One of the things that didn’t get as much attention as it probably should have about the announcement that James Cameron has agreed to make Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 his next projects was that, in order to convince him, 20th Century Fox made a “huge donation” to his environmental green fund. If that doesn’t underline Cameron’s dedication to the cause, then perhaps A Message To Pandora will. (See all of Techland’s Avatar coverage)
Pandora, a 20 minute documentary that appears on the special edition Blu-Ray of Avatar released next Tuesday, is the result of two trips Cameron made to the Amazon rainforest at the invitation of the organization Amazon Watch and documents Cameron’s experience meeting the indigenous and riverbank communities whose way of life is threatened by Brazil’s $17 million Belo Monte Dam project – A project that would divert the flow of the Xingu River and, in the process, displace more than 20,000 people. Sound eerily familiar?
It wasn’t just the parallels between the battle over the Belo Monte Dam and Avatar that moved Cameron to action – he’s been an environmental activist for years (“Really since my teenage years,” he said in an interview earlier this year) – but the success of Avatar has led him to be more active on the topic. In addition to using the popularity of the movie to bring attention to the plight of the people living along the Xingu, he’s also spoken out about the extraction of the Alberta Tar Sands, been part of the think tank to deal with the BP oil spill and gave $1 million to the campaign against California’s Prop 23 to suspend the state’s global warming law (The proposition was defeated last week). (More on Techland: Origins: What Influences James Cameron)
Unlike many celebrities, he’s realistic about his activism; at the recent press launch of the Avatar special edition Blu-Ray, he said that it wasn’t enough to simply lend his name to a cause:
The first question I ask is, what can [I] really do? You have to make a commitment to follow-up, it can’t just be a drive-by. I’m not delusional enough to think a movie can change the world. I have to follow it up with direct action.
Of course, that direct action can take many forms, whether it’s traveling to the Amazon to see what’s going on first hand, making a documentary about that trip to show others, or getting a multinational corporation to give a lot of money to environmental causes as a way of convincing you to make a movie that will inspire even more people to activism through heavily environmental themes. Maybe a movie really can change the world, after all.
More On Techland: