Short Film Review: ‘Planting Earth Week’ (2020)

+ Recommended – NR, Documentary (13 minutes)


“All we have today is to fight for tomorrow.” – Karlos Edmonds

In order to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day–especially at a time in which Americans and people all over the world are encouraged to stay home and practice social distancing–consider watching this concise documentary and asking yourself, ” What am I doing to alter the course of human history?” Small actions that are taken now have significant ramifications for the future of our species and our planet. Stay home, stay safe, and most importantly, start planting.

Karlos Edmonds plans for his greatest climate protest action yet—to illegally plant trees in New York City’s Central Park—even after getting arrested 12 times in the last year. With the 50th anniversary of Earth Day coming up, he is well on his way to building his protest army until a worldwide pandemic threatens to cancel mass gatherings. But what at first seems like a downfall of his plans, becomes an opportunity for others to plant trees in their own homes, fulfilling Edmonds’ vision of helping make a greener earth in a non-radical way.

Official synopsis

Director Brian Ryu and producer Troy Enoka had the intention of capturing a very intimate cause through their “vérité” style of filmmaking. As they follow Edmonds on the ground floor of his operation, it becomes very apparent that the guerrilla approach to filmmaking successfully broaches the topic of climate change in a relatable way. The call-to-action from Edmonds and other climate activists isn’t intangible; the accessibility of this story, in particular, could inspire others to begin their own movements. What started as, more-or-less, a one-man army, became a very real, legitimate political force.

However, Edmonds “radical” nature has led several other climate activists to question his methods. Greg Schwedock, a member of Extinction Rebellion, believes that any movement loses their tactical advantage for negotiating by employing violence in political demonstrations. Ellisif Wasmuth shares a similar view: that how you treat fellow human beings, matters. A sharp divide among climate activists has led to a properly defined “decentralization” of the climate change movement. Without any real direction on a global scale, it’s likely that the critical revisions needed to save the planet will take even longer to pass through state and global systems. This in-group discourse is the most fascinating, and arguably, important, subplot of the documentary; as the focus shifts from a single individual to a tougher question about what concessions should be sacrificed for the global movement.

Clocking in at 13 minutes, the documentary canvasses the implications of climate activism in New York City. Considering that the state of New York is currently the epicenter of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States, and given Governor Andrew Cuomo’s strict stay-at-home order, the activists’ plan for a mass gathering and illegal planting of trees in New York City’s Central Park came to a screeching halt. However, the crisis has given people an opportunity to work on making Earth a greener place from home–with their families. Perhaps, the most heartwarming scenes of the documentary are when Edmonds is shown spending time with his son, planting trees. Planting Earth Week‘s score is simple, yet effective, at the right times in the documentary–including these familial interactions.

If anything, the significance of the documentary is, in fact, underlining that it will take everyone inhabiting this planet to change the course of our history. From Edmonds, and all of the other activists featured in the documentary, to you reading this review: it will take all of us. But we have to remember that we are all in this fight together–no matter what we believe is the most effective form of activism.

Daylight Interactive has the documentary for viewing here:

Additional interview with the director, Brian Ryu, here:

Brian Ryu is a South Korean documentary filmmaker and journalist. He is a producer of Planting Earth Week. Previously, his animations have appeared in The New York Times and The New Yorker. Before getting his undergraduate degree in Film & TV Production at New York University, he was a United Nations peacekeeper in South Sudan. 

Troy Enoka is a producer based out of Honolulu, Hawaii. He produced a web series, a feature film and over 15 award winning short films. He graduated from New York University in 2018 in Film and TV Production. His documentaries have been featured on PBS Hawaii, a member of the Public Broadcasting Service as well as online.

Image via Daylight Interactive

Image via Daylight Interactive

Image via Daylight Interactive

Author: Jared Charles

I am the owner of The Burrow Reviews. Currently studying Film, English, Political Science, and Gender Studies.

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