Art can be cyclical, just like Mother Nature.
Twenty-three years ago, Alice Klein wrote about my film Hookers On Davie. Now she's the filmmaker and I'm covering her film debut.
NOW CEO Klein leapt into moviemaking when she heard about a nature-lovers' gathering in central Brazil organized by two eco-gurus she'd written about previously.
"Whether it turned out to be a good event or one with human flaws, I knew it could become an artifact for the valuable lessons to be learned," she says thoughtfully at my kitchen table, chomping down takeout curry I've had delivered from the eco-friendly Curryer.
Her documentary takes its title from the Brazilian eco-event, Call Of The Hummingbird (see review, page 108), a 13-day gathering in a part of Brazil that Klein says she knew would look beautiful on film.
"Almost 1,000 earth-lovers would discover what type of paradise we could create by building a temporary peace eco-village and facilitating our own work for the earth, drawing on nature as our guide."
Klein's project isn't the product of a nascent eco-consciousness - she's been greening NOW for years. To give just one example, she played a major role in making the newspaper the first in Canada to commit to an ancient-forest-friendly paper policy.
Most telling, this savvy businesswoman has not chosen to spin her financial success into profit-seeking entrepreneurial endeavours. Instead, she's used her resources to make an inspiring film about humanity's green potential.
The events in Hummingbird unfold in vérité footage interwoven with her personal narration and the story of the Mayan calendar, which foretells that our chapter of time will end in December 2012.
"It was a way for me to vent my frustration with traditional lefty blame-and-shame politics, and there was the irresistible allure of playing with the 2012 prophecy, or coincidence, of the Mayan calendar. I tried very hard to convey that there's a timeline for change, and the time is now."
Transporting a minimal crew to the wilds of South America to live in tents and film 1,000 people dislocated from their daily routines is insanely ambitious. Klein agrees, and recalls a huge learning curve.
"I was the director, producer, writer and narrator. We were all camera assistants and water-bearers. The only role I had any previous experience in was writing, and that was my saving grace."
But making a weekly newspaper for over 25 years is one thing; filmmaking is something else entirely. Klein started by rounding up cinematographer Donna Mobbs and sound recordist Mike Filippov and taking them with her to South America.
"At first I thought I would shoot it - on a wing and a prayer, really, since I'd never made a film - and then I hooked up with editor Caroline Christie in Toronto and knew I wanted to work with her.
"My whole crew was great. They had faith in me that I'd make something important, and they took a risk with me as a first-time filmmaker," she recalls fondly.
On the one hand, Klein's film is about the change we need to make to live in harmony. On the other, it's about systems of resistance preventing this change.
"I'm no longer interested in a politic of only social justice, or only fairness or even only environmentalism. It's time for politics to get turned onto holism.
"We're not only messing up the planet - we're messing up ourselves, too. There's an epidemic of depression. We're not happy. I'm interested in a politic that includes health and happiness," she says, barely catching her breath now that we're discussing her lifelong passion.
"Just as we've turned to holistic nourishment for ourselves, politics needs a holistic approach, not only to deal with global warming or any issue singularly, but to find ways to live in balance," she continues.
The fascinating thing is that Call Of The Hummingbird shows how impossible that sort of utopia seems to be, even for the best-intentioned among us.
But Klein sees the film as espousing the politics of hope.
"Hope is not a luxury or a sweet thing for fools - it's a call to action. Unless you think there's a chance, it's hard to summon the energy. If we can stop disempowering ourselves and stop saying things are so bad, we can pull together. And we can do great things."