Stupid or Not?

I had the rare honour yesterday of attending a preview screening to an upcoming film, in which the director was also present. The film in question was The Age of Stupid, a docudrama about climate change. The films approach is quite unconventional, as it partly set in the speculative (based on current scientific theory) dystopian future of 2055, where the earth has suffered run away climate change, and partly in the present era. This is all weaved together by Pete Postlethwaite (Brassed Off, Romeo and Juliet, The Usual Suspects) who plays ‘the archivist’, a man who trawls through news, and film footage of the past to try and demonstrate how we knowingly destroyed ourselves and our planet.

The present day footage all centres upon current disasters, changes in the planet’s usual patterns and some of the human rights injustices committed in the name of the oil industry. There are six people all interlinked by the archivist, and each tells their own story in different episodic chapters. For instance one film follows a young girl in Nigeria, which is one of the most oil rich nations in Africa. She dreams of being a doctor to help people who have suffered from pollution from nearby oil drilling, and those who suffer the effects of extreme poverty. It was quite shocking to see how an area so rich in natural resources has been plundered and exploited, when really the local community should be vastly rich.

Another story focuses on a man from Cornwall who works in the business of wind farm construction, and how his plans to build a new wind farm in Bedford, which could power tens of thousands of homes is thwarted by middle England activists. The activists in questions are all very well spoken, well to do types, who are trying to prevent the construction of what they see as an eyesore.

Throughout this the archavist muses upon how we saw it all coming and how could we not have done something to stop what we knew would happen.

I have to admit this film is a gripping and thought provoking flick, which considering its tiny budget has been very well put together. I even found myself thinking about how I could reduce my carbon emissions during the screening, and I am not what you would consider as a wasteful person. But however, the point is that we really need to sit up and do something. It’s not beyond us, and we shouldn’t continue to bury our heads in the sand about the matter.

After the screening was a Q&A session with Frannie Armstrong (McLibel 2005), the director and Jane Davidson a Welsh Assembly minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing. This was like an awkward version of question time, and I have to say some very intellectual questions were asked, as well as something’s that were meant to be questions but turned out as elongated statements. The presence of some very impassioned audience members also made the situation quite suspenseful however anarchy didn’t erupt thankfully. I was not very impressed with Davidson who answered her questions in a fairly obtuse “look how much me and my department are doing” kind of way which didn’t necessarily address the question asked. But then again should we expect much else from a politician.

I’d like to end by appealing for you to sign up for the Not Stupid action campaign, which is associated with this film. It is basically a pressure campaign for the Copenhagen climate summit. The summit which will see the signing of a new agreement for countries to cut down on carbon emissions (a bit like the Kyoto agreement). It can’t hurt to see what’s going on after all. I know the portrayal in the film is the worst case scenario, although it’s a scenario I’d rather not experience all the same. Besides sustainable energy sources are long overdue, and we should wean ourselves off fossil fuels, which are dirty and outdated. Also try and see the film if you can. It's really interesting and well worth a look.

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