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Voices of Transition

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Voices of Transition
Theatrical release poster
Directed byNils Aguilar
Produced byMilpa Films
StarringRob Hopkins
Claude Bourguignon
Vandana Shiva
Edited byNicolas Nørgaard Staffolani
Distributed byMilpa Films
Running time
65 minutes
CountriesFrance, Germany
LanguagesEnglish, Spanish, French

Voices of Transition (Cultures en Transition in French) is a 2012[1] documentary film by film director and producer Nils Aguilar. The film was produced in France and Germany and examines the danger posed to agricultural production by energy and resource scarcity. It depicts organic agricultural alternatives in France, the Transition Towns movement and urbanised food production in Cuba as forerunners of the transformation of food production away from industrialised agriculture and towards small-scale, decentralised production methods.[2] The German cinema debut was held on 2 May 2013[3] as part of a wider German cinema tour,[4] followed or preceded by theatrical releases and tours in Italy[34], USA[35], Portugal[36] Wallonia[5] and Flanders[6] (Belgium), Great Britain[7], Argentina and Chile.[9]



Using interviews and overlays of graphics and text, the film presents the current problems facing industrial agriculture. It explores why in the interviewees' view the current industrial model is not up to the task of feeding the world's people. According to the film every calorie of energy contained in a food source currently takes between 10 and 20 calories of crude oil in the production of fertilizers and transportation to produce, leading to a strong dependence of the cost of food on oil prices. As a result of peak oil and increasing oil prices this dependence will lead to ever increasing food prices. According to the film, this dependence already represents a significant weak-spot in the global food supply chain.[5] Additionally, agriculture is already responsible for 40% of greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change. Furthermore, the film argues that the overuse of inorganic fertilizers has been responsible for the loss of soil fertility and threatens the complete loss of usable soil within the next decades through soil erosion and sinking crop yields. These effects, according to the film, can only be partly mitigated by the increased use of those same fertilizers. The loss of workplaces, the concentration of land in the hands of a few (allegedly a farm closes every 23 minutes in France) as well as the dependence on large corporations are enumerated as side effects of the industrialisation of agriculture since the 1920s. Companies, such as Monsanto and Bayer, control everything from seed stock to fertilizers and the necessary chemical mixes for hybrid plants, thereby controlling the entire supply chain. The film argues that this development was supported through subsidies from the World Bank. Interviews with Vandana Shiva, the founder of the Transition Towns movement Rob Hopkins and various agricultural experts serve to argue this viewpoint. The dependence on crude oil is illustrated through the example of the wholesale food market in Rungis.

Agroforestry in Normandy

To illustrate alternative scenarios the documentary visits places in England and France to conduct various interviews. Agroforestry expert Martin Crawford[6] gives a tour of his forest garden, explaining how the assortment of different plants on various levels results in a symbiotic relationship between them whereby they supply each other with nutrients. He explains the high productivity rate and efficiencies realised through the use of these Permaculture principles. A further application is shown on farmlands, where rows of trees are planted with cereal crops in between. As a result, the later can still be harvested using large-scale machinery, while the trees provide a better microclimate by providing living space for animals, much higher rates of biodiversity and a replenishing of the soil as a result of the regular loss of root structures. According to the interviewees in the film the trees themselves could provide a counterbalance to the deficit of wood in European countries, act as carbon sinks and contribute to the value of the land. As experts on these matters the film presents Christian Dupraz[7] from the French Institut national de la Recherche Agronomique as well as French soil scientist Claude Bourguignon.

Rob Hopkins

The second part of the film depicts the British Transition Towns initiative, whose local actors claim to promote a more liveable future by building resilient structures in anticipation of the threats of peak oil, climate change and economic crises.[5] The film shows Permaculture gardener Mike Feingold[8] as he works in his allotment and whilst making apple juice from apples he has harvested himself. Further, the film highlights barter markets, local currencies such as the Totnes Pound[9] and events where plants are planted with the goal of making 'edible cities'. Sally Jenkins, as representative for the project Grofun (Growing Real Organic Food in Urban Neighbourhoods)[10] shows how she plants food in her front yard to inspire her neighbours to do the same. Co-founder of the initiative Rob Hopkins, who stresses the importance of building a vision that will be able to carry people through the decades to come, further explains the whole movement. According to him this will act both as the means to jointly prepare for looming crises while simultaneously re-learning to enjoy life.

Cooperative Alamar, Cuba

The final third of the film turns to Cuba, whose agriculture was cut off from the use of crude oil and global food markets at the beginning of the 1990s due to the fall of the Soviet Union. As a result, community gardens and urban agriculture developed, in which organically grown food is produced. The film claims that the Cuban capital Havana is able to source 70% of its fresh vegetable needs directly within the city or its immediate surroundings,[2][11] with a yield of up to 20 kg per square meter. Fernando Funes-Monzote, co-founder of the Grupo de Agricultura Organica (winners of the 1999 Right Livelihood Award)[12] appears as the main interviewee. He claims that Cuba must be the only country which is close to developing a sustainable food supply, a claim which is supported by a WWF study according to which Cuba is the only country to fulfil the minimal criteria for sustainable development.[13] Governmental support of urban agriculture has led to a higher degree of food sovereignty and a degree of independence from the world market and oil prices. Because of this, Cuba's forced development could serve as an example for other countries whose resource shortages are yet to come.



