Mother: Caring for 7 Billion


Mother, the film, breaks a 40-year taboo by bringing to light an issue that silently fuels our most pressing environmental, humanitarian and social crises – population growth.  It is a critical time to talk about this subject because for the first time, in 2011 the world population reached 7 billion; a startling seven-fold increase since the first billion occurred 200 years ago.

Population was once at the top of the international agenda, dominating the first Earth Day and the subject of best-selling books like “The Population Bomb”. Since the 1960s the world population has nearly doubled, adding more than 3 billion people. At the same time, talking about population has become politically incorrect because of the sensitivity of the issues surrounding the topic– religion, economics, family planning and gender inequality. Yet it is an issue we cannot afford to ignore.

Today nearly 1 billion people still suffer from chronic hunger even though the Green Revolution that has fed billions will soon come to an end due to the diminishing availability of its main ingredients – oil and water. Compounded with our ravenous appetite for natural resources, population growth is putting an unprecedented burden on the life system we all depend on, as we refuse to face the fact that more people equals more problems.

The film illustrates both the over consumption and the inequity side of the population issue by following Beth, a mother and a child-rights activist as she comes to discover, along with the audience, the thorny complexities of the population issue. Beth – who comes from a large American family of 12 and has adopted an African-born daughter – travels to Ethiopia where she meets Zinet, the oldest daughter of a desperately poor family of 12. Zinet has found the courage to break free from thousand-year-old-cultural barriers, and their encounter will change Beth forever.

Grounded in the theories of social scientist Riane Eisler, the film strives not to blame but to educate, to highlight a different path for humanity. Overpopulation is merely a symptom of an even larger problem – a “domination system” that for most of human history has glorified the domination of man over nature, man over child and man over woman. To break this pattern, the film demonstrates that we must change our conquering mindset into a nurturing one. And the first step is to raise the status of women worldwide.

Mother, Caring Our Way Out of the Population Dilemma, features world- renown experts and scientists including biologist Paul Ehrlich, author of “The Population Bomb,” economist Mathis Wackernagel, the creator of the ground-breaking Footprint Network, and Eisler, whose book “The Chalice and the Blade” has been published in 23 countries.

Tell us more about the two women that you feature in the film?

A: Population growth may be a global problem, but it is also a very personal one.  To convey this, we not only brought forward the human side of the issue, but a woman’s perspective.  Beth in the film represents an excellent example of the demographic transition in the US.  She comes from a large family of 12 and now is the mother of 2 biological children and an adopted daughter.  As a child’s rights activist she also embodies the caring approach that we need to take on this issue.

Zinet is the oldest daughter of a family of 12, living in poverty in central Ethiopia who refused to get married at an early age and went to school.  By doing so she is helping to break the cycle of poverty by avoiding early pregnancy.  As is often the case in the poorest countries, large families can’t provide enough food or an education for all their children.  It’s particularly true with girls who often stay home doing chores and don’t get to go to school.  It’s a pattern that is still all too common throughout the developing world. We believed that the journey of our two characters in the film would resonate with all audiences and help them understand the personal side of this critical issue.

Q. Why did you choose to Film in Ethiopia?

A:  We decided to film in Ethiopia because population is a major issue fueling many of their economic and humanitarian problems Ethiopia’s population is projected to triple by 2050, from 91 million to 278 million, making it one of the top 10 most populous countries in the world for the first time. The country realizes there is a problem and they are actively working to help stabilize the population. Beth travels and works on international women’s and children’s rights issues. We invited her to go to Ethiopia to help give the audience her perspective to what she witnesses and learns. She was also very interested in meeting and learning from people that are finding human rights based solutions to the problem.


2/20/2012-Portland, OR Hollywood Theatre Population Connection 7:30 pm Free

2/22/2012-Modesto, CA Sierra Club Yokuts Group 7 pm

2/23/2012-Berkeley, CA Inst. for Population Studies Berkeley Ecology Center 7 pm

2/24/2012-Golden, CO Colorado Enviro Film Fest American Mountaineering Cntr 8 pm

2/27/2012-Stockton, CA Sierra Club Delta Group 7 pm

3/2-4/2012-BC, CANADA Salt Spring Film Festival TBA

3/8/2012-Buenos Aires, Argentina III Ciclo de Cine Ambiental Centro Cultural Recoleta 6:30pm

4/20/2012-Kennebunk, ME First Parish UU Church 6:30pm, dessert film at 7

4/26-5/13/12-Auckland, New Zealand Documentary Edge Film Festival TBA



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