This year’s BF+DA Positive Impact Award Media winner is Canadian feature documentary RiverBlue, a film focused on an around-the-world journey by river. Featuring internationally acclaimed river advocate Mark Angelo, who has quite possibly paddled more rivers in his lifetime than anyone else on this planet, Mark has sadly watched the decline of the rivers that he loves.
In the documentary, he and the film crew journey through some of the most pristine to the most devastated rivers- the result? The first real in-depth look at the source of much destruction on our global waterways, from textile and tannery manufacturing.
The RiverBlue team says that “the denim industry will serve as the worst-case scenario in the film, revealing the disturbing instances of how we can show such little regard for what nature has given us.
We caught up with RiverBlue film producer Lisa Mazzotta to talk about how the fashion industry is deteriorating our global waterways, from textiles to tannery manufacturing.
Your film has been out for a year now and you’ve had lots of screenings and discussions. What are some of the consistent conversations you’ve had and maybe one that really surprised you?
Many people want to know which brands they can buy that are doing things in a sustainable way. That is the first question that often the audience asks. They are surprised to learn that most major brands are all manufacturing in the same way so it’s a a challenge. We created Fashionheores.eco to help support the smaller brands that are making ethical clothing and share that with the consumer. Something surprising for us has been realizing how interconnected the fashion industry actually is. A lot of major brands speak to each other weekly so they are quite informed on what’s going on.
Have you seen RiverBlue have any impact on fashion brands making changes or policy?
I wish I could say yes to this. I think if there was real change it would be hard to know. A couple of large brands have asked to do private screenings of the film to their sustainability departments, which shows that the issue is a concern for them and the employees want to learn more. Whether or not that will translate to change will take some time to tell. I believe it will. All little steps.
You can’t make a documentary every year to create new discussion, so what are some of the ways you are continuing the conversation?
Fashion Heroes is one way we are continuing the conversation, to learn more about the great work that people are doing and keep abreast of that. People can follow our work there and nominate their own fashion heroes that they know!
Our plan is to do a national college tour, and if we are lucky, even high schools, to bring the message to a broader audience. We have had great support with the sustainable fashion community and we hope that helps to share the message with some people that may not know how severe the problems are with how our clothes are made.
The discussion can be continued as well by people starting to ask the questions to their brands.
We also have a limited theatrical release event on November 19th, where we will screen in over 20 cities around the globe. We have partnered with Fashion Revolution to help make this happen. Some of these events will have a panel with experts to chat about the issues.
Check out this chat with the filmmakers below and RSVP for our Positive Impact Awards here.