Mountainfilm World Premiere: “The Ants & The Grasshopper”!

Mountainfilm World Premiere: “The Ants & The Grasshopper”!

Thanks to a brand new public health order out of San Miguel County Mountainfilm is able to nix capacity restrictions at free outdoor venues and add more seating.

 Reserve tickets now.

 Go here to find out what more you need to know, including about the above relaxed Covid constraints and Mountainfilm online. And here for the full program.

Among the featured films chosen by Festival Director (and filmmaker) Suzan Beraza and her team is the world premiere of  “The Ants & The Grasshopper,” directed by Raj Patel and  Zak Piper.

Please scroll down for more information and to listen to a podcast featuring Raj Patel.

Raj Patel & Zak Piper flank Anita Chitaya, scientist, climate activist and star of “The Ants & The Grasshopper.”

The heart of the matter in Aesop’s fable about the ants and the grasshopper is a lesson about the virtues of hard work and planning for the future. The diligent ants do; the happy-go-lucky grasshopper does not. He lives in the moment, singing and laughing with no thought of tomorrow.

Though the Greek slave’s version of the tale is world-renowned over decades there are variations on the theme. One of them is out of Africa, told to directors Raj Patel and Zak Piper by Anita Chitaya, the “star” of their documentary, “The Ants & The Grasshopper.”

In the African version, the grasshopper is a metaphor for climate change; the ants are we the people. A single ant cannot lift a grasshopper, but united they (or we) can. And to reinforce that message – and the message the situation is not hopeless – Anita Chitaya, a scientist, climate activist and visionary, journeyed from Malawi, Africa to the US to deliver it in person.

Bottom line on the story of that journey (and mission) as told in the doc.

“Anita Chitaya has a gift; she can help bring abundant food from dead soil, she can make men fight for gender equality, and she can end child hunger in her village. Now, to save her home from extreme weather, she faces her greatest challenge: persuading Americans that climate change is real. Traveling from Malawi to California to the White House, she meets climate skeptics and despairing farmers. Her journey takes her across all the divisions shaping the US, from the rural-urban divide, to schisms of race, class and gender, to the thinking that allows Americans to believe they live on a different planet from everyone else. It will take all her skill and experience to help Americans recognize, and free themselves from, a logic that is already destroying the Earth.”

“The Ant & The Grasshopper” understands the gloom, doom, fear, and apathy that surrounds the issue of global warming in this country: the deep, defeatist conviction that no response really matters because we are already so utterly and thoroughly screwed. Even bears witness to that fact of life.

One definition of existential angst is becoming aware of the possibility that life lacks meaning, causing an extreme form of anxiety and a feeling of despair or hopelessness. Following the 2016 election and the pandemic, existential angst became a thing. And the term now has babies, like “Eco-Anxiety,” which the American Psychological Association defines as “resounding chronic psychological consequences related to how we process the climate crisis.”

Chitaya’s message is a balm against such despair: humanity can stop climate change from running out of control. Underlining that message of hope:

“The climate crisis is not a science problem. It is a human problem. The ultimate power to change the world does not reside in technologies. It relies on reverence, respect, and compassion—for ourselves, all people, all life,” said  philosopher, climate activist and entrepreneur Paul Hawken, a former presenter (twice) at Mountainfilm.

The story of the doc as described by Mountainfilm:

“Anita Chitaya is transforming her village in Malawi with new farming and cooking methods even as drought looms. Chitaya and her mentor, Esther Lupafya, decide to embark on a journey through the U.S. in an effort to convince Americans that climate change is real. Along the way, they visit Midwest farms and urban food cooperatives, witnessing national divisions in their quest to save their home from drought.”

“The Ant & The Grasshopper” runs 74 minute –  but it was 10 years in the making. Why? For the answer to that question and much more, listen to the podcast below, an interview with Raj Patel.

Raj Patel, more:

Raj Patel, director, author, professor, brings his latest project, “The Ants & The Grasshopper” to Mountainfilm for its world premiere in Telluride.

Raj Patel is an award-winning author, film-maker and academic. He is a Research Professor in the Lyndon B Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin and a Senior Research Associate at the Unit for the Humanities at the university currently known as Rhodes University (UHURU), South Africa.

He holds degrees from the University of Oxford, the London School of Economics and Cornell University, has worked for the World Bank and WTO, and protested against them around the world.

Raj co-taught the 2014 “Edible Education” class at UC Berkeley with Michael Pollan.

In 2016 Raj was recognized with a James Beard Foundation Leadership Award. He has testified about the causes of the global food crisis to the US, UK and EU governments and is a member of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems.

In addition to scholarly publications in economics, philosophy, politics and public health journals, Raj regularly writes for The Guardian, and has contributed to the Financial Times, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Times of India, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Mail on Sunday, and The Observer.

His first book was “Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System.” His second, “The Value of Nothing,” was a New York Times and international best-seller. He is co-author with Jason W. Moore of “A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things.” Raj’s latest book, co-authored with Rupa Marya,  entitled “Inflamed: Deep Medicine and The Anatomy of Injustice” will be available in August 2021.

Raj Patel can be heard co-hosting the fortnightly food politics podcast “The Secret Ingredient” with Mother Jones’ Tom Philpott, and KUT’s Rebecca McInroy.

He is currently completing a documentary project about the global food system.

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