A man, seen from behind, holds a placard reading "there is no planet B". Around him are other protesters marching in a road.

Rebels tell personal stories of activism in new short films

Ahead of planned protests in London from April 21, Extinction Rebellion (XR) Bristol are hoping to attract new members to their cause with a series of short videos that show the group’s activists in a new light. 

Media headlines can often portray activists as extremists, said Fergus Dingle, the filmmaker behind the new videos. 

But in reality, he continued, ‘they are just everyday people, just normal people who are finding the time in their schedule to act on their knowledge of what’s happening in the world and their beliefs about what could be possible. 

‘They’re hopeful, optimistic, strong activists and we need more of them.’

Each of the ten short films consists of an interview to camera with a member of XR as they tell the story of how they became involved and what being an activist means to them.  

‘You don’t have to block a road to be a member of XR. I do the cooking,’ says Josphine in her video.

She talks about how she became worried about the environment as a young girl, growing up on a council estate in Leeds, and watching nature being stripped away as new roads and houses were built. 

‘Once you step over the line into activism, whether it’s in a minor way or a big way, it’s like a release…when you actually start doing it you always feel better,’ Josephine explains. 

Ben Moss, meanwhile, speaks in his video about the community he has found amongst other XR members. 

‘The people that I know in Bristol are people who I’m sharing my future with. That gives me hope, that gives me community, that gives me a sense of urgency. That’s the stuff that kind of keeps the fires burning is that sense of we’re doing this together in the face of not knowing what else to do,’ says Ben. 

Fergus, who has worked in film and television for 16 years, became involved in XR himself two years ago. He said he was motivated to make the films by a desire to understand whether activism required a particular personality type ‘or whether anyone can be an activist.’

He said that he hopes the films will ‘normalise and humanise activism’ for those who are concerned about the climate but don’t know how to take the first step towards taking action. 

Fergus has previously made films with George Monbiot and Greta Thunberg, who he described as being ‘amazing’ to work with. 

‘I’ve really started to see the power of what film can do for the environmental movement,’ said Fergus, stressing film’s ability to show the truth and change people’s behaviour. 

Never has this been more important, as the world faces unprecedented warming even as fossil fuel companies like Shell and BP rake in record-breaking profits. 

XR UK are planning mass protests in London beginning on April 21, and Fergus wants as many people as possible to join in. 

‘I just don’t want anyone out there to regret not being at an event in London that started the shift towards a really positive, just future for our children and the rest of humanity,’ he said. 

You can watch all the videos at the XR Bristol YouTube channel here.

Leave a Reply