Director Statement

Many films are made about renewable energy. The film brings hope about what is being done and what 1.5 billion off-grid people of the world can do to enter the 21st century. While the rest of the world is addicted to oil or coal, this community has invested in a new infrastructure. They want to develop and maintain their precious environment.

To move beyond the grid is become independent of the current electric grid infrastructure, which typically contributes to climate change by burning fossil fuels. The name of the new paradigm is innovation with new infrastructure, investment into sustainable resources, tapping the Earth’s emission-free energy resources, and including into every choice we make consideration that we are borrowing this Earth from our children.

Production Notes

The Sundarbans region, wedged between Bangladesh and India, is the world’s largest urban wetland with four million residents inhabiting 52 of its 102 islands. Two islands have disappeared from rising waters due to climate change. It’s been inhabited for the last several hundred years by farmers, fishermen.

A part of the State of West Bengal, the 24-Paraganas island region contains panchayats, or villages which has an elected chief. All village-chiefs gather once a month on Gosaba Island to discuss and vote on issues, including policies and rules on adopting renewable energy, i.e., hybrid electricity facilities for bio-gas, solar, wind, and tidal energy.

“Living and
Shooting Off-Grid”
Shooting in the Sundarbans, India, was not easy. The 102F temperature and 99% humidity bear down on the skin with a ton of weight. During rainy season, I slipped on the wet clay shore and fell onto the video camera while trying to board the boat. The filming process produced zero carbon emissions because equipment battery charging and transporting video files onto hard drives was powered by a local mini-grid power facility.

Filmed for under $8,000 over a course of three years and four trips to the location. Partial funding was from a PSC-CUNY Research Grant, a Leonard & Tow Travel Grant, personal funds and support from co-producer colleagues Micha Tomkiewicz and Ryoya Terao.