An interview with Designer, Filmmaker and Activist – Joao Amorim for BEND the System

João Amorim is an Emmy nominated Brazilian Director focusing on the cross roads of the animation and documentary genres. He has worked  for many years as an industrial designer, animator, and animation supervisor for companies like BMW, Panasonic, Oceana  prior to directing his work towards social and environmental causes.

João is one of the founding partners of Postmodern Times, a media company focused on issues that are closest to his heart. He recently finished his first animated feature documentary: “2012 Time for Change”, featuring among others David Lynch, Sting, Ellen Page, Gilberto Gil, and Paul Stamets.

João Currently works for the Botanical Garden of Brasilia, focusing on Permaculture, Agroforestry and Environmental Education. He also runs the Non profit Ciclo Brasil, implementing ecological solutions in the Brazilian Semi-Arid. He has a permaculture sustainability project in Brazil through the NGO “Ciclo Sustainable”. In 2008 his project “Sustainable unit” was a finalist at the Buckminster Fuller Challenge.

B: You have come a long way from designing car commercials for BMW to becoming an advocate of social change. Can you tell us a little about factors that instigated this change ?

J: I was always concerned with social and environmental issues. My father was in political exile during the military government, and always engaged in social issues.

However it took me a while to be able to integrate social issues with my line of work. In 2000 I directed a film on the recycling of Batteries called : “Don’t get Charged up!”. The animated short won many international prizes and screened at the Guggenheim Museum in NYC.

I also worked on Brett Morgen’s Chicago 10, dealing with the antiwar movement in 1968 among many other projects. But it was not till 2012 Time for Change that I was able to fully integrate the ideas of social and environmental change with the aspects of conscious evolution in one coherent piece of work.

B: What are some of the sacrifices you have made along the way?

J: For one thing I had to give up a good comfortable salary, to basically make no money. As Buckminster Fuller used to say, you can either make money or you can make sense. I gave up my apartment in NYC and lived out of an office for over a year. But, other then the material “sacrifice”, I would say everything else has been positive. I have a way more clear consciousness today. I am really trying to Walk the Talk, and move towards Coherence.

B: What is the bigger message that you are trying to spread?

J: That we need to reconnect with Nature, it’s cycles, and learn from it. We need to move beyond the greed and scarcety type of mentality to a more collaborative, Open source type of culture, that respects Biodiversity but that is also tolerant towards different cultures.

B: To mobilize the world is a pretty big order? What’s your strategy?

J: Well I feel my work is just a seed in the Change that is happening. I feel around the world we have people from all ages, and all social classes and from the most diverse cultural backgrounds fighting for a more just and sustainable world. I feel that people in the progressive movement need to learn to look at what we have in common, rather then focusing on our differences. We need to connect the dot’s, and create a global brain, the internet is here to help us. Let’s just do it.

B: Where next from here?

J: I am working with Environmental Education in Brazil. I hope to make a more films, and plant more forests. I have two film is pre-production: ” Gaia and the Last Forest” ( a Brazilian Animated Feature, somewhat Avatar, but with less violence) and the Documentary Zero Point. I am also continuing to plant agroforests and develop permaculture projects in Brazil. But mainly, I will be working on raising my daughter coming in a little more then a month.

B: What words do you have for an urban person wanting to bring about change in his day to day life?

J: Ride a bike when you can, compost your organic waste, practice yoga or something like it, stop eating processed food, cook, plant a tree. Evolve to Solve and check out:

http://www.2012timeforchange.com, http://www.postmoderntimes.com, http://www.ciclo.org

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