Director Nils Aguilar explained in an interview that he was "deeply moved"[14] by the experience of large agricultural companies using thugs to silence indigenous groups protesting against their displacement in Argentina. Examining concepts such as permaculture since 2003 and the themes of the book Le Sol, la Terre et les Champs by French soil scientist Claude Bourguignon further inspired him to make the film,[15] which aims to "…inspire action by showing positive solutions."[14]

The stated aim of the project is to give the Transition Towns Movement an educational tool with which to promote organic agriculture.[16] Aguilar, born 1980 in Tübingen,[5] started the project with a co-director who left the film early on as he "…didn't really believe in it."[17] As a result, Aguilar decided to master the project as a "non-specialist autodidact", which took around four years.[17]

The film depended in large part on voluntary help, as a result of the fact that the Director himself produced the low-budget film.[5] The film was supported by the European Union Programme Youth in Action and the French Ministry of Youth's Envie d'agir Programme.[18] Two successful crowdfunding campaigns also contributed to the making of the documentary.[19][20] The film is being independently distributed in Germany.[21]



A very first prescreening of the yet unfinalised film was organised during the Transition Towns movement conference in Hannover in November 2010.[22]

The "Festival Alimenterre 2013" screened the film 192 times in African and French speaking countries, eventually reaching 12.520 auditors [32].

The Cinema Politica Festival screened the film in six Canadian universities. [33]

The film has been broadcast in the UK,[23] in Hungary, Romania, Slovenia[24] and Croatia.[25]





The film was awarded the Prize of the Public at the Univerciné Festival Nantes 2017,[51] a Main prize in the category "Ecological Success Stories" at the Ekotopfilm-Festival[52] and the Rector's award at the Festival Agrofilm 2015.,[53] amongst others.

The film was chosen as one of the ten most popular films by the Transition Towns initiative.[54]

Several local Transition initiatives were started following a screening.[17]

Professor Uwe Schneidewind, Director of the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy "a Masterpiece! Fascinating both in content as well as in form."

Professor Niko Paech, Chairman of the German Association for Ecological Economy (Vereinigung für Ökologische Ökonomie) wrote: "I’m more excited about this film than any of the others looking at these topics. I’ve already seen it five times – more than Blade Runner and High Noon!"[55]

The Indian Physicist and recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, Vandana Shiva, is cited as saying that "This precious film is about shaping the future here and now. With our tiny steps and collective solidarity, we will make sure the Tree of Life flourishes and grows!"in an interview with the filmmaker.[55]

Bill McKibben, American Journalist and climate activist commented, "as this film shows, we can transition to a new world – there's a way, provided we summon the will!" [57]

The British co-founder of the Transition Towns Rob Hopkins has said of the film that it "...educates, opens minds to new possibilities and presents a new vision of how our food system could be. As a historic transition unfolds, this film is a very powerful tool."[55]

David Bollier, author and co-founder of the Commons Strategies Group, headlines a blog entry: "inspiring new film on the agriculture that we need"[56]

