As Anne Macksoud states in her own interview on Eco Shock radio, and Ankele confirms in his conversation with Mahoney, what catapulted the ODD team to make the film The Wisdom to Survive was their reading of the book Eaarth by Bill McKibben. The book stimulated the urgent need to participate in some way in raising awareness about climate change and trying to drive people to action. Ankele and Macksoud’s way is through film. Mahoney affirms that the primary goal, then, for the film is “to recruit activists, and to foment a grassroots movement that will create the change” that politicians and corporate culture eschew.
Ankele’s experience in and commitment to grassroots activism has a long history. He participated in the Civil Rights Movement in the US in the 1960s and against the Viet Nam War. Ankele was informed and inspired by his theological and sociological studies to examine what defines justice and to search for ways to support disenfranchised communities. His voyage “from the seminary to the screening room” was a seamless one, as he states, because the study of the Word, which in Hebrew is “davar,” means both word and action in this language. For Ankele, then, thought and action are one and the same, and his action is expressed through the production of films that give voice to communities, their struggles and their concerns.
In the interview, Ankele goes on to tell the fascinating story of his years spent in East Africa with his family, and his travels and filmmaking in China, as well as his internal voyage first as a student of Christianity and then as one of Shambala and Zen Buddhism.
Ankele’s journeys have meant a search for a deeper understanding of who we are and what this life is, a search that serves as a leit motiv throughout the films that he has produced. And that has led up to The WIsdom to Survive.
Mahoney astutely and sensitively indicates that what The Wisdom to Survive expresses is a
“sensibility that is attuned to the ‘greater ecology’ of our planet”, that recognizes our spiritual connection to our world. The film underlines through the interviews with activists and thinkers our need to bear witness to what is before us, what is happening around us, both the beauty and the horror. It is a “call” to the audience to see that our Mother Earth is dying, and to come away with an insight and understanding that will oblige us to act in some way. The Earth is alive, she is ours and we are of her. And we must feel a part of this whole. No matter how events will unfold.
For the complete interview, click here: John Ankele interview with Chronogram.