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EDITORIAL – 3/10/2013: SAVING THE PLANET – ONE FILM AT A TIME

By Andrew L. Urban

“... the rigid orthodoxy of modern environmentalism” is the phrase that jumped out when I read Robert Stone’s Director’s Statement prior to the Australian release of his Sundance-selected doco, Pandora’s Promise. (It will have a few cinema screenings around Australia, starting in Melbourne from Tuesday, October 8, and a DVD release in December; see our review and his Statement in full).

Rigid orthodoxy in any field is the antithesis of intellectual rigour and genuine enquiry, and Pandora’s Promise finds the promise at the bottom of Pandora’s Box as we hear fierce environmentalists promoting the use of nuclear energy as clean, safe and renewable. The most important aspect of Stone’s film is that it is a record of high profile, articulate and opinion-driving activists having unlocked, opened and changed their minds, escaping that rigid orthodoxy.

It was Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth (2006) that really started the global panic about global warming. So persuasive was he and his film that it turned most of us into ‘believers’ – me included (my interview with Gore in Cannes) and set the agenda; it is still the sounding plate for the discussion on the subject. Gore’s alarmist views will be hard to rein in, but I for one no longer support policies that try to panic us into trying to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, preferring less ‘feel good’ and more ‘do good’ strategies, such as fast-tracking research … and nuclear energy.

And that’s my point here: films can move minds; films can have disproportionate influence in the world today, proof of their manipulative power. And manipulation is what politics and activism are all about: persuasion if you prefer a less loaded word.

Filmmakers CAN change the world; but they must be careful that it’s for the better; help to open minds, not close them.

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Andrew L. Urban

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