reviewed by Marc Glassman
M.U.C.K. (Movies of Un-Common Knowledge) Film Festival
October 1-4 at the Royal Cinema, 608 College Street. Festival director: Dr. Stuart Samuels. www.muckfilmfestival.com
Featuring docs: RIP: A Remix Manifesto, The World According to Monsanto, Enjoy Poverty, Crude, Rethink Afghanistan and
Age of Stupid. Franny Armstrong, director and writer. Starring: Pete Postlethwaite, Fernand Pareau, Jeh Wadia, Alvin DuVernay, Layefa Malemi, Jamila and Adnan Bayyoud, Piers Guy
Dr. Stuart Samuels, the Festival Director of M.U.C.K. is a unique individual: an intellectual who left academia to become a successful documentary filmmaker. (His Midnight Movies played at Cannes and TIFF in 2005.) Now he’s become a curator with a mandate to “muck up” mainstream beliefs by showing films that espouse social change.
The films he’s showing range from good to excellent. This is one festival worth supporting. Rather than discussing the films in general, let’s look more closely at one.
The Age of Stupid
Young, feisty and intensely committed to social issues, British filmmaker Franny Armstrong has made a cheeky, innovative film about climate change. The Age of Stupid is structured as a science fiction tale, incorporating animation, music and, of course, documentary.
In the year 2055, the world has been ravaged by an out of control climate that has burned up a huge chunk of the world. There have been hurricanes and floods. Civilization has been destroyed. The human race is gone except for one man, an archivist, who has all the art and science of the world in one huge building. That man, played by Oscar nominee Pete Postlethwaite, sits in a huge room, with digitized moving images set up on a clear screen between the viewer and him. He narrates the cautionary tale of how humanity ignored its chance to save the world back in 2008.
Using an ensemble structure, the film moves from the narrator to a series of doc tales, shot by Armstrong over the past two years. In England, a windfarm developer, Piers Guy, attempts to develop a new facility to create alternative energy but is defeated by local citizenry who object to the “ugly, noisy” windmills. In India, entrepreneur Jeh Wadia attempts to get a cheap airline going—ignoring all signs that planes are the worst culprits in terms of spreading greenhouse gas. In Nigeria, Layefa Malemi ends up selling bootleg oil in order to finance her medical education.
Yep—it’s global! In France, Fernand Pareau, octogenarian mountain guide rails against the four-lane highway filled with trucks that has disturbed his once-beautiful area of the Alps. In Jordan, a couple of Iraqi refugees, Jamila and Adnan Bayyoud, blame oil on the death of their dad and present appalling circumstances. In the US, Alvin DuVernay, a 30-year Shell Oil worker reflects on his new ecological life—after saving 100 people during Hurricane Katrina.
Armstrong has found some great documentary characters and her film is quite compelling. Her cause is just and she’s put together a wonderful selection of tales. You’d be dumb if you didn’t come out and support The Age of Stupid—and M.U.C.K.