turtles06.05.03

The Chances of the World Changing - Hot Docs


"It was the middle of winter in New Jersey, and we had been filming all day. Richard, our subject, was weary, but he still had so much to do. In his care were 1600 turtles and tortoises, most of them endangered, and every one of them needed food and fresh water. " - Eric Daniel Metzgar

What can one person do when not only species but entire families of creatures are at risk of total extinction? In The Chances of the World Changing we see that Richard Ogust chose to turn his Manhattan apartment into a miniature ark, building "assurance colonies", small collections of turtles (many of which are extinct in the wild), which, hopefully, are large enough to maintain the integrity of the breeding populations. But it isn't as easy as all that...

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Richard is kicked out of his New York apartment. He's financially ruined. The turtles cost $100,000 a year to maintain. He's forced to keep his collection in a New Jersey warehouse while waiting to house the animals in a larger institute that he hopes to build. At the same time he's fighting the state environmental protection agency over his methods of housing the animals. Meanwhile, he's living in a tent in a cornfield...

You would think that it's too much weight for one person to bear - and you'd be right. Richard is clearly burnt out. He can't care for 1600 turtles practically alone and he begins to wonder why he continues. Since the wilderness in which the turtles used to live has all but vanished and ever hungry Asian countries (China being the worst offender) are literally eating turtle species and families into extinction isn't it best to just let the turtles quietly disappear into history?

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This film candidly examines a modern problem that grows every day. Human needs, greed, and ignorance are causing the world's "ecological fabric" to come apart. We are the only species that has the ability to care for other species and we can use those feelings to try to halt or slow the mass extinctions and habitat loss currently happening in all parts of the globe.

But, as Richard asks, "What are the chances of the world changing?" The answer is so grim and obvious that it doesn't need to be spoken because it acknowledges a sad truth about humanity; in the next 50 years our selfishness is going to kill off most of the other living inhabitants of Earth. That is, unless people like Richard Ogust increase a thousand-fold.

The Chances of the World Changing has an encore show on Sat. May 6 at 1pm at the Isabel Bader Theatre located at 93 Charles St. West.

[pics taken from the film's website]


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