UKGFF 2015: Divide In Concord Review

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Over the next few weeks, FILM IN WORDS will be taking a special look at the 2015 UK Green film festival, showcasing and reviewing this year’s stellar lineup of thematically potent, visually arresting and environmentally focused films. We hope you can come along for the ride…

Words: Brody Rossiter
Twitter: @BrodyRossiter

 THE RIGHT TO BEAR BOTTLES

The health benefits of drinking bottled water are undeniable. Whether it’s via television adverts, magazine articles or a personal trainer, the advice to ditch sugary soft drinks and opt for a refreshing bottle of H20 is widespread and constantly reiterated throughout our daily lives. Now imagine if somebody told you that you really shouldn’t be drinking from that bottle, and that what you were doing was not only illegal but also a scourge upon our rapidly diminishing planet.

In 1775, the American patriots of Concord fired the now infamous “shot heard around the world” and ushered in a revolution that would define the world’s most powerful nation. Today, eighty-four year-old Jean Hill is fighting her own seemingly unwinnable battle to rid the historic small town of single-serve plastic bottles of water.

Despite Jean’s clear physical frailty, her inspirational manner and drive to put an end to what she cites as “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch” (large swathes of ocean which have essentially become plastic dumping grounds), are truly the picture’s greatest asset – whether you agree with her views or not. Conversely Concord’s residents (not all, but nevertheless many) and their attitudes quickly become the picture’s increasingly frustrating antagonists.

In an insular town in which “traditional” beliefs reign supreme, the freedoms that past generations fought for have become excuses to do whatever one pleases without recourse. Their constant unwillingness to even rationally debate with Jean, and their sensationalist arguments that an aging widower is encroaching on her neighbours’ rights as Americans, quickly becomes tiresome and transparent. Ultimately it boils down to a battle of convenience and profit versus a more environmentally conscious lifestyle.

The David and Goliath approach that the picture quickly adopts immediately draws the viewer in, presenting a tug of war over not only the immediate issue of the bottled water but larger environmental issues and an unwillingness to adapt our own bad habits when we’re thousands of miles away from most damaging effects of them.

Luckily, Jean is not alone in her fight and her recruitment efforts pay dividends, allowing her to put up a real fight in a town which has never been scared of one. Divide in Concord’s initial focus broadens to become a larger environmental discussion as Jean, her allies, and opponents prepare for a final town meeting that has been years in the making. The film is full of unique and opinionated characters that present an energetic microcosm of the fight for environmental change and construct a thoroughly engaging documentary. Endearing, impassioned and provocative, Divide in Concord would warm the heart of any revolutionary.

FIW RATING: 4/5

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