Review of The Age Of Stupid: A docu-drama about climate change and our possible future

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Following the screening of the film (runtime: 92 minutes), a 40-minute event featuring Kofi Annan, Gillian Anderson (from X-Files), Mary Robinson, the film's director Franny Armstrong, Pete Postlethwaite (the lead actor of the film) and other leading thinkers, celebrities and political figures from around the world were presented via the satellite link. Live music from Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and satellite links to scientists working in the Indonesian Rainforest and at the melting glaciers in the Himalayas brought deeper emotional and informational layers to the film’s message on human generated climate change. A group of children spoke from the room in Copenhagen where global climate policies will be decided at the UN climate summit in December.

The film is also innovative in its mix of drama, documentary, live action and animated footage. The film’s creators dubbed it a “cinema documentary”.  

Director Franny Armstrong (McLibel) convinced her favorite actor (Oscar-nominated Pete Postlethwaite) to star in her film after reading an article in his hometown paper where he discussed his efforts to install a wind turbine at his home. Postlewaite stars as an old man living in the devastated world of 2055, watching 'archive' footage from 2008 and asking: why didn't we stop climate change while we had the chance? This dramatic portion of the film sifts one man’s lament over war, politics, consumerism, climate change, and human stupidity.

[image-1]The film cuts from Postlewaite’s dramatic sequences to documentary sequences featuring six real people and their missions to make positive environmental and social change. Fernand Pareau, is an 82-year old French mountain guide who’s been witnessing glacier deterioration since the 1950s. Jeh Wadia is starting a low-cost airline in India. Alvin DuVernay, Is a Shell Oil scientist who rescued 100 people after Hurricane Katrina and sees that Katrina is a direct consequence of global warming. Layefa Malemi lives in Shell’s most profitable oil region in Nigeria- she is trying to become doctor and get a hospital built to help her people. Shell oil has promised to build hospitals there, but leaves nothing but waste for most. The only money she sees coming out of Shell goes to the government lobbyists responsible for letting Shell into Nigeria.  Jamila and Adnan Bayyoud, are two Iraqi refugee kids trying to find their brother and prized donkey amidst the killing and carnage in war torn Iraq. The children discuss warfare, their loss, and their pain. This leads to one of the film’s most memorable sequences, an animation on the history of war. The animation discloses that the Iraq war and every war are ultimately about resources. Piers Guy, a windfarm developer, fights an anti-windfarm lobby in England who don’t want the windfarm constructed because they don’t like the way they look. (I covered an identical situation that happened in America in 2004 - I guess people prefer the way oil-covered birds and soiled skies look. I agree, we are in one hell of a 'stupid' age).

Another innovation is how the film was financed. £450,000 was raised by “crowd-funding” (selling shares to individuals and groups). This makes the film truly independent.

The film was a bittersweet experience for me because I wrote a similar environmental dystopian feature screenplay in 2004. My film, entitled Apocalypse Near combines drama, documentary and animation into a blend I call “hyper-reality”. I had the film in pre-production, assembled a crew, most of a cast and nearly two thirds of the financing to begin production in 2006, but my investors got cold feet about my environmental message. They, like so many others, bought into the counter-spin that our environmental situation is some kind of ploy made up by Al Gore or an unsubstantiated “Green” conspiracy. I have since watched the scienctific evidence supporting human generated climate change grow along with the “Green economy”. If The Age of Stupid rakes in box office like An Inconvenient Truth, I’ll have the satisfaction of saying “I told you so” again and the self knowledge that I was ahead of my time with my script. Of course, I’d rather have made the film and maybe I still will because I think my film strikes a different chord in the same ecological key and it’s more 'punk rock' approach to the subject would reach a different demographic. Additionally, my film explains why humans are destroying their own life support system (information gleaned from my clinical death experience in 2004). It’s a weird-wacky ride in the tradition of socially conscious cult films like Soylent Green and Riders Of The Storm. I wrote my script into a book after my financing fell through, anyone wanting a review copy may request one by contacting me. I’d also like to urge you to see The Age Of Stupid and come back here to leave your comments.

The Age of Stupid was filmed on location in the US, UK, India, Nigeria, Iraq, Jordan, and the Alps. More information at:

[Tampa, FL-  Sept.21, 2009]  Tonight I attended the global premiere of the film The Age of Stupid. I was invited to this event by my friend Ingrid Esteves, a French national who doesn’t understand how the U.S. could back out of the Kyoto Treaty, or why we’d want to be as stupid as Napoleon and start wars on two fronts at the same time. Yes, there’s lots of 'stupid' to discuss in our age, but let’s talk about this outstanding film first. This film is ambitious in several respects. Firstly, there’s the way it premiered.

The film opened globally tonight in synch with a star-studded live screening event in New York. Before the film began audiences were able to watch VIPs arrive at the Manhattan premiere by bike, rickshaw, electric car and sail boat via a satellite link that broadcast the event to 700 cinemas in 50+ countries. The celebrities then walked a green carpet (made from recycled soda bottles) to a solar powered cinema tent in downtown New York.

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