Interview with "The 11th Hour" co-directer Nadia Conners

Nadia Conners (left on picture) co-directed "The 11th Hour" with her sister Leila Conners Petersen (left). I had the opportunity to first interview Leila a couple of weeks ago. Now with the growing success of the film, it only made sense to get the perspective about the making of the movie from Nadia.

TH - What are your hopes for how people react to the film?

Nadia - We are at a time where everyone living has to be part of this solution. It is a matter of how deep you want to go. I hope the film will outrage then inspire the existing movement to take it up a notch. Does that mean hitting the streets in protest? Yes. It is time for our next great social movement to unite behind positive ideas of what we are trying to build. We need to show each other that we are out here. This isn't about changing a light bulb anymore — this is about changing who is in charge in the government and in our corporations.
TH - In the film, you don't spend a large amount of time on global warming, what caused you to decide to focus on other issues? And can you tell us what issues were the most important in the film?

Nadia - Global warming is only part of the problem. The real problem is our relationship to the planet, the fact that we treat it as a disposable resource and an endless dumping ground for our waste. CO2 emissions are one kind of incredibly damaging waste. There are other toxins and pollutants harming our air and land. Our ravenous industrial process is digging up the world and turning it into waste thus creating a convergence of crisis. We have overshot the limits of this planet and therefore we, as a species and civilization, are hanging in a precarious imbalance with our future. If we don't fully recognize our environmental problems as a product of the way we are thinking, as a product of our very consciousness then I don't think we have much hope to turn things around. We are so far beyond the check list of the top ten things you need to do to lessen your impact we have to dig deep and get into real societal transformation and that requires looking into our very nature.

TH - Your background is different than your sister, Leila, who directed the film with you — tell us about your background and the ways your political experience influenced your approach to the film.

Nadia - I worked on multiple political campaigns as soon as I graduated from college. I thought it was on the campaign trail where you could fight for ideals. I learned that this was a mixed truth. In essence, campaigns became more about winning then what really was needed. I had a simultaneous love of film, photography, documentary and art. After I left politics I began my long road into filmmaking — always thinking that somehow the passion I had for ideas on campaigns would be something I could communicate through fiction stories or documentaries.
Ultimately, I believe social movements have the capacity to change the course of history. Social movements in this country abolished slavery, give women the right to vote and abolished segregation. The fact that we have been turned from citizen to consumer in the last few decades has disconnected us from the very real political power we all have. Some days I think we are lost in a vacuum of isolated consumption — reality just beyond a veil of white noise. We have to pierce this veil in order to wake up politically and artistically.

TH - How did filming the movie affect your perspective on environmental issues around the world?

Nadia - I have a new consciousness. I see everything as connected. I thought I knew a lot before embarking on making this film — having extensively researched and tracked these ideas since I was in college 15 years ago. I see now how the consequences of our actions have been shielded from us. When you get a catalogue in the mail and throw is out you don't see the old growth forests being felled, the enormous amounts of fossil fuels used to transport the lumber and turn it to paper, then the bleaching process all just to deliver you ads you don't want and then you throw it out.

The movie had an exclusive weekend opening in Los Angeles and New York on Aug 17, 2007. During the last few weeks, the film has expanded to other cities around the United States. "The 11th Hour" is set to hit even more theaters this Labor Day weekend.