Discovering the Truth about Climate Change: A Conversation with Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk
Winner of the 2017 Environmental Media Award for Best Documentary Film
Hailed as “a wake-up-call” (Frankie Crossley, Miro Magazine) and “skillfully put together” (Geoffrey Macnab, The Independent), the eye-opening and compelling AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL: TRUTH TO POWER arrives on Digital Download and DVD December 11th, 2017 from Paramount Home Media Distribution.
Ten years after the Academy Award®-winning An Inconvenient Truth brought climate change to the forefront of mainstream culture, the 2017 Environmental Media Association (EMA) Award-winning documentary AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL: TRUTH TO POWER follows former Vice President Al Gore as he continues his tireless fight, traveling around the globe to educate and inspire the next generation of climate champions. This “daring, urgent and exhilarating follow-up” (Josh Dickey, Mashable) shows that while the stakes have never been higher, the solutions to the climate crisis are still within our reach.
The AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL: TRUTH TO POWER DVD includes over 40 minutes of in-depth bonus content. Join Al Gore and filmmakers for a behind-the-scenes discussion about why they felt it was time for a follow up to the acclaimed documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Plus, learn more about the urgency of global climate change and the tools we have at our disposal that can help make a difference. The DVD will be available in packaging made from 100% recycled material.
The husband-and-wife filmmaking team worked with Al Gore to bring climate change to the forefront of mainstream culture in this topical, award-winning documentary, the follow up to An Inconvenient Truth. The DVD includes over 40 minutes of in-depth bonus content to educate and inspire the next generation of climate champions.
The Fan Carpet’s Camila Sayers had the pleasure of speaking to the husband-and-wife filmmaking team ahead of the release of AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL: TRUTH TO POWER on Digital and DVD…
So I watched your documentary today, it was very gripping, I learnt a lot to say the least. I heard from behind the scenes features that when you first met Al Gore he took you on a journey, firstly how bad climate change had got, to the hope that we have still in it. How do you think making this film informed or changed your view on what you already knew about climate change?
Bonni: Well when you have the opportunity as we did, to spend the better part of two years in Al Gore’s presence, doing the work that he does so tirelessly every day, meeting with leaders across the disciplines of business, politics, university professors, scientists etc., you know, it’s inevitable that your perspective is going to change.
I think, Jon and I may not be the best test case for that because we had previously made, we had already made a climate change film in 2012, so we knew quite a bit, the basic difference between then and know, certainly between the first film’s experience and ours, is that along with all the despair and how bad things have gotten, the solutions are now in place to make a change and try and turn this big ship around.
So, we became kind of indoctrinated to that because we kept hearing that from everyone that Al met with and I suppose we came out the other end of the process more hopeful than we had gone in, that the seed of the alternative energy revolution is such that we do have it in hand to make the changes it’s just a question of getting the population on board. So that’s a very different take to what we had before we started on our journey with him.
Another word that Al Gore actually quotes, a Sanskrit word used by Gandhi is “Satyagraha”, if I’ve pronounced that right, which is “the truth force”. As documentary film-makers, how much of a challenge was it to bring this “truth force” about climate change, but including both sides of the argument into this film?
Jon: Yeah that’s a great frame for what documentaries are. You know, documentaries are, the good ones at least, are ones that really shine a light of truth on an important subject and what could be more important than trying to solve the climate crisis which is the most complicated problem mankind has ever faced.
We really don know now that there is a natural drama that you see in the film as it unfolds that there is now promising solutions to move towards electricity generation from sustainable sources of energy like solar and wind, and move away from these fuels that have gotten the world into the problem that it’s in.
Unfortunately there’s been these people on both sides that are fighting for their interests, you have these fossil fuel companies with a huge amount of money that are trying to poison the debate and make people believe that there are two sides to this debate when in fact there really are not two sides to the science, there’s one side to the truth and I think that’s why Al Gore talks about the “truth force” because there really is one truth, there’s been this kind of false duality that’s taken hold, especially in our country, in the media there’s sort of two versions of reality and unfortunately we have a President who’s kind of delivering this message as well, when in fact it’s not true, the truth is if we keep burning fossil fuels we will damage the planet beyond repair and our children and grandchildren will have to live on this planet and there’s a really dramatic thing happening where even conservatives are waking up to the fact “hey we can create companies, make money, solve the climate crisis and leave the world in a better place than how we found it”. So that truth is really quite an inspiring message.
Absolutely. So obviously the prime subject of the film is climate change, but as a viewer it also did seem that Al Gore was quite a big subject of the film. How quickly did you both realise that it would become a film about climate change but also a film about Al Gore and his efforts in this?
Bonni: Well, you know, it was always going to be a film about climate change because it was always going to be a sequel to the first movie An Inconvenient Truth and it was always going to involve Al Gore in some regard, the challenge was trying to figure out what the time that we’re in now called for, you know, did we need another data driven film? How do we create the updates that are reflective of the climate crisis we’re now in and the solutions that are in place?
