Down to Earth

Down to Earth

Image by Down to Earth

Daniel Nelson

Down to Earth is surely a Marmite film: you'll either by inspired by the words and actions of the featured Keepers of the Earth or find them irrelevant.

Filmmakers Rolf and Renata Winters take their three children on a five-year adventure in which they live for varying periods with tribal communities in the Amazon jungle, India, the Kalahari, the Andes, the Astralian Outback and north and South America.

Thankfully, it's not about the family: you see the kids running around with their hosts and you get some of the family's reactions to the people they meet, but the focus is mostly on the thoughts of people such as Nowaten ("He who listens"), an 80-year-old  medicine man who lives in the woods ("the most incredible source of wisdom we ever encountered"). The film's aim is unashamedly "to empower audiences to reconnect - with their own spirit, with the source. Empower them to wake up from the illusion society creates, raise consciousness so we can start creating a new story together".

The film's intimacy stems from the absence of a crew and by the Winters' decision to allow the Earth Keepers to say what they want, with few questions and sometimes few interpreters: "We would only find out what we had recorded after we got it translated line by line afterwards. In hindsight these sessions delivered the best sequences."

There's good photography, too - this is a big production, not a home movie - and getting glimpses into other people's lives, especially lives far from our own, is always fascinating.

Will it change your life? Probably not, but it might give you a nudge. Some of the wisdom ("The real problem is the lifestyle of consumption"/ "This so-called progress has killed many nations") is widely known: the problem is acting on it.

One way to do so, suggest the Winters, is to help them bypass the conventional film distribution system and "arrange your own screenings or screenings in local cinemas, because Down to Earth is more than a film. It is a call to action."

* Down to Earth premieres in UK at Picturehouse Central on 11 September, £50 with all proceeds going to Survival International, and will be on general release from 14 September. InFo: https://www.downtoearthfilm.com/

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