traveleco Compiled and written by WiF stenGer Cutting back, for the planet John Webster's documentary about his efforts to radically reduce his family's carbon footprint has attracted worldwide attention. This month, the movie is part of a film festival in Australia and New Zealand. IntroducIng his children to the unpredictable challenges of fame wasn't on the forefront of Finnish-British filmmaker John Webster's mind when he decided to place his family on a year-long "oil diet" and capture the at-times trying experience on camera. But after garnering awards and screenings around the world over the past two years, the resulting documentary, Recipes for Disaster, has made his wife and two sons familiar to millions. "My younger son wanted us all to wear sunglasses when we went to the video store, because he knew that the DVD of the film was up there on the top shelf," says Webster with a wry smile. With a witty, provocative approach to global warming that applies the lessons of An Inconvenient Truth to the life of a suburban family, the film has scooped up festival awards in Korea, Poland, Italy, Sweden and Armenia. TV rights have been sold to two dozen countries from Japan to the US and Israel, several of which broadcast the film during the Copenhagen climate summit. From February 5 to March 16, the film will be showcased in Australia and New Zealand as part of the Windows on Europe Film Festival. "The further off in time something is, the less we are willing to invest." an ethical millionaire? Born in Finland to British parents, Webster is currently completing an eco-friendly house for his family in Espoo, near Helsinki. "We're aiming for zero emissions," he says, "but we'll have to wait until the end of our first year of living there to see how that works out." He is also working on another film that draws inspiration from climate change one with an even more offbeat premise. "It's a film about the economics of climate change, which might sound boring, but climate change is all about money. And one of the reasons why there's so little action is that people 14 blue WinGs FEBRUARY 2010 don't know how much they want to spend or how to calculate the costs involved," he says. To illustrate his point, Webster is trying to find the best way to make a million dollars by 2050. He plans to raise 100,000 dollars immediately. "I'm inviting people to take part in it, to invest with me, and tell me their ideas on how to do it," he says. "It has to be real money, and it has to be ethical, something that sets an example of what can be done. A lot will depend on however much or little we do in the next few years." As Webster sees it, the biggest obstacle to stopping climate change is people's unwillingness to pay for anything they won't be around to enjoy. Economists say that humans tend to prefer smaller payoffs in the short run to larger payoffs in the future. "It's an inherent human characteristic: the further off in time something is, the less we are willing to invest. Most of us are happy to invest money for our children or maybe our grandchildren. But how about our great-grandchildren, whom we'll never meet?" Webster says. individuals in the lead role The director, who prefers to travel by rail, says he will need to fly more for this project. He points out, though, that flying between Helsinki and Stockholm creates fewer emissions than travelling by boat. "I also believe in carbon offset, as long as it's a well-audited project, and follows the rigorous Gold Standard quality benchmark set by the WWF and others. I use a site called Atmosfair.de, which calculates the effects of vapour trails, unlike most others," he says. Webster, who has been making independent documentaries for 20 years, has in the past spun offbeat stories about woman cops, exotic dancers, vacuum cleaner salesmen and ski-racing war veterans. Human stories are always at the centre, even in his latest projects. Asked if he's worried about being pigeonholed as a global warming filmmaker, he chuckles. "I think I'll keep on making climate change films until we fix the problem. There are many problems in people's lives today, but if the worst happens with climate change, it'll all seem very small. There's no greater subject it's the challenge for our generation," he says. John Webster British citizen, born in Helsinki in 1967 Chair of Filmkontakt Nord, the Nordic documentary film association Previous films include Raba Hiff (1991), Striptease (Finnish Documentary of the Year, 1995), Rooms of Shadow and Light (Prix Italia, 2000) and The Skiers (2006) For more information on Windows on Europe and Webster's film, see www.delaus. ec.europa.eu, www.recipesfordisaster.info Sinimaaria Kangas documentarian John Webster has experienced first-hand the challenges of ecological living.
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