Because we didn’t listen the first time around, we’re getting a sequel to An Inconvenient Truth.
Al Gore is tired, you guys. He’s been talking – and warning us – about climate change for about forty years now. He was talking about it when he worked in the government but nobody was paying enough attention. Instead of quitting, he whipped up a slideshow, grabbed his trusty laser pointer, and traveled the country, preaching the word of climate change. Did he stop there? Heck no. That slideshow turned into An Inconvenient Truth, an Academy Award winning documentary and a Grammy winning book. And then there’s his Nobel Peace Prize and countless other accolades – even multiple TEDTalks! (So you know he’s legit.)
Now, Gore isn’t tired because of all of this hard work. He’s tired because despite all of it there are still people (and President-Elects) who believe that climate change is a hoax and there are still governments and companies who don’t care either way because they profit more from destroying the planet.
From “the climate is supposed to change” to “the Chinese government invented it,” Gore has heard it all and does not care for it one bit—not one bit. So he’s doing what he does best: giving us a sequel to An Inconvenient Truth. In a just world, the sequel to the 2006 documentary would be called We Did It: The Polar Ice Caps Are No Longer Melting! but instead it’s more likely going to be called We’re Screwed: So Screwed.
It was announced on Friday that the follow-up documentary will premiere at Opening Night of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Paramount Pictures has plans to release it later in 2017 and we can only hope that they will, Harry Potter style, force hundreds of copies down the White House chimney.
The original, directed by Davis Guggenheim (Waiting for Superman, He Named Me Malala), was a film version of Gore’s slideshow. Producer Laurie David saw a portion of it and was so impressed that she approached him about turning it into a documentary. (It’s also important to note that it was the same day she saw The Day After Tomorrow so it’s safe to assume Dennis Quaid might’ve also inspired her, as he does us all.)
The follow-up is directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk (Audrie & Daisy) and will go beyond the original slideshow and gives us more even insight on Gore’s decades-long battle to save the planet.
It won’t be all doom and gloom, though. Executive Producer Jeff Skoll stated:
“A decade after we took a risk in backing a film centered around a slide show presentation and one human’s quest to awaken global consciousness about our changing planet, we are proud to bring global audiences a promising update: that a future powered by clean, safe, renewable, inexpensive, non-polluting energy is no longer a dream but a very attainable reality.”
That’s perhaps the most infuriating part of the climate crisis battle: change is possible. We just have to, you know, actually do something about it.
“Do something” can range from being mindful of your own carbon footprint to the government introducing laws that put climate first. It’s also using your voice to amplify issues and educate, which Sundance is doing this year. Gore’s documentary is part of a larger speciality program called The New Climate. This is the first time the Festival has focused on a single issue for programming direction and it’s meaningful that they chose climate change and environmental preservation.
Like Gore, Robert Redford, President and Founder of the Sundance Institute, is deeply involved with climate change issues:
“My own engagement on climate change began more than 40 years ago, and the urgency I felt then has only grown stronger given its very real and increasingly severe consequences. If we’re going to avoid the worst-case scenario, then we must act boldly and immediately, even in the face of indifference, apathy and opposition.”
Already announced as part of The New Climate are Chasing Coral, a documentary about the declining coral reefs from director Jeff Orlowski (Chasing Ice 2012); Trophy, directed by Shaul Schwarz (Narco Cultura, 2013) which will focus on confusing–and, frankly, disgusting–hobby of big-game hunting (RIP Cecil); Water & Power: A California Heist, where director Marina Zenovich (Roman Polanski: Wanted And Desired, 2008) investigates water barons, which are a real thing apparently; and Plastic China, a documentary by Jiu-liang Wang about workers at a recycling facility in Beijing and the impacts of global consumption as seen through their eyes.
Along with documentaries, The New Climate will also feature VR experiences as part of New Frontier. If Chasing Coral the documentary isn’t enough, you can also experience it in VR. There is also Melting Ice, focusing on disappearing glaciers, and Tree, which transforms users into a rainforest tree.
Gore might’ve invented the internet but he wasn’t the first person to make an environmental documentary. As long as there have been people and governments pushing against the well-being of the planet, there have been activists and filmmakers pushing right back. Along with An Inconvenient Truth (which you should watch because it is very good), check out these five documentaries:
Gasland (2010) follows director Josh Fox on a personal investigation into the world of natural gas drilling, commonly known as “fracking.” Told in first-person, watching it is deeply affective and emotional, like you’re right there with Fox. (And don’t forget to watch Gasland Part II because of course fracking is still happening.)
Jeff Orlowski’s aforementioned Chasing Ice (2012) is a painfully beautiful documentary. You’re swept away with stunning cinematography of glaciers and then brought swiftly back down to earth with the reminder that they’re all melting away. The documentary follows photographer James Balog, who has been documenting the crisis with his Extreme Ice Survey.
Not content with simply wrecking the land and water, humans are also having an impact on animal life too. The Cove (2009), directed by Louie Psihoyos, is an Academy Award winning documentary that takes an incredibly intense look at dolphin hunting. (For a super fun date night double feature, also watch Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s Blackfish!)
After producing The Cove, Fisher Stevens (yes, that Fisher Stevens) went on to co-direct Mission Blue (2014), a documentary about maybe the most kickass woman in the entire world, Dr Sylvia Earle. She’s a marine biologist, oceanographer, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, was the first female chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and was Time Magazine’s first Hero for the Planet in 1998. Also she’s trying to save the oceans.
Most recently, Leonardo DiCaprio took a break from the Pussy Posse and tossed his hat into the environmental documentaries ring with Before the Flood (2016). Also directed by Fisher Stevens, it follows DiCaprio as he endeavours to learn as much as he can after he is appointed a United Nations representative on climate change. National Geographic made it available to watch for free online in November and it racked up 60 million views.
With record numbers like that, and incredible films like the ones above, it seems shocking that we’re still barreling full-speed into the darkest timeline. Yet, here we are. How many more documentaries and TEDTalks does Al Gore have to make before we finally listen?