils that led to the visible problems of modern America (read, ONLY America, no where else): poverty, social stratification, pollution, globalization, climate change and natural disasters. The way out, we’re told, is to “re-embrace” nature, abandon our artificial machinations and join the Occupy movement and harbor a DIY attitude, making everything from Mother Earth. Because otherwise, as our Indian brothers foretold, “the white brothers will not be able to rejoin the great spirit and will parish”.

Let’s start with a few easy one-liners: Can Yellow people safely modernize (burn coal, dig for iron, buy oil, all that jazz) since it’s not written in the prophecy? When we move to an “Mother Exoplanet”, should we export and import our spiritual connections with Mother Earth? Is there even enough land for us to make mud-houses and still “hunt and gather”, live off the land as we’re “meant to be”? If you do a quick mental exercise, you’ll find that every person on Earth is currently entitled (because of course everyone is equal) to 5 acres of land. That includes the Arctic and Antartica. If we were to reset the Earth in 5 acres partitions and start living by the land as hunter gatherers did, we may run into two alternative scenarios: A) What the film wants you to believe – everyone will be fine and dandy, and all of our problems will have been vanquished. B) SAME AS WE HAVE TODAY. COMPETITION DUE TO SCARCITY. I’m betting on B). Because while my 5 acres may well be made of gold, with no tools and no trading partners, it’s literally worth less than shit in terms of sustenance. Even if each 5 acres is self-sustained, and if you are lucky, one of your neighbors happened to be a woman who chose you (and not her other 3 neighbors) with whom to procreate for a seemly acceptable total of 2 children, you’ll now be sharing 10 acres among 4.

And now we can think about competition – which, for good reason then, the native Indians are very good at. Living off the land doesn’t mean the end of wars. Keep doing that math and you’ll reach the main problem: everyone involved in the film conveniently forgot about the term “OVER-POPULATION”. Regardless of the content of your solutions – if your claim is that everyone should adopt, you should check your logistics. So, I don’t need to go into an itemized list of the non-sensical conclusions reached in this film such as agriculture is an evil that lead to constant wars and celebrity culture. It’s call history, by the way. Just because one happened before the other doesn’t prove that Genghis Khan caused the sub-prime mortgage crisis. The inclusion of the Occupy Movement further bares the flaws – precisely what happened to the thoughtless Occupy movement will happen to any of the solutions proposed. It will dissolve because it has forgotten the ground from which is spawn is that of a society, one that provided for the pizza that were sent around to freeloaders. An hierarchy will automatically form in a group of humans unless they are independent of each other – that’s why we’re “SOCIAL” animals. And then all of the problems told in the first half of the film will return to haunt the new paradise. What is infuriating is that the star-speaker of the film, an Indian Chief, is talking about the genuine and tragic destruction of his culture; but he and his people are used as a ruse to support the cause. Why doesn’t the filmmaker mention over-population? Because that would stipulate a solution – and this is a film made for people who will obviously champion freedom of the individual carte blanche, including having 10 children. Without addressing population crisis, the stance taken in the film is equivalent to shouting “Who cares if I add to the burden of the planet? My responsibility to the planet stops at my genitals!”

This is a thoughtless and superficial film that caters to the converted. It promotes a nostalgia of the “old-days” when humans were more in-tune with the natural world and reduces it to rhetorics, without reminding the audience how and why that lifestyle is left behind, and what the consequences of regression will be. Of course, I can’t blame anyone for not condensing human history into 1.5 hrs… though the filmmaker certainly tried. I’ll close with a quote from one interviewee: “I think Mother Earth is gonna scare the shit out of us, and we deserve it”. The whole point of being close to and understand nature, I believe, is that Earth and other celestial bodies will scare the shit out of you regardless of what you do. If you mystify nature as too complex and don’t do something about it, you WILL deserve it. So, when any of these people have committed their own grand-children to a hunter gatherer’s life of traumatic injuries and a lifespan of 40 yrs, fighting smallpox and killing (among) 7 billion other people for food instead of clamoring for welfare to take care of their problems, please call me at my office on Mars.

Posted on by Gary in Everything, Hot Docs, Reviews