Are you part of the 'Age of Stupid'?


Posted at Sep 23 2009 07:19 PM | Updated as of Sep 24 2009 07:04 AM

A truncated version of the official "Age of Stupid" trailer.

MANILA - The much-awaited documentary "Age of Stupid" premiered globally in over 50 countries (including Antarctica) this week, sparking renewed calls for climate change action.

The film, directed by British filmmaker and climate change activist Franny Armstrong, is set in the bleak scenery of 2055 where an archivist (played by Oscar nominee Pete Postlethwaite) is looking at 2008 archive footage that illustrate the signs and impacts of climate change.

Part-animation and part-drama, "Age of Stupid" also follows the lives of 6 people - from an old French mountain guide who is worried about glaciers melting to a British wind-farm developer and his family - who are all dealing with the effects of climate change. Some scenes are brutal and graphic to drive certain points home.

The film's main premise is that climate change is happening now, often with alarming and disastrous effects, but humans are not doing more to stop it.

As Postlethwaite's character asks, "I wonder. Did we think we weren't worth saving?"

According to Greenpeace media campaigner JP Agcaoili, the documentary is called "Age of Stupid" because some lines in the film discuss the events leading up to 2055, "when humanity generally knew what it was doing wrong to the climate but did not stop it when [they] still had a chance."

A character referred to this time as the "age of stupid."

Armstrong's previous films include "McLibel", about the McDonalds libel trial from 1986 to 2005, and "Drowned Out", about an Indian family who refused to leave their home to make way for the controversial Narmada Dam project.

Worldwide responses

Postlethwaite, who initially thought he was doing a voice-over for the documentary, was won over by the team's passion for environmental advocacy.

The documentary team reportedly worked with a meager budget but had lots of energy.

"I do feel strongly about this movement to try to get people become more aware about climate change. You know you also ought to be aware about your own personal responsibility and where we can do something about it. Simple things like insulating your house so you're not... losing heat. It may seem simple, but it saves you 25% of your bill," Postlethwaite said in a video interview with The Guardian.

He also told The Guardian that he expects many people to oppose or dismiss the film due to its cautionary message.

However, he wants people not to feel hopeless, but rather think more along the lines of "What can we do?"

Already, skeptics like Phelim McAleer have written catty reviews about "Age of Stupid", calling it "fake" and "hypocritical."

McAleer, the director of "Not Evil, Just Wrong" has long been opposed to what he calls "global warming alarmism" and its alleged devastating economic effects to many major American industries.

Green groups

The film has served as another rallying point for the climate change campaigns of many international environmental groups like Greenpeace, which is actively promoting the film worldwide.

In the Philippines, Greenpeace staged a premiere screening on Tuesday (September 22) at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, with a "green carpet gala" in the works for October 13 at the Glorietta 4 Cinema 3 in Makati at 7 p.m.

The premiere showings were scheduled in time for the United Nations General Assembly in New York, which precedes the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen this December.

Greenpeace is pushing for world leaders, especially those from rich countries, to cut down more on their carbon emissions and provide finance packages for poor countries like the Philippines that are vulnerable to climate change.

Other screenings are also being organized by Greenpeace and the Global Campaign for Climate Action, with the goal of reaching 250 million people and creating more environmental activists, according to a statement by Greenpeace Southeast Asia Executive Director Von Hernandez.