And, you know, the truth is we went down to meet Al Gore in July 2015 and we where so intrigued and interested in him as a person, as somebody who has lived through the horror of the election of 2000 and remade his career to become this environmental warrior and, you know, was still at it all these years later. We started to talk to him about his calendar and things that he was planning for the year and coupled with our strengths as film-makers who tend to make, you know, real life character portraits and, you know, storied dramas around real people, we thought maybe what the world needs is to understand what it takes to be a climate warrior and what it takes to move the needle on the climate crisis, and here’s a real life person who has had Shakespearean drama in his own life and has still risen out of the ashes to fight another day and to move the needle on this crisis.
So we sort of saw that pretty starkly when we met Al for the first time and sort of presented it as an idea, not sure how he’d feel about it or how it would pan out, we certainly couldn’t have anticipated what kind of role he would play in the Paris Climate Accords, but it turned out that the year that we followed him was a very dramatic year for a lot of reasons including the US Presidential elections, the Paris Climate Accords, just all the reports that where coming out of that year about the climate crisis, the continuing natural disasters around the world, we visited the Philippines where one had occurred, we visited Miami where the King Tide was washing ocean water up onto the streets of Miami Beach, Florida on a sunny day, so bearing witness to all of that with someone with the integrity and passion of Al Gore and also the history of Al Gore which is so interesting and dramatic we thought “Ah these are the makings of a real film”.
So, I’d just like to point out, as a viewer, that obviously I really enjoyed that human element that you brought to the film but my last question is; obviously this is a sequel to An Inconvenient Truth which had an Oscar win and obviously sent waves across the globe about climate change, with a bit of trepidation about asking the obvious but this has obviously got a great reception already, what do you both hope that this film will further achieve?
Jon: We really think that audiences have found and will continue to find when they watch this movie, I think they’ll be really surprised by a number of things. Number 1, just the amazing humanity of Al Gore just the passion and the warmth that he brings, the sense of humour, his drive, his emotional vulnerability as a leading man is really, we really think is stunning.
The other thing is this incredible drama that’s going on, the battle between the sustainable energy and the incumbent energy, the fossil fuel world, is really kind of a political thriller, and ultimately to see the climate crisis, you know, through Al Gore’s lens and to see that it just is the most important social issue of our time, the climate crisis has become a human rights issue along the lines of civil rights and woman’s rights and gay rights, and real people are now suffering because of the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it seems more and more that this is essentially a human rights battle for people and I think they’ll come away from the film with a deeper understanding of that.
We showed the film recently in San Francisco to a group of school kids and later today we’re being interviewed by a 10th year old, a 4th Grader, who saw the film and wants to report on it for her science blog which she runs for her school because she thinks that this is the most important issue of her generation. And so the thing that we’re most excited about is that when people see it and they do things with that energy that we can’t possibly imagine, you know, and we’ve met some of those people over the years who saw the first Inconvenient Truth and went on to become politicians, inventors, entrepreneurs, journalists, and do the work to try and make the world a better place, that’s really inspiring.
AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL: TRUTH TO POWER – SEE IT ON DIGITAL AND DVD DECEMBER 11
About JON SHENK
(Co-Director/Cinematographer) has directed and photographed many award-winning films. In addition to co-directing and photographing AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL: TRUTH TO POWER, in 2016 Shenk co-directed and photographed AUDRIE & DAISY, which premiered in competition at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and was picked up as a Netflix Original film. In 2011 Shenk directed THE ISLAND PRESIDENT, winner of the 2011 TIFF’s People’s Choice Award and IDA’s Pare Lorentz Award. Shenk was awarded the 2004 Independent Spirit Award for directing LOST BOYS OF SUDAN. Shenk was the DP for the 2008 Academy Award®-winning SMILE PINKI, and he won an Emmy for BLAME SOMEBODY ELSE, 2007.
About BONNI COHEN
(Co-Director) has produced and directed an array of award-winning films. In addition to co-directing AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL: TRUTH TO POWER, Cohen co-directed AUDRIE & DAISY, which premiered in competition at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and was picked up as a Netflix Original film. In addition to her directing work, Cohen served as producer on THE ISLAND PRESIDENT, winner of the 2011 Toronto International Best Documentary. Her work as producer and director on THE RAPE OF EUROPA earned her a PGA and WGA nomination and was short-listed for the Oscars. In addition, Cohen produced Jon Else’s Sundance film, WONDERS ARE MANY, and together with Else co-directed INSIDE GUANTANAMO which was nominated for an Emmy for Best Documentary in 2009. Bonni also executive produced 3.5 MINUTES and ART and CRAFT, and both films were selected for the Oscar® shortlist in 2015. Together with Lisa Chanoff, Cohen is the co-founder of the Catapult Film Fund.