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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Island Earth // Support the New Film by Cyrus Sutton

Photos: Cyrus Sutton

My friendship with the incredibly inspiring Cyrus Sutton started just around a year ago, with a cup of coffee and a serendipitous displacement of two nomads in LA. I was visiting my brother after an extended stay in Australia and Cyrus was on the road in his van, journeying up the coast before hopping on a plane to Japan. It was only our second time meeting, but I had questions that needed answering and my instant sense of familiarity with Cy gave me confidence to go deep quick. He didn't mind one bit. We both spoke candidly about our struggles with a dual life -- leading an online pursuit while passionately engaging a reconnect with nature through surfing and camping. How do you manage it? was my consistent quest for clarity. Perspective, was Cyrus' overall answer. Always take time for yourself in nature, don't be scared to "check out" for a bit, and most of all, remember what's truly important. 

"Whatever scares you," he said, "do that."

A couple weeks later he encouraged me to come to Quail Springs in the desert outside Ojai, California, to a Permaculture Design Course that would change my life forever. The principles of self sufficiency, agricultural empowerment, and synchronicity of human systems with those already existing in nature made so much sense to me. One system stood out to me in particular -- the Ohana system -- an ancient Hawaiian method of agriculture (literally meaning "family") which worked with the sloping landscape and left certain areas as sacred, alone to flourish without the tampering of human hands.

When Cyrus told me he was going to Hawaii to make a film about the return to local food systems and the battle against Monsanto, I knew this would be an incredibly important film in revealing the truth about the treatment of our food. As Hawaii is a hotbed of GMO experimentation, the islands are ground zero for discussions on the safety, efficacy and sustainability of chemical use in industrial agriculture. Through interviews with prominent politicians, doctors, organic farmers, scientists, activists and local residents, Island Earth exposes the real risks of relying on a food production system where six chemical companies are in control of the world's most basic necessity.

While Island Earth explores the difficult and much-debated issues of genetic modification and experimentation on food, the film also proposes solutions through characters who are dedicated to growing and eating locally in a state that imports more than 85 percent of its food.

The money raised on Kickstarter will support the completion of the film so that it may serve as a resource for those individuals working to change the ways in which we grow and consume food. Please check out the trailer and do whatever you can to help this film thrive.

When were you first inspired to make Island Earth? At what point did you know this was a story that needed to be told?

I've been looking for a setting to show the back to land movement that's been going on all over the world right now. With the GMO debate going on and Hawaii's amazing growing climate, I knew it was holding a great story. Other than that idea, Hawaii just really pulled me in. It sounds triply to say but I feel I was called here to make this film for reasons I don't know yet. Some pretty strange and positive stuff had happened since starting the project lets just say that.

How long did you spend in Hawaii making the film? Tell us a little but about the people you encountered and the stories that stuck with you when researching GMO testing in paradise.

I was for here 3 months before heading home to Californian summer to edit. Now I'm back traveling across the islands to gather more footage. The reason I'm talking about GMOs in the film is because it's the only issue around food which has people from all walks of life sharing their problems with and solutions to the ways we grow our food. I've been fortunate enough to talk with many scientists, public health officials, farmers and local people about the future of agriculture  on Hawaii and the rest of the world.

What is the current status of the Monsanto vs. Hawaii Agriculture debate? What are some of the obstacles faced by the local governments when standing up to this mega chemical corporation?

It's complicated, this film is going to expose a lot of stuff that isn't widely known about the issue. When people are informed they become powerful.  When we know what's really going on then Monsanto and the other chemical co.'s will simply be a catalyst for change. A shift in consciousness, a shift from uneducated consumers to educated producers and discerning consumers, is what this film will help create.

Many might say it is pointless for us to attempt to take on such a powerful corporate force who will only continue to find loopholes in the system and engage in corrupt business ventures and marketing until their agenda is met. After making this film, do you feel slightly hopeless in the system or inspired and faithful in the work being done by Hawaii's local advocates for clean food?

Complaining about problems always eventually leads to hopelessness or disillusionment of some sort, actively working towards the solution you want to see is an initially harder but much more effective and rewarding endeavor.

What is your biggest take aways from making this film?

The future is happening now and we can all be apart of it. There's nothing to fear but apathy. Overpopulation with people working against nature is a problem, a growing population of humans working within nature's laws will only help our situation.

What is your goal with the film and how can we help?

We aim to make a film that can help others working to change the ways we grow and consume food. You can help by learning more about this issue via the Kickstarter link. Please consider donating and sharing this with friends who are passionate about where their food comes from and how to change the problems we face.


Follow Cyrus' journey on Instagram

his blog at

and his platform for progressive films and DIYs on

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