×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Sundance Film Review: ‘How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change’

An environmental documentary that consists of roughly one-third doom-and-gloom to two-thirds wide-eyed optimism.

With:
Josh Fox, Mike Rodriguez, Aria Doe, Bri Jackson, Bill McKibben, Michael Mann, Lester Brown, Van Jones, Petra Tschakert, Elizabeth Kolbert, Ander Ordoñez, Mozambite Ausberto, Mahua Jaba, Nina Gualinga, Eriberto Gualinga, Franco Tulio, Viteri Gualinga, Tim DeChristopher, Milañ Loeak, Isso Nihmei, Mika Maiava, Wu Di, Huang Ming, Ella Chau, Paul Nalau, Joe Mwitumwa, Raven Joseph, Tatianna Burchette, FeiFei & her mom.

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5246328/

Josh Fox’s “GasLand” (2010) was a startling act of DIY filmmaking: Faced with the prospect of leasing his Pennsylvania property for natural-gas exploration, the helmer-star set out to explore the environmental consequences of hydrofracking and uncovered alarming results. That personal quest — which netted Fox a special jury prize at Sundance that year and, later, an Oscar nomination — seems to have bloomed into a larger activist mission for the director, a trajectory that led to diminishing returns in “GasLand Part II” (2013) and now the uneven “How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change,” an environmental documentary that consists of roughly one-third doom-and-gloom to two-thirds wide-eyed optimism, and that is more potent in individual scenes than it is as a sprawling whole. While Fox’s peppy muckraking lacks the name recognition that brought “An Inconvenient Truth” theatrical success, the movie stands to reach a sizable audience when HBO airs it in June.

“How to Change” opens with Fox dancing to the Beatles to celebrate a victory over the gas industry in the Delaware River Basin. But his joy soon turns to frustration when he discovers that a tree he nurtured in boyhood is being ravaged by parasitic insects, a result, he explains, of changes to the climate. He visits Hurricane Sandy-devastated parts of New York, including a home immersed in sewage and sand, and a boardwalk that, he says in voiceover, had turned “into a cubist abstraction of what a boardwalk should be.” If these scenes don’t register with the impact of the flammable tap water in “GasLand,” the interviews with community activists call to mind “Roger & Me”-era Michael Moore — the work a filmmaker devoted to exploring hot-button issues with a folksy, personal touch. More than Moore, Fox is attuned to some of the complexities of the issues he raises.

Fox visits with environmentalists like Bill McKibben, who proposes naming hurricanes after after oil and gas companies instead of women, and Michael E. Mann, who suggests that temperatures are already on an irreversible course to rise to catastrophic levels. With one statistic after another, the movie paints a picture of the inevitable flooding of coastal cities and an ensuing struggle for homes and food. “I don’t know about you,” Fox says at one point, “but I’m about ready to watch a few cat videos right now.”

After admitting, about 40 minutes in, that he is resigned to pure hopelessness, Fox suddenly shifts tactics, seeking out ground-level activists around the world who have come up with local solutions to climate problems. “I needed to find the people who’d found this place, this place of despair, and gotten back up,” he narrates. How these solutions might be implemented, and on what scale, are questions the movie, despite a rambling two-hour-plus running time, never quite addresses.

Fox visits an oil spill in the Amazonian rain forest and sends up a drone camera to illustrate deforestation. He finds impoverished communities in Ecuador and Zambia that make use of solar power. He joins Pacific Islanders in a canoe-flotilla protest against a coal tanker, leading to a confrontation with authorities that nearly results in the waterlogging of Fox’s camera. The most compelling of these globe-trotting episodes, or at least the one that comes closest to the citizen-activist flavor of  “GasLand,” is the visit Fox pays to China, where he explores the health effects of chronic smog. (He calls Beijing a city of 20 million where no one opens a window.) Flagged as a journalist, he is also trailed by authorities, and — to avoid the confiscation of his footage — hides digital cards in his banjo.

Conceptually scattered, the movie seems to settle more for a change of attitude than for practical recommendations. After spending its first third suggesting that it’s almost impossible to get environmental incentives to align with political and economic ones, the movie takes heart in communities that have found small-scale solutions — as if those would prevent the immersion of New York and San Francisco that Fox has worked so hard to foreshadow.

The varied lensing — which ranges from professional camera work to mosaic’d camera-phone shooting — adds to Fox’s sense of rough-and-ready determination.

