Watch This: Surviving Progress

Posted on January 5, 2013 by


SURVIVING PROGRESS               images


Mathieu Roy & Harold Crooks

86 minutes

Although it failed to engage me at it’s onset Surviving Progress did grow on me to the point of rapt interest.  This film asks some huge, almost unreasonably answerable questions such as ‘What is progress.’  SP explores this and other questions in a deep, thorough manner that requires considerable attention from the viewer.  Once my interest was aroused enough to explore this cavern of inquiry I did enjoy the journey.

At a deep level SP asks the viewer to consider priorities.  What is more important: economic growth OR the environment?  While the argument can be made that one can serve both interests the film makes the case that the major global powers choose economy first, which leaves all else secondary.  This dynamic is well illustrated by a particularly poignant sequence featuring an environmental police officer in Brazil.  The officer explains that she wanted to serve her country and its resources, to protect and serve.  She found that her ability to have a real impact was severely limited by the actual scope of her responsibilities.  Rather than tracking down ‘bad guys’ indiscriminately logging for massive profits she found herself hassling low income villagers who depend on the forest for their livelihood.  It felt like a ‘lose-lose’ situation with people doing the best they can to serve their families and their country falling short of this aim.

I have some personal experience with this issue.  I have worked alongside loggers – both careful stewards of the forest and the clear-cutting variety.  Both had families to feed, bills to pay, and a passion for their work.  In my current view neither feel wrong or right; they just had different priorities.

After considering this films message for a few days it became clear.  SP is not telling us what to do or judging what has been done.  It only asks at a GLOBAL level:  WHAT IS YOUR PRIORITY?

David Cohen


Posted in: Watch This