The thought-provoking films of former Gibsons’ resident Velcrow Ripper usually start with a question. His latest film asks: How can a current global crisis involving climate change and economic collapse become a love story?
To answer this question, Ripper placed himself on the streets of New York on the first day of the Occupy Wall Street movement last year to document the emerging groundswell.
“It’s not just a movement with one name,” he said. “It’s a general zeitgeist.”
Ripper believes that love can have a practical, global agenda and he builds a case in this third documentary in the series that began with Scared Sacred and was followed with Fierce Love. His latest, Occupy Love, will premiere at the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) on Oct. 4.
It has been a 12-year journey, the filmmaker said, to produce this trilogy, and in many ways, this latest is the one he has been waiting to make all his life.
“Beginning with the Arab spring, I’m feeling the pulsing of possibility in the world,” Ripper said.
His message of hope, so prominent in earlier films, has been joined by a message of love.
“Love is so universal,” he said. “It’s so simple. Who can argue with love?”
Ripper, the media activist, also describes himself as “a Sufi, Buddhist, Baha’i, punk rocker.”
He is living in an extra-ordinary time and is aware that political activists may scoff at his message of spirituality.
“There’s always been a spiritual dimension to actions,” he said. “This new generation is far more comfortable with the idea of spirituality.”
Occupy Love is a film of many voices woven together: prominent figures such as feminist activist Judy Rebick, economist and writer Jeremy Rifkin and author activist Naomi Klein, and many of the protesters, individually and collectively. There are a few hot buttons in the issues that they cover that are particularly pertinent to Canada: the tar sands and indigenous environmental issues, for example, but ultimately the foundation of the film is the concept that love can unite as much as greed can divide.
Ripper’s career started at Elphinstone Secondary School in the 1980s as one of the original students who helped to set up the Coast Cable video production class with his teacher Marta McKown.
Because much of his large family still lives on the West Coast, he laughs that he usually has about 20 people at his film premieres who are related to him. This showing should be no different. The film launches at 9 p.m. on Oct. 4 in Vancouver. It screens again on Oct. 6 at noon with the film crew in attendance, and again on Oct. 10 at 12:45 p.m., giving schedule options for day-trippers from the Coast.