Arise: Film Review

Arise Film Still - H 2013

Arise Film Still - H 2013

Undeniably well-meaning, this environmental themed doc is too generically executed to be fully effective.

Lori Joyce and Candice Orlando's documentary profiles thirteen female environmentalist activists around the world.

Environmental-themed documentaries seem to be arriving at such a fast and furious pace that a saturation point may soon be reached. Arise, from the mother-and-daughter filmmaking team of Lori Joyce and Candice Orlando, inevitably falls victim to the weariness engendered by such a plethora of similar projects. Undeniably well-meaning and certainly admirable for its shining a spotlight on female environmental activists, the film’s worthy message seems by now all too familiar.

Working from the premise that women seem to be leading the way in the environmental movement -- the premise is debatable -- the film is composed of a series of short segments devoted to female activists from around the world. Spanning the globe from the South Bronx to the rain forests of Ecuador, it glowingly describes the efforts of thirteen impassioned, indefatigable women, ages roughly 20 to 80, who are making great strides in their respective communities.

These include Winona LaDuke, a Native American who has championed the use of solar and wind power on reservations; Theo Colborn, head of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, who fights against toxic chemicals in our water supplies; Beverly Grant, who’s created a vibrant farmer’s market in a black neighborhood of Denver, Colo.; Dana Miller, who spearheads an “urban agriculture movement” in the same city; and Vandana Shiva, who champions organic farming in India.

In between the testimonies by these and other figures are glossily photographed scenes of nature, both in full bloom and in extremis, accompanied by snippets of poetry recited by narrator Daryl Hannah.

Unfortunately, the power of the message is diluted by the pedestrian filmmaking, with the overall effect resembling a compendium of public service announcements. Arise may well succeed in its obvious goal of recruiting more motivated women to environmental causes, but as a purely cinematic experience it will leave audiences wanting.

Opens: Friday, Sept. 20 (Idanha Films)

Directors/screenwriters/producers: Lori Joyce, Candice Orlando

Executive producer: Molly Ross

Narrator: Daryl Hannah

Directors of photography: Aaron Kopp, Mark Birnbaum

Editors: Hanneh Rudkilde, Michael Banowetz

Not rated, 78 minutes