Our Children’s Future: A Portrait of Robert Shetterly is a documentary film about this political artist and activist, who has created the portrait series Americans Who Tell the Truth: Models of Courageous Citizenship. One of Shetterly’s greatest contributions is how he models what Americans can do now to effect change. He gives us the confidence to act. People don’t have to stand by while the climate wreaks havoc on our planet. It is something every community can do.
Kane Lewis Productions is creating the film, with sponsorship from the Union of Maine Visual Artists. They are launching a fund-raising campaign, in order to complete and release the film. See trailer and donation page here.
The goal of the film is the goal of Shetterly’s series: to educate and be a call to action. The film will bring new and wider attention to the importance of speaking truth to power, to have the courage to build a society where all people are respected, where hatred is rejected, where embracing our diversity is the source of our strength. In recent days Shetterly's project has taken on a greater urgency: 22-year old Kelsey Juliana, along with twenty youths ages 10-20 are bringing suit against the U.S. Government claiming that its inaction to address climate change has failed to protect the public trust. In the film we see Shetterly and a passionate Juliana addressing the crowd at the Eugene, Oregon, District Courthouse steps: “The government knowingly violated our future generations' fundamental right to inherit a stable and survivable planet.” To hear her words ringing gives us hope. The film will follow the unfolding of events of the trial that has twice been judged to move forward by the U.S. Supreme Court.
So what is it that motivates this activist artist? “It is the courage,“ Shetterly says, “of people to demand their rights that is more essential to democracy than even voting rights. Helen Keller understood that when she said: "… there are no such things as divine, immutable, or inalienable rights. Rights are things we get when we are strong enough to make good our claim on them." And Frederick Douglass when he said: “Find out what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong that will be imposed on them.” This is the principle, the principle of courage, that runs through the struggle against slavery, against racism, for women’s rights, for workers rights, for indigenous rights, against child labor, for gender rights, for environmental rights. It is our common humanity, our common decency that will bring us together to fight for our planet. We see Shetterly painting clergyman and peace activist William Sloane Coffin and hear his voice.