Global Warming: Coming, Ready or Not

WEA Sydney Film Society program Sunday 9 January 2009

This year’s screenings commence at noon with an important program from the Goethe-Institut:

When the Iceberg Breaks Up (Wenn der Eisberg kalbt) Germany 2002 6 minutes colour
Recipes for Disaster Finland/Denmark 2008 85 minutes colour
The Circle (Der Kreis) East Germany 1988 3 minutes colour
The Bill (Die Rechnung) Germany 2009 4 minutes colour
The Age of Stupid UK 2009 89 minutes colour

When the Iceberg Breaks Up (Wenn der Eisberg kalbt)

Germany 2002 6 minutes colour
directed by Sylvie Hohlbaum and Gregor Schubert

DVD source: NFSA, on deposit from the Goethe-Institut. HfG (Hochshule für Gestaltung, Ulm/Ulm School of Design). Production, Hohlbaum, Schubert and Michael Schneider; concept, Hohlbaum, Schubert, Schneider and Stephan Limbach; cinematography, Mark Liedtke, Schneider; editing, Petra Schröder, Polis Kiriazidis; With Manfred Binder (inventor), Nina Michalk (radio announcer). In German with English subtitles. Dolby Digital 2.0. DVD format 16:9 enhanced. This film’s aspect ratio is 1.33:1.

In this short live-action film reportage, Manfred Binder is an “inventor” in the Hesse countryside. As he sees it, it is only a matter of time before climate change brings about the end of the world. His solution for saving humankind in the face of rising sea levels is to create a gargantuan “survival capsule” which will float on the world’s oceans.

Recipes for Disaster

Finland/Denmark 2008 85 minutes colour
written and directed by John Webster

DVD source: NFSA, on deposit from the Goethe-Institut. Millennium Film & JW Documentaries. Producer, Kristiina Pervilä; co-producer Lise Lense-Møller (Magic Hour Films); camera, the Webster family; additional cinematography, Tuomo Hutri; film editing, Nils Pagh Andersen, John Webster, sound design, Pietari Koskinen. In English, and Finnish with English subtitles. Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. Aspect ratio 1.67:1, 16:9 enhanced.

Jussi Awards 2009 (Finland): Awarded the Jussi for best documentary. Nominated for best film and best script. Nordisk Panorama Awards 2008: Awarded an honourable mention.

Director John Webster convinces his wife and two small children that the whole family should avoid using oil and other fossil fuels without giving up their middle-class suburban lifestyle. No driving cars, flying in aeroplanes, or buying anything packaged in plastic. But all the everyday things that we don’t do, or that we can’t help doing, are recipes for disaster. They find themselves questioning their values and putting to test their willpower and happiness. A documentary comedy of errors about a subject too serious to ignore.

John Webster was born in Helsinki in 1967 to British parents. In 1996 he graduated from the University of Art and Design in Helsinki with an MA in documentary filmmaking. Typical of his films is a blend of tragedy and comedy, melancholy and exuberance.

The Circle (Der Kreis)

East Germany 1988 3 minutes colour

An animated film in collage technique on the sense and nonsense of production and consumption. A diligently productive local factory has polluted its environment to such an extent that people and animals have to wear protective masks. The circle is completed in the final ironic scene.

The Bill (Die Rechnung)

Germany 2009 4 minutes colour

Three friends converse in a pub about their experiences in the past weeks. In this way, a colourful catalogue of sins against the climate emerges that is intensified when the waitress appears.

The Age of Stupid

UK 2009 89 minutes colour

Director: Franny Armstrong, with Pete Postlethwaite as the Archivist.

British Independent Film Awards 2009: Nominated for best documentary.

“In the year 2055, climate change has almost entirely eliminated humankind. In the middle of the ocean lies the last “repository” of human civilisation. Its only surviving member of staff (Pete Postlethwaite) looks over old footage from the beginning of the 21st century, back when it was still possible to prevent the catastrophe. This film combines a fictional narrative with documentary elements, retracing the path of ecological catastrophe from a future perspective. The pressing question remains, why didn’t we take our fate into our own hands while we still had the chance? This lays bare the interconnectedness of climate change, exposing the cultural as well as individual hurdles that stand in the way of immediate action.” — Goethe-Institut online film catalogue synopsis

Former pop drummer and self-taught British filmmaker Franny Armstrong, born in 1972 in London, has directed three feature documentaries — The Age of Stupid (2008), McLibel (2005) and Drowned Out (2003) — which have together been seen by 70 million people on TV, cinema, internet and DVD worldwide.

Pete Postlethwaite died of cancer last Sunday. When he had heard that Steven Spielberg called him “probably the best actor in the world”, he commented that Spielberg had more likely said “he thinks he’s the best actor in the world”.

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