Stern vs Monbiot, plus further Ed-butting‏

Location | Mood | Date 28 May 2009
Author (full name): 
Franny Armstrong
28 May 2009
Evening all, 
Someone pointed out that our Indie Screenings launch on Friday, with a total of 71 simultaneous UK screenings, was actually bigger than the much-hyped People's Premiere in March, which came in at a piddling 62 screens. Just don't tell the Guinness Book of Records, whose certificate finally arrived in the post yesterday (see attached - thanks again to Betty and Doro who paid for us to enter). 
It's well worth reading Leo's step-by-step account of the launch event - loving the captions - but the gist is: 200 people watching at the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) in London, plus loads more watching at 71 venues - everything from houseboats to schools to health centres to fields - then a live debate with George Monbiot and yours truly at the RSA watched via webcast by all 71 venues (minus a few who couldn't get it to work), then Richard Betts from the Met office joining us by skype and confirming that, unfortunately, the film is scientifically accurate and we are all going to burn in hell (except he didn't say the last bit), then a new video from the Vice President of the Maldives updating us on how they're getting on with their mission to go carbon neutral in ten years (answer: a lot of very sensible planning is being done) and finally Lord Stern joining us by skype from the Hay festival to have a chat with George.
Believe it or not, this was the first time that Monbiot and Stern had ever spoken. They skipped the smalltalk and got straight down to the nitty-gritty, as you can hear on the complete video of the event (half way down the page). George was very excited by one particular thing Stern said, which I shall now attempt to recount (but see George's blog in the Guardian today for the accurate version): at the moment, a load of our junk (fridges, TVs etc) gets made in China, but the emissions they cause count as China's rather than ours, which China understandably thinks is unfair, but we (our politicians) think is just dandy. China suggests that the emissions should count as ours (or France's or America's or whoever's), our politicians say "no way hose", but Stern now suggests that perhaps a compromise could be reached. This is very exciting news, I'm sure you all agree. (Here's George explaining it on video - and our hastily-written press release -  if you still haven't grasped the pure thrillingness.)
My favourite line of the evening was a Monbiot classic: "Let's stop calling it climate change, it's far too mild. It's like calling a foreign invasion 'unwanted visitors'". 
So all in all it was another splendid night out in London (though some people pointed out that Bank Holiday Friday was perhaps not the ideal evening for a heavy climate discussion) and round the country - see below for feedback from some of the 71 screenings - rounded off nicely by a Not Stupid activist storming the stage to give George a giant  Not Stupid certificate for "15 years hard labour on the climate frontline". Big thanks to the RSA for hosting us, to Dan for organising the whole thing, for all the volunteers who helped out and to oneclimate for their technological triumph. (Oneclimate are now in Copenhagen at a big business climate meeting and they've just posted some cracking new videos of Al Gore's speech, which was apparently all about future generations looking back at us now... what a good idea for a film...)
Meanwhile, Indie Screenings has been expanding fast, with a total of 202 screenings now booked. All you investors out there will be pleased to know that we've almost paid off the software development and any moment now will start earning cash to repay you. Oh, and Ireland has just been added to the system, if any of our friends across the water would like to watch the movie and make a few quid. 
