Toronto Volunteer Action at TIFF Premiere

Last Thursday night, a group of our Toronto Greenpeace volunteers engaged in a street action outside downtown’s Toronto International Film Festival box office, where the premiere of director Avi Lewis’s documentary ‘This Changes Everything’ was held at 7pm. We sought to engage passersby in discussions about voting for electoral candidates with strong climate platforms, in a continuation of our ‘I Vote Climate campaign’, especially as Canadians headed into advance voting over the weekend and as the elections day next week quickly approaches.

The film is based on the best-selling book of the same title by author Naomi Klein, and describes itself as an "urgent dispatch on climate change" which "contends that the greatest crisis we have ever faced also offers us the opportunity to address and correct the inhumane systems that have created it". Klein and Lewis had reached out to Greenpeace before coming to Toronto and offered us the chance to have a table at the premiere. After meeting at the office to gather materials, campaign T-shirts, and for some, paint our faces (though, admittedly, we wound up being mistaken for sports fans more than once!), our group headed downtown. We were welcomed by the TIFF staff to set up on the street outside the box office, and came prepared with Greenpeace banners, placards with our climate ‘asks’ of politicians, and campaign flyers, buttons and tattoos. We also staged a social media photo op, trying to get photos of voters showing us their #HarperFace!

For just over an hour our group spread out along the sidewalks and disseminated information about our campaign, which was overall well-received and met with interest, as well agreement from many people about the importance of climate issues being a priority to our new PM. Around 6:30, as people began to arrive to see the show, the film’s director Avi Lewis came out to greet our group and thank us for our presence, which was an exciting moment. Shortly afterwards, with the show about to begin, we packed up and those of us with tickets to see the film headed inside. We were pleased to find we had been reserved seats in the theater, and also received a ‘thank you’ from Lewis when he and Naomi Klein took the stage before the film began.

I think I speak for all of us when I say that the film was fantastic. It was moving, truthful, and inspiring, and I would say a must-see for those of us passionate about creating a sustainable and socially just future (as well as for all climate change skeptics!). Afterwards, Lewis and Klein returned to the stage to host a Q&A session, and held a great discussion with viewers about the film and movement in general. Once everything wrapped up, the Greenpeace group had the chance to chat with Lewis once again on our way out, and give our thanks for the film and opportunity to be present.

If you are interested in participating in similar action, or just seeing the film, ‘This Changes Everything’ is playing in Toronto nightly until this Thursday evening, and across Canada over the next few weeks. Keep up to date on our upcoming volunteer events in your areas by continuing to check in on Greenwire, and join us!