Artist Susanne Fasbender has travelled through the Coal Country Rhineland and created an in-depth comprehensive work of film in three parts. The way her work analytically comprehends the links between resource extraction, land grabbing, economic growth and the climate crisis is impressive.
“Relating and recognising – the Trilogy BRAND manages
the feat of combining a ‘journey into coal mining in Germany’ with a
‘journey of thought to the core of the ecological crisis.’ The film does
not reduce the concrete fates of expulsion, the disappearance of entire
natural landscapes and habitats, on the contrary, it augments them with
a clear-sighted analyses of our economic activity founded on fossil
energies and international climate policy with its unparalleled
commodification of nature.”
Dr. Frauke Tomczak, Scholar of Film, Author
"The Trilogy BRAND is
a valuable, comprehensive contribution to making us think about the
environmental crisis. Studying social and ecological issues in a
fruitful manner, making them truly accessible through a systematically
structured approach, in order to communicate essential knowledge for
increased democratic participation, while not forgetting her roots
within the arts, all this requires time and patience both of which the
director took and used to good effect."
Prof. Dr. Sabine Rollberg (Former Editor-in-Chief of channel ARTE)
BRAND (FIRE) III Resistance within riches
In November 2012, an activist holed up in a complex tunnel system in the
Hambach Forest, ending the silence about the deforestation of this once
gigantic forest area between the cities of Cologne, Düsseldorf and
Aachen. The energy company RWE has been felling this ancient forest
since 1972, but the occupation has spread awareness of the clear-cutting
far beyond the local boundaries.
Today only 10% of this forest remains. Activists from different groups
had taken on the task of making the Rheinische brown coal (lignite) area
to a crystallisation point for the struggle against coal power
generation. Five years later, between summer and autumn 2017, more than
10,000 people took part in protest actions around the mines.
In Brand III, Susanne Fasbender looks back at the first Climate Camps in
the Rheinland, visits citizens taking action against the threat to good
health caused by power generation from lignite, and tells
the story of the forest occupation in the Hambach Forest. In
co-operation with the Hambach Forest Film Collective, she followed some
of the many key events of the resistance, not only to document these
individual transgressions, but also to give them a space where the
underlying concepts are explained and where personal thoughts can be
expressed. Activists speak about tactics and motivation, and about their
experience of living in the forest and at the same time, through their
struggle for a future worth living for, being exposed to anti-ecological
repression mechanisms and an uncertain outcome.
A Journey into coal
mining in Germany and a journey of thought to the core of the ecological
A film trilogy about the fossil fuel economy, brown coal (lignite),
climate policy and the resistance in the Rhineland.
Fasbender in cooperation with the Hambach Forest Film Collective
Each of the three films stands independent of the others.
As a trilogy, they create a new entity; each film awards depth to the others.
BRAND (FIRE) II
Presence of old places and costing nature
The decade-long, domineering seizure of land has deeply marked the
character of the region. Everything appears violated or remains in
tragic expectation. The coming destruction of what lies restfully is
equally omnipresent in the still inhabited villages. The already
uninhabited villages have been abandoned by people, while birds
accompany the wild growth in gardens and parks with their song. The
count-less, ancient high trees that dress the old localities will be
removed first of all when demolition starts.
BRAND ll portrays the destruction of a century-old cultural landscape
for the extraction of lignite in the Rhineland up until 2027. It makes
the scope of this existential interference tangible: forced
displacement and the knowledge that the place you call home is being put
to waste - everything down to language, traditional crafts, and several
hundreds of years old family histories.
The conversation about the societal relationship to nature, the Kyoto Protocol
and the concept of the imperial mode of living will be continued and interwoven
into the pictures of this country.
BRAND (FIRE) l
On Property Rights to Land and Forests
“We are kidding ourselves if we believe we'll be able to find and realise quick solutions, easy solutions that don't hurt anyone, and that all of us can sign without resistance. Because privileges are at stake that we appropriated and got used to over the past 500 years. And we are not just going to want to give these up. That's why, in the old Europe, we are struggling much more with debates on alternatives and with having the courage to think, and to allow ourselves to have these discussions on how we are imagining a good life in the future.”
Quote Jutta Kill In BRAND (FIRE) I. She a biologist and has done research on several climate protection projects.
Susanne Fasbender has travelled through the Coal Country Rhineland and
created an in-depth comprehensive work of film in three parts. BRAND (FIRE) I: Her work analytically comprehends the links between resource extraction,
land grabbing, economic growth and the climate crisis. She skilfully combines her subjective point of view which, in light of being
impressed with impeding climate change, is indeed emotional, with a
scenic language that pervades the film in a fundamentally unagitated
manner. The images are given pace and time,
bringing viewers into reach of the land and villages to be sacrificed to
lignite extraction. Through the participation of numerous people affected or actively
intervening, viewers are brought to feel the magnitude of the situation.
As well as being given the opportunity to dive into local
circumstances, structured, analytical interviews that accompany every
turn of events gain the viewer an understanding of the exemplary nature
of the area, characterised by industrial development and ecological
The film directly invites its audience to partake in a
civil-society discourse that is indispensable for the future of humans
and nature. Fasbender maps out the North-South link in the environmental
crisis in this multi-piece work. Further, she demands a discourse
within society on the commercialisation of nature under the guise of
carbon trading. Of imperative importance, yet barely paid attention to
is that the fact that emissions trading is supposed to align the
fulfilment of ambitious economic goals with a reduction in greenhouse
gas and other gas emissions harmful to the environment and humans.
(S. Rollberg, see above.)
At the latest when we’ve realised that international climate policy, as has been embedded into economics, follows the very same legitimacy of land appropriation and capital valorization, it will become evident that a much more in depth understanding of the relationships is required. The fact that things haven’t improved after 23 climate conferences suggests that the actual issue is barely touched upon by the often lamented ‘They talk loads and do nought’. On the contrary: much more is being done and legally established than we realise from within the general climate debates; the guiding concept ‘Better Growth, Better Climate’ does safe-guard certain interests, and not by accident.
"Have they stopped exploring for oil? No. Have they stopped trying to push for mining in pristine areas? No. Have they stopped exploiting shale oil? No. Have they stopped fracking? No. Why are they doing this? Because they better do it now and quickly, because the game might change in the future. So should we expect anything to happen on the COP in Paris to change the situation? No. Because noone is prepared to take on the fossil fuel economy. That is a restructuring of the society and the economy that is essential to do anything serious about greenhouse gas emissions. So either you deride the problem and you ignore it or you take it seriously."
Quote Prof. Dr. Clive L. Spash in BRAND I. He is the Publisher of the Routledge Handbook of Ecological Economics: Nature and Society,
Editor-in-chief of the journal "Environmental Values". Chair for Public Policy and Governance, Vienna University of Economics and Business.