Back to Friday night: George foolishly agreed to get a lift as far as Oxford as we headed off to the Hay festival straight from the RSA at 11.30pm, after we'd got the Stern/China press release off to the Today programme. No snoozing in the car, though, as we took the opportunity to pick his mega-brains on the minutiae of Not Stupid's new campaign, which you'll all be hearing about very soon (this is the big one, we promise). Dan and I finally made it to Hay at 4am, which gave us 3.5 hours to share the only bed we'd managed to book, before meeting Ed Miliband (the UK's Minister for Energy & Climate Change)  to argue about what we should argue about in Round 3 at 9am. 
It seems the Ed vs Franny fight is going to run and run, so we've started a page on our website to record each of our battles: Not sure exactly what I'd said to cause him such pain in the attached photo, but the complete story of the Hay event is here and there's a podcast here. The funny thing is that I'm just going on about all the usual stuff I've been going on about for years  - like that flying should go back to being a magical experience as it was for our grandparents. But now the context has changed, it's suddenly newsworthy and I'm everything from "this year's eco pin-up" to a "swirly-eyed fanatic". I don't know how famous people cope with the alternating praise and criticism, it's not pleasant even in these tiny doses. Anyhow, the next round of Ed vs Franny looks likely to be at some of the big UK festivals this summer - book your ringside seats now. 
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Indie Screenings launch feedback (please send more)
>> The screening in our front room was a huge success. We managed to cram in 28 people (some sitting on window-sills). The audience was very mixed, mostly neighbours (some of whom we didn't know but invited anyway) and no committed environmentalists. My initial nervousness was blown away by the spontaneous applause at the end of the film. We were so happy with how it went that we're considering holding another for people who couldn't make it. Olly - Oxford
>> Great show in Ullapool last night. 55 people turned up which is not bad for a little village in the north of Scotland. Reduced one of the audience to floods of tears: not exactly the effect I intended but everyone agreed it is a very powerful film. Keep up the good work. - Best wishes, Irene, Ullapool 
>> Advertising our Indie Screening as a fundraiser for the 'Nottingham Thought Criminals', otherwise known as the 114 people who are currently on bail for possibly maybe conspiring to do nothing seemed like a risky tack to take, but in the spirit of all things Stupid we went for it anyway. The screening was a huge success, with the film being projected onto a sheet suspended in a beautiful little warehouse venue, called the Stoke Newington International Airport, full of old sofas and mismatched lamps. We ate handmade popcop hot off the barbecue and engaged in a lengthy discussion once the film was finished, with much of the audience leaving full of inspiration to take further action. We raised 125 pounds for our campaign.  Lily - Stoke Newington, London
>> All went smoothly with viewing, except that the subtitles were too small (on the non-sub-titled version) for one of our viewers to read on the tele. We had a very lively discussion in the living room where one of our viewers was a Bush supporter!  - Cheers and best wishes, Peter A-W
>> The New Economics Foundation designed an amazing Indie screening on a floating cinema, but this proved so popular that a second, simultaneous venue was found at Bash Studio in Hackney. The second screening at Bash Studio completely sold out (70 tickets) and the refreshments were barely enough for the keen crowd. In an intimate setting, the film had its full effect with laughter and tears. Although the weblink didn't quite workout, a Q&A from Nic Seton (Not Stupid) and Kirsty Schneeberger (UKYCC) facilitated a lively discussion about next steps. From the discussion it was clear that people want to see change and to overcome the usual "single action bias" that is directed toward climate issues. The fundraiser was a great success, with all funds going to the Otesha Project UK Wales project. - Nic, Hackney, London

