The Age of Stupid at the 52nd San Francisco International Film Festival
Things must be getting serious. At least for the planet and the environment. What else would explain the plethora of eco documentaries hitting the film festival circuit or that will hit mainstream theaters in the near future? Many of these green docu films cast a waving finger along with charts and graphs about what will happen to the planet in the future if we don’t act now. The Age of Stupid works a bit in reverse.
The Age of Stupid takes place in the year 2055 with a man called the Archivist (Pete Postlethwaite) sitting in a Noah’s Ark type storage tower with a collection of famous art, pairs of animals, and enough computer servers to make Google envious. The tower exists because the world has turned into a fiery, and flood ridden disaster area. The Archivist searches through archived video footage to see where man went wrong after having the opportunity to change things. The film takes futuristic standpoint of looking at the present (like right now).
Armstrong weaves the film’s central climate change core through various through lines, among others, transportation, war, consumerism, natural disaster, and alt energy and ties them together with intense and striking visuals. One story follows a local New Orleans hero Alvin DuVernay who rescued about 200 people and animals after hurricane Katrina hit but later we find out that he has worked for Shell for 30 years. Another narrative highlights Jeh Wadia who launches a discount Indian airline and honestly believes that he’s aiding the poor masses with cheap fares and thinks that the environmental aspect of flying an airline will just work itself out. The film smoothly displays how each of the characters has their own justification for doing something or their own hypocrisy toward climate change.
Like any multiple story line film, some characters and stories offer more connection, insight, emotion and education than others. On a creative level, for a low budget film, this pop-style documentary offers high production values with its spirited animation sequences and an often high charged music score. It also offers a clever way of telling the cautionary climate change tale that has been seemingly uttered countless times in recent years. Armstrong obviously created this film as a two-minute warning leading up to the Copenhagen treaty in December 2009 and although the film isn’t perfect hopefully she will be able to make a sequel called the Age of Smart.