This past Memorial Day weekend, Peaceful Uprising joined Bidder 70’s Directors, Beth and George Gage, at the Mountainfilm festival in Telluride, Colorado. We were there to present and support the World Premiere of Bidder 70, the full-length documentary about our friend and co-founder, Tim DeChristopher.
The film premiered Friday night at 6:30pm to a sold-out crowd in the Palm Theater where Bidder 70 was greeted with a standing ovation before the film even began. The sold-out showing at the Palm was a rare occurrence as one of only a handful of films that have accomplished a sold-out showing at the Palm in the decades that Mountainfilm has been presenting films. Bidder 70 finished to another standing ovation and a powerful Q&A with George and Beth, Pat Shea (Tim’s lawyer), Henia Belalia (Director of PeaceUp), Nobel Peace Prize winner Terry Root (one of the lead scientists on the International Panel on Climate Change) and Christine DeChristopher (Tim’s mom).
For the last three years, award-winning filmmakers George and Beth Gage (Gage and Gage Productions) have been following Tim DeChristopher and Peaceful Uprising as we set out to influence the climate justice movement. Ryan Suffern of Suckatash Productions was tasked with editing over 250 hours of footage down to the 72.5 minutes that comprise the film. Two of Ryan’s films were big winners at the festival with Right to Play, the documentary by Frank Marshall, winning the Audience Award and Bidder 70 taking second place for the Audience Award.
The film Bidder 70 inspires audiences to act. But people often leave wondering, “How could I ever do something like Tim did?” Peaceful Uprising was on hand to remind people that the first step to becoming an effective agent of change is personal transformation:
“It may sound wishy-washy, but it isn’t,” says co-founder and former Director Ashley Anderson, “We’ve discovered that you need to stop, get quiet, turn inward, and talk to yourself. Decide that you are open to becoming aware of opportunities to make a difference. When you do that, you immediately start to see the world differently. The next challenge is to have the courage to take the opportunities that begin to present themselves. That’s why Tim’s story is so important…he wasn’t sure what he was going to do when he went into that auction, but he had decided to do something. Before he started bidding, he had to pass through a veil of fear. As soon as he did that, he talks about how ‘his mind became perfectly clear.’
“In the months leading up to the occupation of Wall Street, many of my fellow planners weren’t sure if they could go through with it. I always tried to remind them that the personal fear and doubt was natural, and that it presented the most important opportunity for growth in their lives. That threshold of fear and comfort is different for everyone. You don’t need to go out and stop the entire fascist system and replace it with a new culture based on mutual respect and compassion as soon as you leave the theater. But if you think that’s an important goal, you need to overthrow the fascist in your own heart and mind, and replace it with personal compassion and courage.”
The highlight of the festival was Peaceful Uprising award of the prestigious Moving Mountains award. The award comes with a $7,000 prize that we desperately need right now after all of our finances were recently stolen. An anonymous donor added an additional $5,000 to PeaceUp’s coffers after being inspired by an encore of Bidder 70 at the High Camp on Monday morning.
As usual, Mountainfilm was ripe with mutual inspiration. Many of Peaceful Uprising’s core members have been inspired by the people at the festival and vice versa. In 2010, during the Moving Mountains Symposium, Chris Jordan presented his works, Running the Numbers and Midway, which sobered many of us up to the scale of change that needs to happen in order to address climate collapse. Chris’s work was instrumental in many of our personal transformations and Peaceful Uprising was honored to pay it back.
This weekend reinforced that there are no heroes; we can all be agents of change. The mutual respect and community ties that Peaceful Uprising is incubating and encouraging will lead to resilience necessary to have communities that reflect our values. We were reminded of a quote from Diane Nash, a founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee:
“One thing that I think the history books, and the media, have gotten very wrong is portraying the movement as Martin Luther King’s movement, when in fact it was a people’s movement. If people understood that it was ordinary people who did everything that needed to be done in the movement, instead of thinking, I wish we had a Martin Luther King now, they would ask, ‘What can I do?’ Idolizing just one person undermines the struggle.”
Folks who are ready to take action and become an agent of change are encouraged to explore PeaceUp’s website to find ways to get involved.
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Solidarity and many thanks for an incredible weekend: