Nature calls the shots – with Robyn Francis

Nature Calls the Shots offers a glimpse into the life and work of pioneer permaculture designer and educator Robyn Francis, and the story of Djanbung Gardens in Nimbin, northern New South Wales, Australia. The 37-minute observational documentary film was produced and directed by Juan Francisco Salazar.

The new documentary premiered Nov 3, 2021 during the international conference #Liviana2021, Community Economies Research Network (CERN).

Documenting a unique microcosm of an exceptional permaculture community on Australia’s north- east coast, Nature Calls the Shots presents Robyn Francis’ herstory as an activist for environmental regeneration and novel community economies, who transformed a small piece of land from a degraded cow pasture in the 1990’s into a permaculture paradise.

This local yet universal story of hope shows that positive change is possible where regenerative and holistic farming and landuse practices and bioregional design can lead to planetary health, just livelihoods and empowered local rural communities.

Beautifully shot, the film perfectly captures the ambience and pace of life in Robyn Francis’ garden, her strong connection to all the life forms there and rich connections with community. The film makes evocative use of Juan Salazar’s intimate nature photography, enhanced by the music he selected for the film from Robyn Francis’ music compositions and recordings.

The film was produced following best practices in sustainable filmmaking and green screens protocols. The film’s director Juan Francisco Salazar spent two weeks sleeping in a small tent during the rainy season, while undertaking the Permaculture Design Course (PDC) at Djanbung Gardens, Permaculture College Australia, in March 2021.

The film was co-produced by the team behind the film The Bamboo Bridge (2019) as collaboration with economic geographer Katherine Gibson and artist and editor Rowena Crowe who edited the film in Wollongong, south of Sydney, during a four-month Covid-19 lockdown in 2021. The film was partially funded by the production team with support from the SISTER-Hub initiative at the Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University.

The film team have generously gifted the film to Robyn Francis and Permaculture College Australia to distribute widely and freely. They believe this is an inspiring story that needs to be told. The makers decided on the half-hour duration to encourage fellow educators make use of it in their classes as it raises numerous issues, offers solutions and stimulates thoughtful group discussion.

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