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“Youth Unstoppable” screened at Pollak Theatre

On Wednesday, Mar. 6, the “Youth Unstoppable” documentary, which showcases young and passionate activists looking to save the planet, was screened at Pollak Theatre as the final film shown as a part of the Pearson’s World Cinema Series.

Marina Vujnovic, Ph.D., A.P.R, Professor of Communication is a part of the World Cinema Series’ committee, which decides which films are shown each year. She said, “When we discussed the topic of events, I remembered this biographical documentary called ‘Youth Unstoppable.’ It’s about climate change, so I suggested it, and the committee accepted it as one of the movies we would show.”

Catherine Duckett, Ph.D., Associate Dean in the School of Science, described the film as a memoir of a young filmmaker’s journey from a little kid wanting to know more about the world she lived in. She then proceeds to documenting her evolution into an activist who wants the world to be a better place.

Lincoln Pereira, a junior dual history and education student further described the film’s synopsis: “The film is an autobiographical documentary by the filmmaker, Slater Jewell-Kemker, recounting her experience in youth climate activist communities. The film’s message is both dark and hopeful; since we follow Slater’s perspective, we see a very personal struggle with humanity’s greatest existential threat and how youth activists have supported each other both in the past and the present.”

Duckett added, “The atmosphere was interesting and intense. One young person asked [in the discussion portion] how he could make a difference because he didn’t have much time for activism.”

Vujnovic explained, in answer to that particular question, that people today don’t need to make a poster and go march in the streets to be involved in activism. Instead, that’s just one form of it. People who feel strongly about climate change or any other issue, according to Vujnovic, can get involved by sending emails to their representatives.

“I think that the big message of the night for the students was, if you care about this issue or any other issue even in your busy lives as students and as people who hold jobs, there is always some room to do action,” Vujnovic said.

Pereira said that he felt a combination of frustration and inspiration within the theatre. Pereira recounted that some older attendants of the film expressed feeling guilty after seeing how profoundly affected the current generation is by climate change. However, despite the various issues that were covered in the movie, he additionally felt hope by the audience seeing how the global youth are active in and aware about climate change.

A general consensus of those who viewed the film is that it’s important not only now, but for future generations of people. It highlights how the world has changed in the past ten years and how the Earth will continue to wither unless people begin to enact changes now.

“The climate crisis is going to eat the lunch of our students’ generation,” began Duckett. “If people take it seriously, it will only eat half the lunch and people and other living things may have decent lives. If people do not address the climate crisis and reduce fossil fuel use, carbon emissions from agriculture, and deforestation, then there will be very little lunch left. More wars and conflicts will occur, and life will be pretty miserable,” she further emphasized.

Pereira believes that “Youth Unstoppable” represents the power that young people have to affect change in their own lives. Seeing how the film displayed a history of youth activism globally for climate change reminds the youth of today, according to Pereira, that there will be people now and in the future who want to change the world for the better.

Vujnovic discussed how she pays attention to legal cases involving climate change. Something she noticed that happened several months ago was how a judge sided with young activists in the state of Montana.

In an article titled “Young environmental activists prevail in first-of-its-kind climate change trial in Montana” by Amy Beth Hanson and Matthew Brown of the Associated Press, it states, “Young environmental activists scored what experts described as a ground-breaking legal victory Monday [August 14, 2023] when a Montana judge said state agencies were violating their constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment by allowing fossil fuel development.”

The article continued, “The ruling in this first-of-its- kind trial in the U.S. adds to a small number of legal decisions around the world that have established a government duty to protect citizens from climate change.”

Duckett believes that it is not too late to change the world for the better, “As I have said before, the climate crisis is like a fistfight. You are going to get punched. However, if you are smart, you can get punched less. If we are smart and reduce carbon emissions, we will take a few punches, but we and other living things will come out okay. The planet will be fine whatever we do. It is life on earth and civil human society that we have to worry about.”

Vujnovic emphasized, “One little step, one more email from a person can change things. If you send an email to a representative who gets 100 emails a day, and if they get 101 emails, it might change their mind. We should never feel like there is nothing we can do.”

Pereira concluded, “One of the activists in the film said something very profound about the climate crisis that I will paraphrase: the Earth will recover from anything we do to it. Climate change is a threat to humanity’s survival. I think teens and young adults who grew up with Hurricane Sandy and other extreme weather understand how much of a threat climate change is, and as they grow up and work in government positions, we will see significant, positive change in how we deal with climate change.”