British filmmaker Robert Alstead has a knack for predicting political upsets. In 1990, he was working as an intern at the U.K.’s Independent newspaper when he correctly guessed the number of votes it eventually took for the Conservative Party to remove Margaret Thatcher as its leader.
More than 20 years later, he put that foresight to work in selecting Andrew Weaver as the subject of Running on Climate, a film screening at the DOXA fest about a Green Party candidate hoping for an upset in B.C.’s 2013 provincial election.
The Greens had never held a seat in the legislature, and the provincial Liberals had held the constituency of Oak Bay–Gordon Head since 1996. But, Alstead told the Straight, he had a good feeling about Weaver and thought it would be worth putting cameras on him early in the campaign.
“It just seemed like there was always somewhere where the film could go, even if he didn’t win,” Alstead said. “But I thought he had a strong chance.”
The gamble paid off, and the result is an exhilarating portrait of a grassroots political campaign from the moment of its origin.
The film features appearances by eco-celebrities such as James Hansen and David Suzuki, but Weaver remains the star. Explaining in the film his reasons for entering politics, he says: “Clearly, if the politicians are not dealing with it [climate change], what we need is people to get elected who aren’t afraid to raise this issue.”
Running on Climate screens at 5:45 p.m. at the Vancity Theatre on Saturday (May 2).