Environmental Filmmakers’ EARTHING Wins Top Doc Award

2019 Dances With Films West Coast Premiere

While filming the Gulf of Mexico oil spill for the petroleum industry exposé The Big Fix (2012), producer and director Rebecca Tickell was exposed to a toxic chemical dispersant, then developed skin rashes and other mysterious ailments. Doctors told her she might have problems conceiving. Although her “miracle baby” Athena was born healthy, she suffered from chronic illnesses and was frequently hospitalized. The search for a cure for mother and daughter led Tickell and husband Josh on a journey chronicled in their enlightening and beautifully crafted documentary The Earthing Movie: The Remarkable Science of Grounding which won the Audience Award for Documentary Feature at the 2019 Dances With Films Festival. 

What the filmmakers discovered is something so simple it’s mind boggling, that modern humans have become literally disconnected from the earth, the ultimate source of healing. They write: “The Earthing Movie reveals the scientific phenomenon of how we can heal our bodies by doing the simplest thing that a person can do… standing barefoot on the earth.”

Yes, even a child taking her first steps can do it, but why does it work? Among the film’s team of experts who explain the science behind this phenomenon, Clint Ober, who patiently fielded questions at the premiere in the TCL Chinese Theatre, wrote the book on the subject, Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever!

After retiring from the cable television industry where he “pioneered cable modem and satellite distribution of digital services via cable to personal computers,” he experienced a health scare that led him to embark on a road trip across the Southwest. Watching passengers getting off a bus one afternoon, he had a “eureka!” moment when he saw they were all wearing nearly identical rubber soled running shoes. From years of installing cable, he made the connection that because of technology and footwear (petroleum based, of course), we were no longer “grounded” to the earth, leading to inflammation in the body and ultimately, disease.

In 1998, he began investigating the effects of electrically grounding the human body to earth. He has promoted and supported 20 research studies that collectively demonstrate how maintaining the body at earth’s electrical potential reduces inflammation and promotes normal functioning of the body’s electrical systems.

Several medical doctors, usually skeptical of anything non-traditional, are interviewed in the film and enthusiastically corroborate Ober’s findings. Dr. Stephen Sinatra (no relation to Frank though he’s a fan) asks: “So, how do we reduce inflammation? Grounding is literally putting your feet on the ground. When you do that you’re in contact with the earth and Mother Earth is endowed with electrons. These electrons are absorbed through your feet. It’s like taking handfuls of antioxidants… This is so incredible, it’s Nobel Prize material! What earthing does, it quenches the fires of inflammation and if inflammation is the source of all root illnesses including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, the list goes on and on. If you can impact inflammation, squelch it, kill it, stop it, we’re going to be healthier beings.”

The Earthing Movie Team, (from left to right) Health Advocate and Athlete, Bobby William, Filmmaker, Rebecca Tickell, Earthing Pioneer, Clint Ober, Actor and Author, Mariel Hemingway and Filmmaker, Josh Tickell

General Practitioner Laura Coniver discovered the benefits of grounding by accident when walking barefoot outdoors. “Grounding means connecting to the earth to support the specific functions of the organs of your body. It supports the body as a whole, but it specifically supports organ systems down to the tissues and the cellular function of the entire body.

With his unique perspective as both a doctor and a spiritual teacher, Deepak Chopra says: “Now we know that when someone walks barefoot on grass, on earth, or on the beach, the free radicals that have built up in your body as a result of stress inflammation are neutralized. What is really happening at a fundamental level is that you are restoring your biological rhythms.”

Celebrity couple Mariel Hemingway and a barefoot Bobby Williams, co-authors of Running with Nature: Stepping Into the Life You Were Meant to Live brought some Malibu glamour to the event. They spoke of the physical and spiritual healing earthing has brought them and the joys of running barefoot through the mountains. In the film, Mariel speaks of how depression affected the lives of her grandfather Ernest, sister Margaux and other family members. She says: “I came from a very dysfunctional home, there was a lot of mental illness. For me, survival, was getting out in nature. I would find myself lying in the grass or a field or a meadow. That would make me feel better. What I was instinctively doing was a very real way to address all kinds of inflammation. Inflammation isn’t just physical. There is neural inflammation. Brain inflammation causes depression … This is a much bigger thing than just walking barefoot on the ground. This is helping me have a more balanced life … There are solutions in nature… Grounding pulls you into who you are.”

Click for screenings and more information

Interviewees include Amy Smart (Stargirl) who also appeared in The Big Fix,  Physicist Gaétan Chevalier, PhD., James L Oschman, PhD. and Melanie Monteith, founder of Adapt Functional Movement Center.

Cinematography by Simon Balderas and Jose Babcock

Editing by Ryan A. Nichols

Composer: Ryan Demaree

I believe The Earthing Movie will impact the lives of anyone lucky enough to see it, mine included. With a family history of depression and chronic asthma in childhood, I’m now on medication for a variety of inflammation related conditions including hypertension and eczema. Since my teens, I haven’t gone barefoot outdoors, but that may be the missing piece of the puzzle leading to better health. It’s worth a try. Viewing the film over the weekend, I also decided to incorporate grounding into standing meditation (Zhan zhuang) and, of course, to walk barefoot on the beach whenever I can.