An Inconvenient Legacy - Filmmakers Take

It was the film that changed everything. In the second part of our series on the 10th Anniversary of An Inconvenient Truth, we asked directors from this year's festival to tell us what Al Gore's film means to them.

2016 Green Film Fest

Jon Bowermaster, Dear President Obama

Has An Inconvenient Truth influenced you or affected the way you think about film?

Two things: Technologically AIT set a standard for all activist-filmmaking storytelling, introducing a unique way to combine hi-tech visuals with a point-by-point takedown of an environmental subject… which could be repeated, almost verbatim, night after night for audiences around the world.

I think we’d all like to come up with a powerful subject matter we could handle with such tech grace.

How do you think environmental films and storytelling has changed in the 10 years since?

I wrote a book that came out in 1990 called Saving the Earth, on the 20th anniversary of Earth Day. It was a look at the fourteen most profound environmental challenges facing the planet then, focused on the causes, effects and solutions to each.

Every Earth Day since, I pull the book off the shelf and think about how we’re doing. Truth? Not very good.

Other than increased public awareness of the problems, we’re not really gaining on many of them — climate change, plastic pollution — in fact most are only getting worse.

For a short while I thought we’d actually made gains on one, the reduction of CFCs in the atmosphere, only to learn that there is so much pirated bad or exempted refrigeration out there in the world that we’ve not getting ahead with that one either.

What do you think is the future of environmental films?

Best thing that’s happened to environmental docs? The Internet.

See the West Coast Premiere of Jon Bowermaster’s Dear President Obama on April 17 at the Roxie Theatre.

 

Mark Decena, Not Without Us

Has An Inconvenient Truth influenced you or affected the way you think about film?

It was a landmark film for many reasons. Not the least of which that you could actually make a film based on a power point. Seriously, it super changed the environmental movement, but also inspired the climate deniers, so there’s still much work that needs to be done.

How do you think environmental films and storytelling has changed in the 10 years since?

Environmental films have exploded in quantity. That’s a good thing for many stories that need uncovering, but I also think there is a growing sophistication of filmmakers who realize telling horrific facts about an environmental tragedy isn’t enough.

Compelling characters, good storylines and yes, good editing are needed to engage audiences who need to see these films.

What do you think is the future of environmental films?

I think the next frontier for environmental films will be virtual reality.

What better way to transport people in time and place. I’m going to take you to the Niger Delta with Nnimmo Bassey. Boom! You’re there. I’m excited to explore VR’s possibilities.

See the World Premiere of Mark Decena’s Not Without Us on Closing Night of the Festival, April 20 at the Castro Theatre.

 

Shalini Kantayya, Catching the Sun

Has An Inconvenient Truth influenced you or affected the way you think about film?

I think the film was a pillar in educating the public about climate change.  However, I think that it created climate change as kind of a nameless, faceless crisis, and that made it challenging to translate the awareness that the film brought about into action.   I think the film left people looking for hope.

The journey to make Catching the Sun began because I was looking for hope. In post-industrial cities like Richmond, California, the dream of upward mobility is eroding. The oil economy has created monopolies and concentrated wealth and power in the hands of the few. I was fascinated by the idea that solar power could democratize and decentralize energy in a way that rebuilds the ladder of economic opportunity for workers and entrepreneurs.

Through an unlikely set of characters, Catching the Sun is about people daring to lead a massive global energy transition that is already rapidly in play.

How do you think environmental films and storytelling has changed in the 10 years since?

Catching the Sun is not a gloom and doom climate change film.   The film focuses on the human stories of real people, workers and entrepreneurs who are remaking our energy system with their own hands.  

The film builds on a transformative idea:  that what’s good for the polar bears can also be good for the middle class.  Solving climate change can unleash innovation and transform an inefficient, polluting energy system into something radically better for our economy.  

Filmed over five years, Catching The Sun will leave audiences encouraged by the hope and possibility of a clean energy future, and inspired to bring that future into being.

See Catching the Sun at the Roxie Theater on Sat, Apr 16 8:30 PM.


Check out the first part of our An Inconvenient Legacy series, with Green Film Fest founder Rachel Caplan's reflections on the film's impact.

Find out more about the 2016 Green Film Fest, which takes place at the Castro Theatre, Roxie, Koret Auditorium at the SF Public Library Main Branch, and several venues in Berkeley.

Photo: Shalini Kantayya; MarK Decena; Jon Bowermaster