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Greg Dorey


Part of UK in Hungary

4th June 2011

"Call of Life": The European premiere

On 31 May the British Embassy’s conference hall was (not for the first time) turned into a cinema. I co-hosted the evening screening of the film “Call of Life: Facing Mass Extinction” with the Hungarian State Secretary for the Environment, Zoltan Illes. This was far from the first time we worked together. The history of our partnership includes events like the “10:10” Hungary campaign launch and the sourcing of British experts to help with identifying a remedy and suitable environmental clean-up operation after a Hungarian industrial disaster (the so-called red sludge catastrophy) last October. This time the State Secretary had suggested marking the International Day of Biodiversity with a joint event. I was happy to agree and the timing was excellent – given publication of the first ever EU Biodiversity Strategy on 3 May.

The film “Call of Life” was a good choice. It is the first feature documentary to investigate the growing threat to Earth’s life support systems from the loss of biodiversity that is taking place around us. This is now happening at an unprecedented scale and frightening pace, but we often turn a blind eye because our modern lifestyles often disconnect us from nature. The film explores the causes; the scope; and the potential effects of the problem. It also considers how our cultural and economic systems, and our psychological and behavioral patterns have contributed.

Thanks to the enthusiasm of Adam Fulop, we received a copy of the film from director/producer Monte Thompson (and from the US) in record time. And our NGO partners Greenpeace Hungary and Diverziti quickly produced a Hungarian translation and subtitles. So we could hold the premiere only one week later than the actual International Day of Biodiversity (22 May). We also invited two more NGOs: the World Wildlife Fund and the Jane Goodall Institute Hungary to advice our audience of 150 contacts how they can take part in practical biodervisity saving programmes and actions. They have since told us that they managed to secure new company participants for their corporate volunteer programmes during the reception after the screening.

This is a film everybody should see. So I was glad to learn that cinemas theaters in Budapest will start showing the film from tomorrow. To whet your appetites, let me quote a New Zealand press review on the film: “Discussions about topics like the psychology of denial, climate change, the importance of conserving populations not just species, and how the historical changes in religious and spiritual attitudes have influenced reverence for the environment, are interspersed with powerful, brilliantly explained examples – the way the blood of lizards on the West Coast of the U.S. protects humans from Lyme disease was a particular gem, leading one to wonder what kinds of protection we might lose before we even know we’re benefiting. Serious, rich and challenging, Call of Life rises far beyond the superficial environmental jeremiads of many documentaries and explores its subject in commendable depth.”