It’s the Ecology, Stupid! — a global green cinema event

Shermakaye Bass
15 September 2009

It’s the ecology… That might’ve been the mantra of the early 1990’s (instead of “It’s the economy, stupid!”) if more American public leaders besides Al Gore been heeding environmentalists’ warnings.

But now current films like  The Age of Stupid,  a terrifying backward glance from future decades, are trying to make up for lost time. This new documentary/dramatization, among many other environment films hitting movie houses and TV airwaves, are challenging our collective consciousness regularly – if not haunting it.

The Age of Stupid, starring actor Pete Postlethwaite (”The Usual Suspects,” “In the Name of the Father”) as a future archivist, will premiere next Monday, Sept. 21, in New York City’s Winter Garden, with an introduction by former UN Secretary-General and Nobel Prize recipient Kofi Annan. During the event, which opens with a Green Carpet (made from recycled soda bottles) The Age of Stupid will be simulcast in 450 American theaters, with tape-delay showings in more than 30 countries.

Held under a solar tent and powered by renewable energy sources, it may well be the first global premiere of its kind, featuring live-satellite discussion with scientists on the ground in the Himalayas and Indonesia. It also will be part of the UN’s Climate Week. Tickets and theater sites are available online at  Fathom Events.

Set in 2055, “The Age of Stupid”  depicts Postlethwaite as a global archivist perusing historical footage of environmental news clips and catastrophes – including “interviews” of six eco-survivors from around the world: a Hurricane Katrina survivor and former oil-company worker; an Alpine tour guide who has witnessed the demise of his homeland and livelihood over previous decades; and a young Nigerian med student who simply can’t access clean, running water in his country.

Yes, the film is meant to scare us and motivate us.

If the former Vice President’s 2006 An Inconvenient Truth galvanized the masses, films like The Age of Stupid promise to keep the viewer in arms, as experts warn yet again that Earth’s ecological tipping point looms ever closer. Presented in a hindsight-is-20/20 fashion, it projects the future, as well as the heart-crushing question: Why didn’t humans act when they could to prevent the inevitable?

“Our response to climate change will define our generation, in the same way that ending apartheid, overturning slavery or landing on the moon defined earlier generations,” director Franny Armstrong (”McLibel”, “Drowned Out”) recently said. “At the moment, we are The Age of Stupid, but there is still time to turn things round. … We’re launching this event in the U.S. and globally, with the aim of inspiring 250 million viewers to leap into action before the world leaders decide our collective fate at the crucial UN Climate Summit in December. All of life on Earth is at stake, so may as well aim high.”

Funded in part by MoveOn.Org and Greenpeace, the film moved actress Gillian Anderson and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke enough to participate in Monday’s simulcast/premiere. After the film and panel discussion, Yorke will play an acoustic version of The Age of Stupid soundtrack. The docu-drama debuted earlier this year in London, setting a Guinness World Record for the largest ever simultaneous event premiere, and requiring just one percent of the CO2 typically emitted during a Hollywood premiere.

Tickets are available at participating theater box offices as well as at Fathom Events.

(Photo: Postlewaite and director Franny Armstrong.)