Northern rivers director Cathy Henkel’s eighth film, Rise of the Eco Warriors, is set to have its world premiere at the gala closing night party of the 2014 Byron Bay Film Festival on Saturday (March 8.)
Having lived in the northern rivers herself for 17 years, she told Echonetdaily ‘Byron is a great place for this movie to premiere, because people here are aware already about the importance of living in harmony with the natural environment.’
Cathy has been making films for 26 years and Rise is her second film about the rampant deforestation for palm oil plantations occurring in some countries, along with the loss of habitat and other issues for native wildlife, which these practices cause.
‘I met the orangutans when I was doing The Burning Season and I felt the personal need to keep telling the story about how we can save the forests,’ Cathy said.
The overall message of Rise is ‘it’s better to do one thing than nothing at all,’ she explained.
‘Deforestation contributes 20 per cent to the world’s carbon emissions,’ Cathy said.
‘I feel this is a fight we can win and you have to pick the fights you can win because there are so many battles to be fought.’
Rise of the Eco Warriors depicts the experiences of four groups of young people from nine different countries, who spend 100 days in Borneo with different group objectives, to see if they can make a difference.
Cathy made this movie especially for the younger generation, whom she believes will be the ones to solve the problem of deforestation.
‘It must be really confusing for young people who go through school learning about how important sustainability is, and living in balance with nature,’ she said, ‘and then they come out of school and see our leaders being elected, taking us in exactly the opposite direction.’
Cathy views this film as being ‘like taking a candle into the darkness,’ where she drew upon all her experience and knowledge to lovingly craft what she considers her best and most challenging work to date.
‘Going to Borneo and shooting in remote locations where there are no facilities, you’re sleeping on the floor, there are no medical provisions, there’s no law, there are terrible terrible roads, the rivers are treacherous; it was just risk and danger at every level,’ she said.
Cathy’s film The Burning Season is renowned for showing solutions to real world problems and for presenting a positive impact on a negative situation.
Rise of the Eco Warriors is looking to do the same but, with time against them, how much of a difference can this handful of young eco warriors make?
Cathy describes the film as ‘uplifting’ and says ‘hopefully it will inspire and motivate other young people,’ and help them ‘to realise it’s worth doing something.’
After the Byron Bay Film Festival premiere, Cathy will be taking her film on the road for four weeks around Australia, after which it will tour internationally.