Theater of Cruelty

energy Revolution

It is crucial to help the people wake up and take matters into their own hands if we want the globe to survive, says Carl A. Fechner. 


German director Carl A. Fechner is known for his environmental documentaries. His latest movie Power to Change has just had its English premiere at the Raindance Film Festival in London. The film is a loose sequel to a film documentary released in 2010 under the title The 4th Revolution.

First, a question about the title of your previous movie, The 4th Revolution. Why the fourth? 

"We expect three major revolutions. The first was the transition from hunting and sinking to farming. The second was the industrial revolution, where manual labor was gradually replaced by machinery. The third was the information revolution, where a computer network created global connections. The fourth revolution is the transition to decentralized and sustainable energy, which is the theme of the film. ”

The word revolution brings the thought of a fight against the establishment and a liberation struggle. Is this also part of the energy revolution? 


“Everyone knows that we have enormous problems in the world today: poverty, hunger, water shortages and injustice. All of this is related, and the main problem connecting them is, as I see it, the question of energy. A real change can only happen when power is given to the people, and when the people are given, as we say in the title of the new movie, the power of change – 'Power to Change'. ”

The title also refers to an energy rebellion. What does this mean? 

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"The main idea is that anyone can be a rebel. You can switch energy supplier from fossil energy to green technology. You can also take part in a blockade of a coal mine. There is a wide range that goes from being a demonstrator and an activist to only choosing to implement new, green technologies. You can also see this in my new film, where the story is about ten to eleven people who decide they want to make a difference. They are rebels, but they are not outside society in any way. It is, for example, the farmer who will invent a method for making biofuel from hay bales. He has a genuine commitment, but he is also a businessman. You do not have to go that far. You can remain a part of society and at the same time be a rebel. "

The choice is ours. So the film is partly about innovation and new technologies – but the argument also seems to be that the new technologies are already here, and that it's just a matter of using them?

"That is right. The technology is here already. It all depends on the choices of individuals, secondly the choices made by different societies, cities and in politics in general. It will be the people's own choice, and these are also choices people care about, and which they get excited about. One of the key themes is speed and mobility, so electric cars are a key. We will see much more of this in the next two to three years. It seems that it is difficult for people to change their eating habits and, for example, eat less meat – which is very important – but this will probably also change, albeit very slowly. Choosing the latest and most advanced technologies, on the other hand, is easy for us – so the changes here can happen correspondingly fast. It is so attractive to switch to an electric car that once you have chosen it, you will never go back to a regular car. And once you have an electric car, you start to care about where the power comes from, and prefer that it not come from a nuclear power plant or a coal power plant. "

"All my movies are about energy, technology, people – and love."

Are the alternative technologies self-awareness?

"There is a very interesting survey that shows that 80 percent of the population are supporters of the energy change. People agree that this is a good thing. People who do not have access to this technology, on the other hand, are statistically more skeptical. Those who live near wind turbines are more positive about clean energy. And these wind turbines generate electricity that goes straight into the network. People need to be introduced to the changes – they need to be connected to them. "

Will and longing. If we stick to the metaphors: What is the relationship between power – that is – understood as electricity, and power understood as political action? 

'I'm glad you point out that link. We play a little with both meanings here. But what I really mean is "power to the people" – and it starts with a will and a longing. First you long for the sea, then you build a sailboat. Giving people strength is something that begins in the heart and moves on to the thought – and then it may continue with the legs and a movement. "

Is it about a longing to move out of a depressing mood of powerlessness and depression? Are people moved by the hope that it is possible to make our society less destructive?

“Yes, every time has its mood. There was, of course, a depressing mood in Germany after World War II and into the XNUMXs. In the seventies and eighties, an unusually strong peace movement arose. We protested against medium-range missiles on German soil aimed at Moscow and at the terrible possibility of nuclear war. We made blockades and protested – and we won. We actually got rid of the rockets. "

Is the strong peace movement the reason why Germany today is a pioneer in environmental policy, as we see in your latest film? 

"Yes, the film is quite rightly set in Germany, but it is built around a few selected people. They are prototypes, if you will – characters and lives that can also be found in many other places. In a sense, the film could have been made almost anywhere. For example, in France, where they still have a lot of nuclear power, but also countless activists. Our first screening of the film outside of Germany was in Iran. A man from the audience came forward and told that he felt that a character from the film was like a brother; that he was just like himself. They had the same life project, and struggled with the same problems. It is very interesting to see reactions from different people from different places, how everyone can identify with the characters in the film. "

So presenting the film as a story about a movement is really justified?

