|Title||Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai|
|Director(s)||Alan Dater and Lisa Merton|
|Date released (year)||2008|
|Keywords/tags||Kenya, women, deforestation, activism, planting trees, feminism, environmental justice, ecofeminism, land degradation, environmentalism|
|Link to film||
|Synopsis||TAKING ROOT: The Vision of Wangari Maathai tells the story of Kenya’s Green Belt Movement, a grassroots organization encouraging rural women and families to plant trees in community groups, and follows Maathai, the movement’s founder and the first environmentalist and African woman to win the Nobel Prize. Maathai discovered her life’s work by reconnecting with the rural women with whom she had grown up. They told her they were walking long distances for firewood, and that clean water was scarce. The soil was disappearing from their fields and their children were suffering from malnutrition. “Well, why not plant trees?” she suggested.
Maathai soon discovered that tree planting had a ripple effect of empowering change. In the mid-1980s, Kenya was under the repressive regime of Daniel arap Moi, whose dictatorship outlawed group gatherings and the right of association. In tending their nurseries, women had a legitimate reason to gather outside their homes and discuss the roots of their problems. They soon found themselves working against deforestation, poverty, ignorance, embedded economic interests and government corruption; they became a national political force that helped to bring down the country’s 24-year dictatorship.
Using archival footage and first-person accounts, the film documents dramatic political confrontations of 1980s and 1990s Kenya and captures Maathai’s infectious determination and unwavering courage through in-depth conversations with the film’s subjects. TAKING ROOT captures a world view in which nothing is perceived as impossible. The film also presents an awe-inspiring profile of one woman’s three-decade journey of courage to protect the environment, ensure gender equality, defend human rights and promote democracy—all sprouting from the achievable act of planting trees.
Awards & Festivals:
2008, Winner, Audience Choice Prize, Rencontres Internationales du Documentaire de Montréal (RIDM)
2008, Winner, Prix Ecocamera (Ecocamera Award), Rencontres Internationales du Documentaire du Montréal (RIDM)
2008, Winner, Margaret Blank Award for Storytelling Vermont International Film Festival
2008, Winner, Amnesty International Durban Human Rights Award, Durban International Film Festival
2008, Winner, Green Cinema Award, Maui Film Festival
2008, Winner, Audience Award, Projecting Change Film Festival, Vancouver
2008, Winner, Audience Award Winner, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival
2008, Winner, Full Frame Women in Leadership Award, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, Durham, North Carolina
2008, Winner, Nashville Women in Film & Television Award for Best Feature Length Film Directed or Co-Directed by a Woman Nashville Film Festival
2008, Winner, Best Documentary Feature, Honorable Mention, Nashville Film Festival
Below taken from: http://takingrootfilm.com/reviews.htm
“We have just completed the month-long book tour [The Challenge for Africa] and … hardly was there a place we went that people did not mention Taking Root. It has been a wonderful project… I hope the film will continue to inspire people across the globe especially as the message is so fitting for our time.”
“[Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai] portrays a woman’s fight against all odds not to be a victim in her own natural environment. Indeed, ‘the tree woman’ and her initiative of planting trees led to the emancipation of women in her community. Through this act, she became the epitome of success and a role model of an enriching woman.”
“Taking Root underscores the critical importance of education to a social movement. It portrays a vision of education that is not about changing people’s heads, but ultimately changing the conditions under which people live. We can talk in the classroom about education for social change, but this extraordinary film provides a model for change that engages and inspires. It is worth a hundred hours of classroom talk…both the film and the woman are truly extraordinary!”
Dr. Thomas Heaney,
|Links to other resources||Official site: http://takingrootfilm.com/reviews.htm
From filmmakers Alan Dater and Lisa Merton:
We hope that TAKING ROOT: The Vision of Wangari Maathai will help viewers to see their relationship to the natural world in a different way. The connection between a healthy environment and healthy communities is at the core of the work of the Green Belt Movement, the NGO that Wangari Maathai founded in 1977, when she realized that the problems the rural women were having were directly related to their degraded environment. In taking steps to ameliorate their situation by planting trees, these women were not only addressing their immediate problems but the root cause of those problems as well.
Viewers have been moved and inspired by TAKING ROOT, and we hope that inspiration leads to action. The path that Wangari Maathai took from environmental justice to social and economic justice and then, ultimately, to peace, is what inspires audiences. They start to make connections that they have perhaps not made before.
In that spirit, we have partnered with the Katahdin Foundation to produce an action guide. The guide encourages people to take action in their local communities by becoming aware of trees and encouraging people to plant trees, and to make the connections between tree-planting, clean air, strong children and healthier communities and ultimately a healthier planet. We hope that TAKING ROOT encourages viewers to ask questions such as, “Who is living in degraded environments in the United States and why?” and then to seek solutions.
We also hope that the historical context of the film will raise awareness about how colonialism across the globe has been, and continues to be, at the root of environmental destruction in the “developing world.” Viewing the land as a commodity, and the extraction of resources as more important than anything else, has led us to the global climate crisis in which we find ourselves today. This way of doing business in the developing world continues without taking into account the livelihoods, well being and environmental sustainability of local communities; we take what we need and leave.
Deforestation 101: http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/takingroot/deforestation.html