Can an ambitious Israeli-American guy living in Jerusalem bring solar generated electricity to millions in neighboring Africa?
“Green Rebel – the Adventures of Kaptain Sunshine”, our feature documentary, will follow the visionary struggles of Yossi Abramowitz, AKA “Kaptain Sunshine,” to provide real, on the ground solutions to both global climate change, and to inequality in Africa. In the Jewish tradition, it’s called tikkun olam (“healing the world”).
Yossi and his family immigrated to Israel from Boston in 2006, and soon after, Arava Power, his first Israeli solar energy company, inked the first deal to sell solar-generated electricity to Israel’s electric grid. His vision? For Israel to be a “sustainable Light unto the Nations.” Kaptain Sunshine had arrived.
A few years later, his company finished the first commercial scale solar field in sub-Saharan Africa (in Rwanda) – it now supplies 6% of the nation’s energy needs. Touchingly, it is situated in Agahozo Youth Village (which benefits from the sale of electricity), where several hundred orphans of Rwanda’s own genocidal war have studied and lived (see the rough cut of our Rwanda “chapter” at bottom of this page – we were thrilled to travel there to shoot just a few months ago, in February, 2020).
We have been filming Abramowitz’s adventures for about two years now, and have exclusive filming access to all of his future activities. We are now entering a critical phase in documenting his story: Abramowitz’s Jerusalem company is negotiating with 10 additional African countries for solar fields (everywhere from Burundi to Ethiopia to northern Nigeria). But can obstacles of government corruption, violence, terrorism, and entrenched energy interests be overcome – to help bring green electricity to more of Africa’s 600 million people without electricity, and to replace the highly polluting gas and coal electric plants planned by the greedy multinational petro interests? How does he continue to build cultural and personal bridges to help seal deals?
Right now, “energy poverty” in many African countries means most schools and health clinics have no electricity. Most homes don’t either – so all cooking and lighting comes from burning wood or charcoal in the home. Such “indoor air pollution” in Burundi causes more than 10,000 deaths (mostly children) every year. And there may be no trees left in Burundi by 2040, because of the huge numbers of trees cut down yearly. Abramowitz’s work, and our movie, can be a powerful model for a major way to fight climate change globally.
About half of our story is shot in Africa – showing Abramowitz in action, courting allies there by appealing to common spiritual/religious values. We will also feature local supporting characters, such as a mother struggling, like mothers everywhere, to feed her children and keep them happy and healthy in such primitive conditions – how might her life be affected by a simple thing like the arrival of electricity?
Golda Meir visited five African countries, in 1958, and she later wrote: “Independence had come to us, as it was coming to Africa, not served up on a silver platter, but after years of struggle.” And Abramowitz regularly quotes Ben Gurion, “The largest source of energy in our world, a source so unused by man – is the sun.” He sees himself on their path, a progressive win-win Zionism.
At home in Israel, Yossi and his wife’s children include two adopted Ethiopian sons. An additional supporting character will be Yossi’s wife, Rabbi Susan Silverman – “Green Rebel” director Stein documented her well-known struggle for women to be able to pray at the Western Wall).
Africa boasts 11 out of the 20 fastest-growing economies on the planet, has 700 million cell phones, and its billion-plus population will double by 2050. Can Abramowitz be that on target “impact businessman” whose business chutzpah helps make a better world? Can he successfully work with the power brokers of his world – from Trump and Netanyahu to assorted African ex-dictators – without losing his soul?
Our need now
We believe that even in this time of the Corona virus, we need to continue to work together to try to make the world a better place. Your contributions will make possible our final shooting trip to Africa, then to return and finish editing our movie.
Our ultimate goal – an impact film
We plan to finish shooting and editing our film by December, 2021. We will not only show it in theaters worldwide and on streaming services, but also bring it directly to hundreds of schools and universities, houses of worship, non-profits, corporations, conferences, and elsewhere. These “impact screenings” – most followed with discussions – are designed to educate and inspire about Jewish social change and fighting the climate crisis. This movie invites maximum participation – you are welcome to contact us with any questions, or if you are interested in hosting a future impact screening event, email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
And here is a rough cut of our Rwanda “chapter”, finished recently:
And please read director Harvey Stein’s recent Times of Israel blog post here:
After the Pandemic, Will We Choose Tikkun Olam?
It takes a village to make an indie film! It takes a global village to turn the course on climate change. Thanks for adding your energy to our pot!
“Green Rebel” co-sponsored by Shufu Shufu and Melitz