"Just. It is not so much a story about Germany as it is about a global awakening. But this movement is particularly strong in Germany. We have a lot of nuclear power Germany which generates a lot of radioactive waste, and which then has to be transported to storage sites. Thousands of police are needed to transport the waste, as protesters block the roads – tens of thousands of people on the road with field kitchens, tents and sleeping bags. They are housewives, priests, farmers and teachers – ordinary people. Sometimes it takes days for the police to remove the protesters, something I have also made a film about. These protesters have made history. Germany's politicians have decided that by 2032 there will no longer be any nuclear power in the country. It's a huge achievement! We have a profound green movement that consists of 10-15 percent of the population. "

Hearted. What does it take to make this revolution a success? 

"In part, it depends on political choices. We had a government that decided to lock in the energy sources so that investments in new energy sources such as solar energy could be made safer. Then we had a new government that changed this law. It set us back, but it can be changed again for the better. In 2017, there is a new election. "

The energy revolution is thus dependent on being able to appeal to people's rational self-interest – or is it mostly a question of moral commitment? 

"We definitely need both. Audi has invested seven to eight million in an e-gas project, but they are not necessarily particularly idealistic. They make investments based on self-interest, which at the same time serves the environmental cause. It is a combination of rational argumentation and heartfelt. "

"The energy revolution is less a question of technology and economics than of politics and the will to change."

Those in positions of power often say that the energy shift is quite desirable, but that it is impossible in practice or that it cannot happen too quickly. It seems like you are saying that it is possible and that it needs to happen faster? 

"My production company makes a series of films, and all the films are about energy, technology, people – and love. We have a working hypothesis: A complete transition to decentralized sustainable energy is possible within 15–20 years. There are no independent studies that say this is not possible. If people say that it is not possible, it just means that they have something to lose. There will always be winners and losers. If the innovators are to win, others must lose. Companies like Mercedes are changing, but far too slowly! They are coming with their first fully electric car next year. By then, Tesla will have sold 200 cars. "

So do you think one should do as Elon Musk, who directly challenges framework conditions and legislation by going to court and by entering into discussions with politicians? 

"Musk has the means of production, the money – and more importantly: he has revolutionary ideas. That's why he's in both of our movies. He is in a position where he can speak freely and uncompromisingly, since he is only a dealer of fully electric cars. He has a clear profile and does not have to worry about shareholders who also have interests related to petrol cars. Great things are happening on the west coast of the United States. We even plan to make some changes to the American version of the film, to make it more American, so to speak. "

Does the California way of thinking – where anything is possible – take hold? 

"Yes. Just a few years ago we were told that this and that were impossible. Now it is possible. In Norway, you have 20 percent electric cars. The authorities support it. The energy revolution is less a question of technology and economics than of politics and the will to change. Many years ago I talked about Chernobyl and the need to switch to green energy sources. At that time I made statements that were not really true, because at that time it was not yet possible to change the system. But now it is possible! Both technology and the economy make it possible. "

Vi mustn't that is, believe in things before the time is ripe – simply believe that it is possible before it is possible? 

"Yes, that is the very definition of a revolution. It is proactive rather than reactive. I'm sure if we get an ISIS attack on a nuclear reactor – let's pray to God it never happens – everyone will ask how we could allow ourselves to be addicted to something so vulnerable and dangerous. In Germany, it has proved possible to decommission nuclear energy, and in Switzerland as well. But in France they have 78 percent nuclear power, and at the same time they have a long coast of about 1400 kilometers. It is a belt of forest along the coast, planted by the state a hundred years ago. You have no idea how easy it would be to install thousands of wind turbines. Yet nothing happens. And then there are real setbacks – like the company that wants to build a nuclear power plant in England at Hinkey Point. Many do not know this. That's why I let the protesters gather right there towards the end of the film: It is still absolutely crucial to spread information and help the people wake up and take matters into their own hands. "

Anders Dunk
Anders Dunker
Philosopher. Regular literary critic in Ny Tid. Translator.

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