Half way through the second tour with Thirty Seconds to Midnight in the Los Angeles area. This is an 11 city tour which began in Texas then California, and finally Seattle. Average attendance is around 30, the largest was around 100. Seeing it in three theaters on the big screen with Dolby Sound is amazing.
The responses are overwhelmingly positive, if depressing. The Final Wake Up Call isn’t meant to be “a spoon full of sugar” after all. My friend, Sherri Mitchell, the Penobscot Native American, does offer a vision of hope based on the prophecies of the indigenous ancestors. My hope for the film was not to depress, but to light a fire under everyone to unite and engage in massive acts of peaceful, non-violent, civil disobedience. Chris Hedges and David Hartsough articulate that very well.
The film has been seen 30,000 times now on Youtube. I realize that many will not have watched the entire film, but nevertheless, that’s a lot of people checking it out. Several hundred have seen it in public screenings. The responses on Youtube range from the very positive to outright condemnation. Some are downright vulgar and abusive. I don’t delete any and respond to nearly all comments.
Climate deniers make up the majority of negative comments. Some ridicule Sherri Mitchell’s testimony as farcical and outlandish. Some think that Dr. Caldicott is delusional and an alarmist.
The live audiences have been what I hope for, i.e. important group interaction, sharing, and learning. It’s wonderful when people share their own knowledge about things that are treated only superficially in the narrative of the film. Each section of the film could be stand-alone documentaries. But, all agree that for the first time the dots were connected from when the white Europeans came to the Americas to the present day.
My intention was to document that killing and the stealing of land and resources began in the 15th century and America’s “exceptionalism” and “destiny” has been part of the American narrative to the present day.
On a couple of occasions after the public screenings I’ve been “attacked” for not saying anything good about America. One Anglo man was outraged about this, and an African American man immediately countered with “name one.” They got into a back and forth before the African American left saying, “I knew nothing would change.”
I have also been challenged by the “rosy picture” I painted of President Putin and Russia. My intent was not to canonize Putin and Russia, but to point out the contrast between the US and Russia. The contrast is stark and undebatable when one considers the US has over 800 military bases in around 100 countries, and that America, since 1945 has invaded some 80 countries, orchestrating coups and political assassinations, and influencing elections. Russia doesn’t have military bases on America’s borders, nor does it conduct military exercises outside of its own territory as Bruce Gagnon made clear in the segment on Ukraine.
It is frightening to see first-hand how otherwise informed Americans are brainwashed by the lies and daily bombardment of propaganda about Putin and Russia. On the other hand, it is encouraging to discover a growing awakening here in America. Number 45 in the White House sure has light a fire under millions and millions of Americans of every color, stripe and persuasion. Maybe that’s a good thing.
I find it rewarding that so many people appreciate my films, beginning with The Ghosts of Jeju, all the short films and interviews, and now Thirty Seconds to Midnight. Meeting so many wonderful activists all across this country is so gratifying especially when the mainstream media and industry ignore me and my films. Film festivals, if they respond to my applications, say “it isn’t a good fit for our audiences.”
It is to all of you who have supported me and my work financially and with your encouragement that I owe my thanks. It wouldn’t be possible without you. Please continue to do what you can to spread the word. And remember, you can purchase copies of the film to share on my website: registremblay.wpengine.com This film has become an excellent tool to educate and inspire people around the world.
If someone attempted to “tell” friends about the important messages in the film, their eyes would glaze over after two minutes. That’s the power of the medium. People will watch and then engagement and dialogue are possible.
Keep the faith, spread the word, and organize, organize, organize.
In Peace and Solidarity,