a new documentary film featuring a number of "global warming messengers on a high-stakes quest," will have its world premiere screening on January 19 at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
a new documentary film featuring a number of "global warming messengers on a high-stakes quest," will have its world premiere screening on January 19 at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The film features writer/activist Bill McKibben, author of "The End of Nature;" investigative journalist Ross Gelbspan, author of "The Heat is On" and "Boiling Point;" Heidi Cullen, the climate scientist who has introduced coverage of global warming to The Weather Channel; Climate Science Watch director Rick Piltz; Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, and Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, authors of "The Death of Environmentalism." The film was selected, from more than 800 entries, to be s creened as part of the juried competition for "best U.S. documentary." The Sundance Film Festival, founded by Robert Redford in 1981, is the premier U.S. showcase for new independent dramatic films and documentaries.
A report in Grist on a sneak preview screening: Climate change: Cool enough for Sundance
See video clips
About the film, from the Everything's Cool Web site:
A REAL-LIFE DISASTER MOVIE
After two decades of research, computer modeling and miles of ancient glaciers melting away, most scientists around the world agree that human behavior is causing global warming and it is happening faster than ever anticipated.
Policy makers around the globe are now more than ever looking incredulously at the United States and waiting for some action; if the U.S. as a nation and a government does not aggressively cut greenhouse gas emissions in the next decade, the problem of climate change will eventually dwarf all other economic and social problems. Inaction by the U.S. places everyone else on the planet in jeopardy.
Early 2007, the good news is that many leaders of the industrialized world are finally focusing on strategies for a low-carbon future.
The bad news is that here in America, while Al Gore has certainly put a respectable dent in the impenetrable wall of American denial abo ut climate change, there is still no federal strategy on the issue and the only energy bill on the table lavishes billions of dollars on the very industries that are the source of the pollution and problem.
The people of the United States and millions of not-yet-born future citizens are in very deep trouble. Enter EVERYTHING'S COOL - a "toxic comedy" about global warming coming to America.
MEET THE GLOBAL WARMING MESSENGERS: Linked by a common struggle, a group of self appointed global warming messengers are on a high stakes quest to understand why a crisis they see as urgent and terrifying is greeted by their fellow citizens as distant and irrelevant and by their government with apathy, denial, and perhaps, even criminal neglect.
THEIR MISSION: To find the iconic image, the perfect frame, the electrifying language or the political hot button that will finally move a wary and reluctant citizenry and their elected officials to take me a ningful action on climate change.
THEIR CHALLENGE: To enlighten and educate Americans, thus shifting consumers away from the fuels that have powered the greatest increases in technology, wealth and living standards in history.
THEIR NEMESES: The recalcitrant politicians, the fossil-fuel corporations and the right-wing think tanks that do their bidding, by working tirelessly to obscure the science and gum up the works of government to defeat climate-friendly legislation and promote the unrestrained use of fossil fuels.
THE TIMEFRAME: YESTERDAY!
THE STORY: EVERYTHING'S COOL follows the struggle of these very dedicated, sometimes a bit depressed, but always compassionate and passionate global-warming messengers. Their journey turns into a snapshot of what might very well become known as "those last years of U.S. global warming denial - that halcyon time when America finally 'got it' and then had about three minutes to join the rest of the globe in dealing w ith it."
Along the way, we chronicle the tenacious swan song of the messengers from the other side. These are the fossil fuel-funded skeptics who, like sprinters at the end of a marathon, are pushing even harder to maintain their perverse campaign of injecting doubt and uncertainty into what is clearly a dwindling public debate about global warming. Dwindling, but not dead yet...Thanks to the insatiable appetite of our media to deliver a "balanced" story, these die-hard naysayer-messengers can still be heard, seen, and read on radio, TV, and in newspapers nationwide as they desperately plead their tired argument that nobody's really certain what causes global warming and nobody's really certain what could be the results of a warmer world.
We follow the country and our global warming messengers through an extraordinary three years of transformation, from 2003-to the eve of 2007:
Ross Gelbspan: The "Columbo of Climate Change" has recently come to believe that his decade of writings, interviews, public readings and policy discussions have come to nothing and he is more than ready to retire. Yet, like a "firehouse dog," every time the alarm bell rings he is back on the job.
Heidi Cullen: Heidi is the first on-air climatologist in America exclusively dedicated to covering the global warming beat. As a PhD from Columbia University and an expert in multi-decadal oscillation, can she distill her vast scientific knowledge into 30-second sound bites for The Weather Channel?
Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus: Two thirty-something Berkeley, CA based "eco-messiahs", otherwise known as the "Bad Boys of Environmentalism" rise to the top of the green charts for levying a radical critique of the movement, "The Death of Environmentalism." The self-published essay challenged what has, until now, been the basis of almost all climate change messaging - the "I have a nightmare" speech of polar bears floating away on ice caps.
Rick Pi ltz: His job was to prepare scientific reports to congress on the latest research on climate change. Repressed and depressed by political censorship, Rick Piltz went from downtrodden public servant to front page news when he blew the lid off the White House's scandalous manipulation of global warming science.
Bish Neuhouser: A frustrated snow groomer (who has less and less snow to groom) at the Canyons resort near Park City, determined to convert first his 1970s Mercedes, then all of the Canyons' vehicles, to biodiesel.
While our global warming messengers urgently search for the Holy Grail of climate change communication, they are presented with two opportunities for extreme global warming messaging - the release of the sci-fi feature "THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW" and the 2004 general election. We explore both of these: "The Day After Tomorrow" from behind the scenes, including the prep for the May 31st premiere at New York's Museum of Natural History, replete and resp lend ent in thousands of pounds of fake snow; and the days just before the election from behind the wheel of a fifteen-foot box truck wrapped in high-resolution images of climate change. We call it the Do You Care? Mobile.
All the while, the planet is melting. And in the Arctic, native people are experiencing dramatic and calamitous warming in their communities, not later or tomorrow, but now.
The response in the Canadian Artic: "extreme messaging". We are there, behind the scenes as one thousand Inuit elders and children gather in subzero temperatures on the sea ice in Iqualit - along with Hollywood stars Salma Hayek and Jake Gyllenhaal - into the form of a native drum dancer and the words "ARCTIC WARNING" in English and "LISTEN" in Inuit. The crowds gather, the image is formed and the event is photographed from a helicopter and beamed around the world. Despite a brief piece featuring the aerial artic art on Entertainment Tonight, this amazing moment doesn't "go vira l" an d all of the elders-cum-activists are left wondering if anyone in the "lower 48" was listening.
In Shishmaref, Alaska - they take a vote. Should this entire Inupiat village pick up and move everything (the church, the school, the administration buildings, the two stores, a hundred houses...), leaving behind the ancient fishing grounds and the make-shift million-dollar "sea wall" that is useless for protecting the island? Or should they dig in their heels, stay and build more sea walls, let more houses fall into the sea and hope to survive the big storm? They voted to move. All new homes come equipped with aluminum sleds and they are fundraising. But seriously - "How do you move a village?"
In their own ironic and desperate way these so-sad-they-are-funny-but-true-stories of extreme messaging and adaptation might very well be the thing that finally speaks to the American public.
Our ultimate challenge - and we are up to the task, is to show the audience ho w urge nt this situation really is - and still leave them optimistic and willing to do something. That perhaps is the ultimate challenge to all global warming messengers - which by the end of the film, we as filmmakers are. (Who wants to be a bummer?)