The 4th Revolution (VIFF)

Frieda Werden

All revolutions are about power;  but 'The 4th Revolution,' a Vancouver International Film Festival highlight, is about renewable power.  Reviewer and Spoken Word Coordinator Frieda Werden says it is a must see and is heartened to know that "the energy revolution is not only inevitable but already well under way."

“The 4th Revolution [Die 4. Revolution ]: Energy Autonomy” was made by Carl-A. Fechner. His country, Germany, is already styled as “the world’s first major renewable-energy economy.” Their national parliament building, the Reichstag in Berlin, became 100% powered by renewable energy in 2009, and renewable energy is the major source of new jobs and economic growth in the country. 

The 4th Revolution is not about Germany however, it’s about the realism of switching over to renewables, and about people around the world who are pioneering these technologies. In Los Angeles for example, movie stars are buying locally-designed and -built electric sports cars, thereby defraying the development costs for future reasonably-priced electric vehicles for ordinary use. In Mali, a solar panel installed in a village clinic allows a midwife to stop having to conduct deliveries with a flashlight held between her neck and her shoulder. Global networking is represented by a young Malian who first studies solar technology in Denmark and then borrows the money for his projects from the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. 

For people who don’t already have sources of electricity, nor the money to import fossil fuel energy, the choice of renewables is obvious. Fechner builds a case that renewables are not only feasible, but essential for all of us as well, through statements from proponents and skeptics about renewable energy for the developed world. 

Without belabouring, this film outlines how the fossil fuel industry keeps the US and other developed-world governments from getting on board with this “4th Revolution.” In a few short sentences about costs, the film demolishes the case for carbon capture and storage. Besides solar projects big and small, the film depicts advances in wind energy generation, and also in conservation through architectural design and retrofitting. It shows local electrical production attached to grids where energy can be shared regionally. It shows use of heated-water reservoirs as a way of saving and sharing energy. It shows co-generation from recaptured energy – heat, biomass, etc. – that would otherwise have been wasted. It also features Bianca Jagger as an activist for forest preservation in Brazil. 

What I took away from “The 4th Revolution” that will last for me is the sense that it is not true that these technologies are not ready for deployment, or that it would be too expensive to use them, compared to fossil fuels. Nor would our quality of life have to suffer if we made the switchover. It made me feel in fact rather cheerful that the energy revolution is not only inevitable but already well under way. 

"The 4th Revolution" film screens during the Vancouver International Film Festival on October 2nd, 14th, and 15th. 

Schedule availablehere.


  • Posted on: 11 March 2016
  • By: Administrator