Sundance Film Review: 'How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change'

Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (competing), Jan. 24, 2016. Running time: 125 MIN.

Production: (Documentary) An HBO Documentary Films release of an Intl. WOW production. (International sales: Cinetic Media, New York.) Produced by Deia Schlosberg, Josh Fox. Co-producers, Trish Adlesic, Diana Meservey, Deborah Wallace, Robert Silverman.

Crew: Directed, written by Josh Fox. Camera (color, HD), Fox, Deia Schlosberg, Alex Tyson, Steve Liptay, Matt Sanchez; editors, Annukka Lilja, Greg King; music supervisor, Robert Meitus; sound, Gigantic Studios; supervising sound editor, Eric Milano; re-recording mixer, Milano.

With: Josh Fox, Mike Rodriguez, Aria Doe, Bri Jackson, Bill McKibben, Michael Mann, Lester Brown, Van Jones, Petra Tschakert, Elizabeth Kolbert, Ander Ordoñez, Mozambite Ausberto, Mahua Jaba, Nina Gualinga, Eriberto Gualinga, Franco Tulio, Viteri Gualinga, Tim DeChristopher, Milañ Loeak, Isso Nihmei, Mika Maiava, Wu Di, Huang Ming, Ella Chau, Paul Nalau, Joe Mwitumwa, Raven Joseph, Tatianna Burchette, FeiFei & her mom.

More Film

  • Dami Im and Bong Joon-Ho'Parasite' premiere,

    ‘Parasite’ Wins Sydney Film Festival

    “Parasite,” the South Korean black drama that previously won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, was Sunday named as the winner of the Sydney Film Festival. After collecting a cash prize of A$60,000 ($41,200), at Sydney’s State Theatre, “Parasite” director said: “This Festival is really amazing, especially the audience…really special and extraordinary. This is the most [...]

  • China Film Group's Jiang Ping

    Shanghai: China Studio Chiefs Debate Winter Chills and U.S. Rivalry

    The Shanghai International Film Festival pulled off the impressive feat of assembling leading executives from seven of China’s top film studios. Their discussion focused on the problems that have recently beset the production sector and the industry’s relationship with Hollywood. “The film industry achieved great things in 2018, but it was also the year that [...]

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping claps while

    Propaganda Films to Dominate Chinese Theaters in Anniversary Year

    A presentation at the Shanghai International Film Festival on Sunday shed light on the welter of propaganda films that will compete with Hollywood blockbusters for the attention of Chinese cinema goers in the second half of this year. This year is laden with political significance for China’s ruling Communist Party. It is 100 years since [...]

  • Leung Chiu-wai

    Tony Leung to Star in Shanghai Film Group's 'Fox Hunt' Police Action Film

    Hong Kong’s Tony Leung Chiu-wai and mainland China’s Duan Yihong will head the cast of the Shanghai Film Group’s upcoming “Fox Hunt.” The film is based on real live events and depicts the activities of Operation Fox Hunt, a worldwide anti-corruption initiative managed by China’s Ministry of Public Security. The operation seeks to find and [...]

  • Wings Over Everest

    Terence Chang's 'Wings Over Everest' Set to Swell China's Rescue Film Genre

    “Wings over Everest,” a new action adventure film from veteran producer Terence Chang and “Wolf Warrior 2” producer Lu Jianmin, is poised to join the burgeoning Chinese sub-genre of rescue movies.   The Chinese- and English-language film stars Chinese actress Zhang Jingchu (“Project Gutenberg”; “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation”), Japanese actor Koji Yakusho (“Babel”; “Memoirs of a [...]

  • The Eight Hundred (The 800)

    China Film Marketing Firms Must Adapt To Internet Age, Says Huayi's Jerry Ye

    Huayi Brothers Pictures CEO and media group VP Jerry Ye made no mention Sunday of the abrupt cancellation of the premiere for his firm’s highly anticipated war epic “The Eight Hundred,” which was set to be the Shanghai Intl. Film Festival’s opening film the night before. Instead, he looked to the future at a panel [...]

  • The Meg

    Chinese Script Development Requires A Different Touch, Top Producers Say

    Leading film producers highlighted the challenges of developing good scripts in China and abroad at a panel during the Shanghai International Film Festival on Sunday. Wanda Media GM Jiang Wei (aka Wayne Jiang) recommended that producers remain aware of the real differences between the scriptwriting process for Chinese productions versus international and co-productions. The fundamental [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content