The headline in last week's Huffington Post was amazing! "California Secession Proposal Endorsed By Riverside County Officials." Next day the august New York Times ran a half-page story, "California Counties Talk of Cutting Ties to State." It seems that a California legislator had gotten up and proposed... that part of the state of California should secede from the union! Yes, he actually proposed that a new country be formed which was economically and environmentally friendly. You know what? I enthusiastically agree with him.
For purposes of full disclosure, it happens that I am deeply immersed in preparing a feature film (or mini-series) based upon a best-selling novel, Ecotopia, by Ernest Callenbach. It depicts what would happen if part of coastal Northern California, Oregon and the State of Washington broke off from the increasingly polluted United States and formed the new nation of Ecotopia. It takes place in the middle decade of this century, when this new nation has become a country powered by the sun, wind and waves, governed by women (of course!) where humans, whales and dolphins communicate (electronically) and where nuclear energy, environmental pollution and violence in all their forms are outlawed. This visionary film is derived from the prescient novels Ecotopia and Ecotopia Emerging which have sold well over a million copies to date in a dozen languages. It is required reading in colleges everywhere. For generations of devoted readers around the world, the word 'ecotopia' has come to represent the shorthand term for a sustainable human future. In the novels, it is the name of a near-future nation in the Pacific Northwest where grassroots democracy and ecological values have combined to create a society that works in harmony with its environment. As topical as anything today, it dramatizes the key survival issues of the 21st century.
By conserving its water and mineral resources and marketing clever ecological technology to the Third World, Ecotopia is challenging the fading Old World order of high-tech corporatism, which still has a stranglehold on the planet's people and resources. The film, a romantic ecological thriller from a screenplay by Jim Heddle, depicts what happens when a secret cabal of CIA-led operatives plots to overthrow the small nation and bring it (and its resources) back into the needy U.S.. How can a nation committed to non-violence and environmental protection defend itself against a ruthless aggressor committed to neither? The movie story is told through the eyes of a popular TV newscaster (think Tom Hanks) who is given the chance to head the first news team to be allowed into Ecotopia in nearly two decades..
In this present era of peak oil consumption, climate crisis and advancing species extinction, it has unquestionable popular appeal and urgent relevance. Which is why I am dedicated to making a film which can actually influence our thinking on these vital issues and -- hopefully -- could change our world for the better. Not a bad idea, that!
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