Keynote: Jennifer Abbott
(Monday) 18:00 - 18:40(GMT+00:00) View in my time
Borrowed Time Co-convenor Mat Osmond in conversation with Jennifer Abbott, Director of The Magnitude of All Things. We have made available to all delegates a
Borrowed Time Co-convenor Mat Osmond in conversation with Jennifer Abbott, Director of The Magnitude of All Things.
We have made available to all delegates a private screening of Jennifer Abbott’s acclaimed film The Magnitude of All Things. Here Ms Abbott is in conversation with Mat Osmond. You are invited to view the film at any time (but preferably before this session) from the beginning of the symposium until the end of Day 2 (Monday November 1). After that the film will no longer be available for viewing but can be seen at numerous festivals and special venues around the world.
When Jennifer Abbott lost her sister to cancer, her sorrow opened her up to the profound gravity of climate breakdown. Abbott’s new documentary The Magnitude of All Things draws intimate parallels between the experiences of grief—both personal and planetary. Stories from the frontlines of climate change merge with recollections from the filmmaker’s childhood on Ontario’s Georgian Bay. What do these stories have in common? The answer, surprisingly, is everything.
This cinematic journey by the Sundance award-winning director (The Corporation) takes us around the world to witness a planet in crisis: from Australia’s catastrophic fires and dying Great Barrier Reef, to the island nation of Kiribati, drowned by rising sea levels. In Nunatsiavut, melting ice permanently alters the landscape, while in the Amazon rainforest, Indigenous people fight a desperate battle against oil and mining extraction.
For the people featured, climate change is not happening in the distant future; it is kicking down the front door, flooding homes, poisoning water and destroying communities. The connection between humanity and the environment is stated plainly by Australia’s Wonnarua Traditional Custodians: “If this land hurts, we hurt.”
Like ash from a distant fire, grief on this scale touches everything. But coming to terms with the brutal reality of climate breakdown requires more than empty words and gestures. When hope is lost, the real work begins. Members of Extinction Rebellion protest in the streets, risking arrest. Greta Thunberg’s school strike grows from a solitary vigil to a mass movement. The Sápara, Wonnarua and Nunatsiavut land defenders hold the line in a life and death struggle. Facing her own mortality, Jennifer’s sister offers another kind of answer: “Just a simple, quiet openness to all that is.” Battles waged, lamentations of loss, and raw testimony coalesce into an extraordinary tapestry, woven together with raw emotion and staggering beauty that transform darkness into light, grief into action.
The URL for viewing the film will be released to all delegates at 15.00GMT on Sunday, October 31.
Speakers for this event
Flying Eye Productions
Jennifer Abbott is a Sundance and Genie award-winning filmmaker who has been making films about urgent social, political and environmental issues for 25 years. She is best known as the co-director and editor of The Corporation, frequently described as the most successful documentary in Canadian history. She also co-directed, co-wrote and edited Us & Them; co-wrote and edited Sea Blind; executive produced and edited I Am; and made the short Brave New Minds, among other films. In 2020, Abbott will release two feature documentaries: The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel (co-director and supervising editor) and The Magnitude of All Things (writer, director, editor, sound design and co-producer).
Flying Eye Productions
Mat’s a writer and visual artist with an interest in the arts’ role in helping us to understand and confront the dominant culture’s radical unsustainability. His recent work includes an ongoing series of illustrated poetry chapbooks, Strandline Books (which won the British Museum’s 2015 Michael Marks Prize for poetry illustration), as well as image-word collaborations with the poet Em Strang (Stone, 2016) and the painter Kate Walters (The Black Madonna’s Song, 2020). Mat regularly publishes essays that speak to entanglements of art, ecology and spirit within arts practice, including The Schoolgirl & The Drunkard, on storytelling and runaway climate change, An Underswell of Divination, on the illustrational collaborations between Ted Hughes and Leonard Baskin, and Black Light, on mass-extinction, regenerative culture and the rewilding of prayer. As part of Falmouth University’s Dark Economies research group, in 2019 Mat curated Negotiating the Surrender, a regional series of talks and workshops with Dark Mountain co-founder Dougald Hine, in support of the regenerative work of the Extinction Rebellion movement. In 2017 Mat led a residential Art.Earth Short Course with the poet Alyson Hallett, Intimate Ecologies, which experimented with writing, drawing and improvised ritual as a means to enter into a reciprocal conversation with place. Mat’s a director of the graphic literature publisher Atlantic Press and of the Art.Earth research collective based at Dartington, where he’s currently leading a year-long series of events on the theme of Death, Dying & Change. Having regularly published his own illustration, poetry and essays with the Dark Mountain Project since its inception, in 2017 Mat acted as art editor for Issue 11 of their Dark Mountain Journal and as guest editor for In Other Tongues: a series of essays flowing out of the Art.Earth summit of the same name.
BT on Facebook