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Shot over three years in the US, India and Mexico, the film tells the epic story of maverick American architect Michael Reynolds and his fight to introduce fully self-sustainable housing. He offers practical solutions on a local and individual scale with his crew of renegade house builders from New Mexico, and their fight to introduce radically different ways of living.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Michael Reynolds says "I'm just trying to save my ass" while the world stampedes like a herd of buffalo towards a precipice; Michael Reynolds wants to try and influence the herd and make it turn away. He has been at it for 35 years out in the New Mexico desert. He builds houses out of beer cans, for example, and plastic bottles. And out of other surplus materials like rubber tyres. He creates garden zones to grow life sustaining fruit and vegetables, as well as providing a habitat for birds etc.

And the biggest payoff for him was the feeling of absolute freedom, driven by self-dependence. He needed nothing he didn't have for survival - and a damn easy lifestyle. And he has gathered around him a bunch of younger guys who became his building team and surrogate sons, in a way.

His ideas attracted others and it became a commercially viable operation to help people build their own self sustaining homes in the area. These were all to some degree experimental houses and they had problems and there were legal fights, not to mention him losing his architect's licence - but the thrust of his enthusiasm seems to have sustained him. Reynolds, with wild white hair and two week stubble, is energetic and obsessive, but that's what makes him a good story.

In the process, the film gives us an insider's tour of the New Mexico legislature and its myriad traps and pitfalls for the uninitiated - such as Reynolds. It's fascinating and not a little daunting to see the political process at the local level so hidebound and unresponsive.

But then, we are whisked to the Andaman Islands in the wake of the April 2005 Tsunami, where Reynolds' team offers a hands on example of self sustainability in the absence of regular services. And it's that absence that Reynolds says is looming for us all.

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(UK, 2007)

CAST: Documentary featuring Michael Reynolds

PRODUCER: Rachel Wexler

DIRECTOR: Oliver Hodge

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Oliver Hodge, Ken Morse, Ben Cole

EDITOR: Phil Reynolds

MUSIC: Patrick Wilson

RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Melbourne: August 14; Sydney: September 18, 2008.

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