e45 abbott – a compassionate, just and sustainable world

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The notion of reality and the way we grasp reality as humans is so deeply subjective, but it’s also socially constructed, and so, as a filmmaker – and this is relevant because I’m also a Zen Buddhist – from both those perspectives, I try to explore what we perceive as reality to untangle and figure out in what ways are we being deluded? And in what ways do we have clear vision? And obviously the more clear vision we can have, the better actions we take to ensure a more compassionate, just and sustainable livable world. I’m all for untangling the delusion while admitting wholeheartedly that to untangle it fully is impossible.

jennifer abbott, conscient podcast, may 6, 2021, british columbia

Jennifer Abbott is a Sundance and Genie award-winning film director, writer, editor, producer and sound designer who specializes in social justice and environmental documentaries. Born in Montreal, Abbott studied political science with a particular interest in radical political thought, women’s studies and deep ecology at McGill University and now live in British Columbia.  

She is the co-director (with Mark Achbar) and editor of The Corporation (2003), the top grossing and most awarded documentary in Canadian history and also the director, writer, editor, sound designer and co-producer of The Magnitude of all Things (2020) and the Co-Director (with Joel Bakan) and Supervising Editor of The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel (2020), both of which I strongly recommend. 

The Magnitude of all Things is a unique and powerful film. It’s a cinematic exploration of the emotional and psychological dimensions of climate change that explores Jennifer loss of her sister to cancer and the profound gravity of climate breakdown and draws intimate parallels between the experiences of grief—both personal and planetary. This film brought me to tears and resonated deeply. I reached out to Jennifer to talk about this important film as well as her other work.

There were many poignant moments in our conversation, including this thought about grief and compassion: 

In terms of why people are so often unable to accept the reality of climate change, I think it’s very understandable, because the scale and the violence of it is just so vast, it’s difficult to comprehend. It’s also so depressing and enraging if one knows the politics behind it and overwhelming. I don’t think we, as a species, deal with things that have those qualities very well and we tend to look away. I have a lot of compassion, including for myself, in terms of how difficult it is to come to terms with the climate catastrophe. It is the end of the world as we know it. We don’t know what exactly the new world is going to look like, but we do know we’re headed for some catastrophe. 

As I have done in all episodes in season 2 so far, I have integrated excerpts from soundscape compositions and quotations drawn from e19 reality, as well as moments of silence, in this episode.

I would like to thank Jennifer for taking the time to speak with me, for sharing her passion for social justice and for her outstanding contributions to environmental activism.

For more information on Jennifer’s work, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jennifer_Abbott


Jennifer Abbott during the filming of The Magnitude of All Things with DOP Vince Arvidson
Jennifer Abbott pendant le tournage de The Magnitude of All Things avec le directeur de la photographie Vince Arvidson.

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