End Civ: Eco-Reset
A directors radical critique of Western Civilization
By Dante Zu¿iga-West
How pissed off are you about our global environmental crises? A little? A lot? On a scale of one to ten, where do you stand? Just how liberal, conservative or radical are your views concerning the environment? Wanna find out? Director Frank Lopez can help.
A fierce critique of systematic violence and industrial civilization, End:Civ is not intended for garden-variety environmentalists. If you are anywhere below, say, an 8 on that sliding scale of pissed off, then this film is going to scare you ã which means you should watch it.
"I didnt do this film for the majority of the population,” admits Lopez, who passed through Eugene for a Feb. 10 screening of the film at UO. "The reason I made this film was to make activists question whether or not what theyve been doing over the last couple years is working or not.”
Opening with a Pacman videogame motif in which everyones favorite little maze muncher gobbles up a series of virtual trees, End:Civ walks a fine line between visually provocative and aesthetically low-tech. While traditional activist films often suffer from poor video resolution or jagged scene transitions, End:Civ pays homage to DIY authenticity while upholding the professionalism required to convey such radical content. Whatever you might say about the films scathing, one-sided portrayal of industry and consumption, no one can write it off as the work of an amateur with more political zeal than artistic skill.
Lopez is an award-winning filmmaker based in Vancouver, B.C., who has been featured on Canadas City TV, Current, GNN and BET. In 2006 he was hired on to produce Amy Goodmans "Democracy Now!” Given his pedigree, it might seem strange that Lopez was unable to get screen time at any film festivals. But thats how it goes ã no traditional outlets would support a viewing, which BRING's us back to the films radical content.
End Civ is an abbreviation for "end civilization.” The film is based on a series of premises, primarily those advocating that industrial civilization be completely and immediately dismantled. This is proposed as an alternative to what the film forecasts as the inevitable collapse of industrial civilization and the first world. Scared yet?
Compelling interviews with authors/professors/intellectuals Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith and Eugene-local John Zerzan are sprinkled in amongst gritty images of environmental exploitation ã trees, minerals, animals, everything. Lopez effectively points the finger at hypocrisies existing within organizations such as Greenpeace and the Sierra Club. The "greening” of industry in efforts to manipulate the average consumer is well presented and humorously conveyed.
At times, however, the mixture of uncited sources and consciously distorted images can give critics of both the film and its message a bit of ammunition to discredit the work. There are definitely portions of the movie ã thematic connections between the narrative and supporting images ã that will confuse those unfamiliar with the world of underground political film. Viewers outside of Lopezs target audience may find themselves adjusting, or readjusting, their own personal barometers regarding environmental concerns, or they may be flat-out terrified. Either response is proof that End:Civ is a film to be watched and talked about.
Despite the lack of enthusiasm he has encountered, Lopez has managed to get his film out to the world the old fashioned way ã by renting a van and putting together his own national viewing tour. Local grassroots activist groups and community centers have helped coordinate a series of viewings. In Eugene, the Civil Liberties Defense Center sponsored the Feb. 10 screening. On May 1, pay-what-you-can downloading begins online at www.EndCiv.com, or you can buy the DVD now. A full-length video interview of Lopez can be found at http://theartofdismantling.blogspot.com