Movies That Matter: Decoding the Weather Machine
06/07/2018 - Impact Hub

Movies That Matter at Impact Hub Boston

From the opening of the first ever movie theatre in the early 20th century, to a world filled with pop-up cinemas and screenings in every other town across the globe, movies have long had the potential to inspire and connect us. Now, as the power of cinema continues to join forces with social entrepreneurship in the form of Movies That Matter, any community can be enabled to create change too.

Impact Hub Boston hosts an ongoing series called Movies That Matter featuring films, documentaries, and shorts on important social and environmental issues.  Presented in collaboration with local organizations and businesses working on mission-driven social causes, these screenings are an important way to connect the larger Boston community with the mission-driven initiatives at Impact Hub and in the local areas.

NOVA Decodes the Weather Machine

A well attended and well received screening was that of NOVA’s “Decoding the Weather Machine” produced by NOVA – a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) educational series on science and engineering.  Impact Hub Boston collaborated with Earthwatch and the local public television channel WGBH to premiere Part 2 of the 3-part series for Movies That Matter.

According to Katie Schultz, Impact Hub Boston’s Director, the screening of Decoding the Weather Machine was “a fit programmatically with a regular series that we support (in Movies that Matter) and a fit topically with the types of issues that we build events around.”

Reflecting on the partnerships that brought together this event, Alix Morris at Earthwatch commented, “Communicating about climate science is a huge part of our mission, and it seemed a natural fit to partner with NOVA to spread the word about their film. Impact Hub Boston was extremely receptive to the idea of the event and partnership.” The screening was also listed among the events of Cambridge Science Festival, which is celebrated annually to showcase the latest developments in the science, technology, engineering, art, and math fields.  

The Screening

NOVA produced the documentary in an apolitical and informative manner, and as co-producer of the movie Caitlin Saks explains, climate science “is one of the most important scientific issues of our time. We wanted to create the movie to educate and inform the public about the scientific research underpinning our understanding of climate change.  One of the aspects that I don’t think that is widely appreciated at this time in climate science is that it is this global investigation.”

About the title, Caitlin continues, “Climate is an average of weather… And that means, with the change in climate we are experiencing more extreme weather. Because that’s the way that those who are not yet engaged in the climate conversation actually experience climate, that was our method. The climate machine, the weather machine, they are all the same thing. One affects the other.”

Building on years of research and collaboration with people in the field, Decoding the Weather Machine is a valuable resource for all of us – regardless of our stance – to understand climate change, its impact, and what we can do about it.

The movie featured Marshall Islands where the residents are severely impacted, but do not yet have the tools to deal with the effects. Also featured are residents of Norfolk, Virginia, in the US who have adjusted to the changes by raising their houses on stilts or by placing ‘snorkels’ on their four-wheel vehicles.

The Panel Session

As Impact Hub Boston’s Katie noted, the Movies That Matter screenings are often paired with a discussion or panel – usually including the film’s director. After screening Decoding the Weather Machine, an insightful discussion ensued with an all-female panel who fight for climate justice and citizen action, including:

Below is a compilation of notable takeaways from the panel session based on the full recording of the panel session, made available by Earthwatch.

Panel Session

Speaking about the making of the documentary, Caitlin expounded on the choice of the title and the need for climate education, while Zoe emphasized the importance of citizen action and the impact of individuals’ daily activities that can have profound effects collectively.

Nicole called for “Citizenry in Action” and the need to voice our individual concerns collectively, whereas Andrea emphasized the importance of working at the local level and integrating vulnerable communities into the decisions surrounding climate change.  Andrea also made the argument that the local people are the ones who know the areas of flooding, and the ways in which climate change affects their everyday lives.

Screening the Movie @ Your Local Communities

NOVA plans to continue to document climate change to inform and engage the audience through live and online discussion sessions, short-form media, social media, additional reporting, and lesson plans.

A great way to engage your community in this important discussion about climate change and its local impact is through the screening of the documentary. WGBH is willing to send free guides and DVD copies internationally.  To obtain a copy and host your own event, please sign up at Free copy of Decoding the Weather Machine.

Classroom Materials for Climate Change Discussions

NOVA also provided materials for classroom use in educating our young students about climate change and its global, societal, and personal impacts. For these informational videos, please visit Decoding the Weather Machine program page.

PBS also has made available Earth & Science subscriptions for use in classrooms. To obtain additional information about their education and outreach initiatives, please contact NOVA directly.

Movies That Matter – An Agency for Change Makers

We hope that through informative and science based events such as Movies That Matter, communities worldwide will become active participants in climate action discussions and other important topics to the local communities.

From the early 1900s right up until today, movies continue to be great tools with which to capture people’s conscious attention, and engage local actors to take preventative actions. Films  are also instrumental in molding a young generation that is community-action oriented, and in preparing students to make social entrepreneurial efforts of their own.

The first step is sitting down to watch one.


Written by: Babita Kuruvilla

Babita is a contributor to Impact Hub Boston’s blogs, writing about events related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and profiling organizations at  Impact Hub Boston that address this. This series contributes to the following SDGs: