Behind the Scenes on the Fight for a Green New Deal

What drove you to direct this film?

What [sparked] my idea for making this film was the 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report, which gave the deadline of 2030 [to cut emissions enough to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius], leaving us 12 years to make massive changes.

You have scientists begging for political solutions because governments are the entities big enough to enact changes on the scale of what the scientists say are necessary to avert the worst of the climate crisis.

From my previous work on Knock Down the House and The Hand That Feeds, about unions, my main question was: “How do politically impossible things become possible?”

That’s what led me to say, “Okay, let’s follow this idea of the Green New Deal through four incredible women who are key players and see how far we get in a couple of years.”

Why did you choose to focus on four women?

With this film and Knock Down the House, I wasn’t going out and looking for the best female characters for a film. I was looking, more broadly, for the best people to watch. In the climate justice movement, there are a lot of women leaders, especially young women of color, which is what this film highlights.

They come from the communities most affected by climate change and they care the most, but they are not the leaders highlighted in media representation. So once I met with those working in climate activism, it made sense to highlight four women of color and their experiences.

You started filming in 2018 and wrapped in December 2021. Can you talk about how the story and the fight for a Green New Deal evolved?

I see it as a coming-of-age story because 2018 was about them having more power than they’d had in their lives. Then, [the question] came to [be] which direction things would go after the 2020 election. President Biden said he would prioritize climate. As we all know, [Biden’s climate agenda in the Build Back Better Act] did not pass. But I don’t want people to forget how close we came.

[Editor’s note: The bill, which did not have the support of all 50 Democratic Senators it would need to pass, did not make it to the Senate floor in its original form. There are ongoing efforts to pass a pared-down version of the legislation this summer.]

What was one of your favorite moments in the film?

When AOC says at a rally: “Are you in this for the rest of your life? Because I’m in this for the rest of my life.” That was such a powerful moment, and that commitment is what this movement needs. The title of the film, To The End, is a play on that. There is no ending. The struggle continues.

Did you set out to depict a roadmap of how people can get involved in the climate movement?

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