>> So our Screening in the Meadow is over and we're reeling from how successful it all went. Even though all our equipment was stolen the day before, we didn't let it dampen our spirits; so we cobbled together a load of other kit, made a little paradise in the meadow and put on a great show. The film engaged and the webcast went off without a hitch. Nobody could believe it was all happening live, because we were sitting in a field on the outskirts of London and yet we felt connected to it. It's like people have become disillusioned with cinema because of the internet and this just hit the spot in giving everyone something special you only get when you bring people together. We all had great fun coming up with probing questions for the panel, but we argued too much to get anything contructive tweeted. I can't wait for McLibel and other films to go onto Indie Screenings so I can have as much fun showing important films to my friends and neighbours as I did with The Age of Stupid. Tim - Barnet, London
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Things are moving so fast round here that there's no time to write up the latest escapade before the next is upon us. Which is my excuse for not yet filling you in on America. But a couple of people have said that I've ruined everything that the film has so far achieved, because I took a flight to America (to set up the US distribution, which will hopefully lead to tens of millions of Americans seeing the film). We're going to start a page up on the website soon for debates like this. It's all interesting stuff - and funny that we get called eco-fanatics one minute and sell-outs the next. Ah well. 

Ha ha, we just got our worst review of all time - actually, maybe anybody's worst review of all time:
BTW, if anybody wants to write their own review, there's a spot on the website for you:
Here's a brainteaser: should we give [enormous, well-funded multinational organisation] the right to screen the film in their offices in 150+ countries, for free? They claim they can't afford to pay even a discounted license fee, which just seems a bit rich given that they have a turnover of multi millions and we have a turnover of three peanuts (and that we have a responsibility to pay back our crowd-funders). Then again, it seems churlish to stop influential people seeing the film for the sake of a few quid. What to do?
Speaking of cash, if anyone would like to own a piece of the Stupid pie, we have 8.5 shares of 10K left from Round 4 (or is it 5?). We long-since sold all the shares for the 450K production budget, but then decided to sell off some of our own % in order to fund all these distribution escapades. Obviously if you invest now that there's a hit film in the bag, you get a much lower percentage than if you'd invested 4 years ago when there was just a swirly-eyed idea (see the Making Of documentary for entertaining scenes from the first funding event way back in December 2004. Hats off to all the people who gave us their cash on the basis of that useless pitch). Investing details here:
Lizzie and I have been having an exciting day doing the accounts and have just noticed that lots of people have recently set up standing orders - from 2 to 40 quid per month - to support the Not Stupid campaign. Thank you all so, so, so much. The reason we haven't emailed you to say thanks is that we don't have your contact details. Please remedy asap so we can shower you with gratitude. And if anyone else would like to follow suit - regular donations are fantastically useful for us and hopefully not too binding for you if they're just a wee % of your income - here's how:
Speaking of Not Stupid, we have quietly put up the new campaign website, which Leo, Tom, Nick and Torchbox have been slaving on night and day for the last six weeks to finish. We haven't been making a big song and dance about it yet, as there are certain sections still coming together. But please do check it out if you've got a moment, especially the Copenhagen Sprint, which is a beginners guide to the negotiations (the terrifying thing -  given that it's the most important meeting in human history n all - is that nobody has already done this. We were hoping to pinch their research, but couldn't find it - at least in any form comprehensible to ordinary mortals). 

And in related news...
-  As of this morning, Shell are in court in New York for complicity in the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa. As you no doubt remember, Saro-Wiwa was the environmental activist and Ogoni leader who led a campaign against the environmental devastation wreaked upon the Niger Delta (as featured in Layefa's story in Age of Stupid) in the '90s, as a result of which he was hanged, along with eight of his colleagues, in 1995. For more info, including how you can get involved in various actions this week, see: and It's generating tonnes of news coverage already. 
- Our super-cool UK distributors, Dogwoof, are launching their new film about over-fishing, The End of the Line. Apparently there's going to be no fish by 2048, which is not just a wee problem for hungry humans but, obviously, for all the ocean's ecosystems (even before we get into climate change heating the water, killing the coral...). There's a special preview screening on Monday June 8th (World Oceans Day) in 46 cinemas across the UK, many with their own speakers. See
- Another supposedly-cracking new film - not that I've seen it myself - is Pig Business, which is screening tonight at the Barbican and on Saturday at the Hay festival. 
- There's a whole radio show all about climate change, which is archived neatly online:

Art, Activism & The Global Climate Emergency: "A series of artistic responses and activist interventions around the theme of climate change in central London, 16-21 June: Part of Respond! - - a month of environmental engagement through art, UK-wide in June"
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Mark Lynas and I will be arguing about whether there's any hope left (him - no, me - yes) at the Hay festival tomorrow night -  should be a barrel of laughs - and then I'm in  Amsterdam next Friday, 5th June, where there's two Stupid screenings at the Strawberry Earth festival, plus some rallying of Dutch NGOs to be done. Please pass the info on to your Dutch friends. 
Onwards and upwards, 
PS. While I've been writing this we've had four more Indie Screenings bookings, so make that a total of 206 ;-)