See also



  1. ^ "Voices of Transition (2012)". IMDB. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  2. ^ a b Lücke, Reinhard (2012). "Voices of Transition". Film Dienst (in German). dreipunktdrei mediengesellschaft mbh. p. 29. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  3. ^ "Voices of Transition". Filmstarts (in German). Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  4. ^ "Kino-Tour 2013". Voices of Transition (in German).
  5. ^ a b c d Keicher, Fred (14 December 2012). "Der Tübinger Nils Aguilar und sein Film "Voices of Transition"". tagblatt.de (in German). Schwäbisches Tagblatt. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  6. ^ "Martin Crawford". Green Books. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  7. ^ Dupraz, Christian. "Christian Dupraz". Private website of Christian Dupraz (in French). Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  8. ^ Stanley, Bruce (7 April 2009). "Mike Feingold's Permaculture Allotment". Embody. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  9. ^ Sharp, Rob (1 May 2008). "They don't just shop local in Totnes – they have their very own currency". The Independent. Independent Print Limited. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  10. ^ Leendertz, Lia (7 April 2009). "Could Grofun get you gardening?". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  11. ^ Funes, Altieri & Rosset (May 2009). "The Avery Diet: The Hudson Institute's Misinformation Campaign Against Cuban Agriculture" (PDF). globalalternatives.org. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  12. ^ Fairweather & Asquith (February 2010). "How Can Cuba's Sustainable Agriculture Survive the Peace?". Solutions. The Solutions Journal. pp. 56–58. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  13. ^ Hails, Chris, ed. (2006). "Living Planet Report 2006". WWF International, Zoological Society of London and Global Footprint Network. p. 19. Archived from the original on 26 November 2013. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  14. ^ a b Woynowski, Boris; et al. "Im Gespräch mit: Nils Aguilar – Globale Transition-Initiativen" (PDF). Wirtschaft ohne Wachstum?! Notwendigkeit und Ansätze einer Wachstumswende (in German). Arbeitsberichte des Instituts für Forstökonomie. pp. 378–379. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  15. ^ Woynowski, Boris; et al. "Im Gespräch mit: Nils Aguilar – Globale Transition-Initiativen" (PDF). Wirtschaft ohne Wachstum?! Notwendigkeit und Ansätze einer Wachstumswende (in German). Arbeitsberichte des Instituts für Forstökonomie. p. 379. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  16. ^ "About Voices of Transition". Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  17. ^ a b c Woynowski, Boris; et al. "Im Gespräch mit: Nils Aguilar – Globale Transition-Initiativen" (PDF). Wirtschaft ohne Wachstum?! Notwendigkeit und Ansätze einer Wachstumswende (in German). Arbeitsberichte des Instituts für Forstökonomie. p. 383. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  18. ^ "Funders & Partners – Voices of Transition". voicesoftransition.org. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  19. ^ "Voices of Transition". sponsume.com. Archived from the original on 12 March 2011. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  20. ^ "Voices of Transition". startnext.de (in German). Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  21. ^ "Voices of Transition – Distribution". voicesoftransition.org. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  22. ^ "Transition Konferenz Programm" (PDF) (in German). p. 6. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  23. ^ "Community Channel". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  24. ^ "ORF" (PDF). Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  25. ^ "ORF" (PDF). Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  26. ^ [1], retrieved, 06 January 2018.
  27. ^ [2], retrieved, 15 July 2015.
  28. ^ [3], retrieved, 15 July 2015.
  29. ^ "2014 Winners Oregon Film Awards". oregonfilmfestival.com. Oregon International Film Awards. Archived from the original on 7 November 2014. Retrieved 9 November 2014.
  30. ^ [4], retrieved, 17 September 2014.
  31. ^ "2014 film catalogue". southafricanecofilmfestival.com. The South African Eco Film Festival. Archived from the original on 10 March 2015. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  32. ^ "2014 films catalogue". www.lsff.cz/en. Life Sciences Film Festival. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  33. ^ Ecofalante Voces da transiçao, retrieved, 17 September 2014.
  34. ^ Cultures en transition, festival-alimenterre.org, retrieved, 14 December 2013.
  35. ^ DREFF, retrieved, 1 September 2013.
  36. ^ Filmambiente Rio Archived 24 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved, 2 September 2013.
  37. ^ GFFIS Archived 15 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved, 13 April 2013.
  38. ^ FIFE Paris Archived 27 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved, 13 April 2013.
  39. ^ Cinema Verde festival Gainesville, Florida Archived 20 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved, 16 January 2013.
  40. ^ DC environmental film fest Archived 18 September 2014 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved, 16 January 2013.
  41. ^ Greenme Festival Berlin, retrieved, 6 Märch 2014.
  42. ^ Voices of Transition Archived 14 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine, cinemapolitica.org, retrieved, 14 December 2013.
  43. ^ Winners 2012 on ekotopfilm.sk, a festival with 72000 visitors in 2010 (PDF, 5.9 MB), verified on Januar 4th 2013.
  44. ^ Festival Génération Durable Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved, 4 January 2013.
  45. ^ Die Globale 2012 auf attac-netzwerk.de, retrieved, 4 January 2013.
  46. ^ globaLE 2012 auf globale-leipzig.de, retrieved, 4 January 2013.
  47. ^ Cultures en Transition Archived 28 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine auf festivaldufilmvert.ch, retrieved, 4 January 2013.
  48. ^ Cultures en Transition Archived 19 February 2013 at archive.today auf festivalalimenterre.be, retrieved, 4 January 2013.
  49. ^ Voices of Transition auf festivaldeslibertes.be, retrieved, 4 January 2013.
  50. ^ Films documentaires Archived 5 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine auf festival-film-bourges.fr, retrieved, 4 January 2013.
  51. ^ 2017 Film Awards 2017, Festival Univerciné Nantes 2017, retrieved on 6 January 2017.
  52. ^ Winners 2012 on Ekotopfilm.sk (PDF, 5.9 MB), retrieved on 4 January 2013.
  53. ^ 2015 Films Catalogue 2015, Agrofilm Festival Nitra, retrieved on 9 October 2016.
  54. ^ Hopkins, Rob (5 December 2012). "The Top Ten films as chosen by Transition initiatives!". transitionculture.org. Rob Hopkins Personal Blog. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  55. ^ a b c "Voices of Transition – Praise & Festivals". voicesoftransition.org. Archived from the original on 11 March 2014. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  56. ^ name=Bollier.org>"Inspiring New Film, "Voices of Transition," on the Agriculture That We Need". Retrieved 19 October 2016.