PRESS PACK The new cinema documentary from Director Franny Armstrong (McLibel, Drowned Out) and Oscar-winning Producer John Battsek (One Day In September, In The Shadow of the Moon). Pete Postlethwaite stars as an old man living alone in the devastated world of 2055, looking at “archive” footage from 2008, asking: why didn’t we stop climate change when we had the chance? Produced independently, with a “crowd-funded” budget of £450,000, the 89 minute film has been released in cinemas in the UK and will be launched in America in September 2009. PRODUCER Lizzie Gillett firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)20 7383 0822 +44 (0)7789 862 011
BCM Spanner Films London, WC1N 3XX United Kingdom
SPAN N R FILMS
Spanner Films Ltd Herston Cross, 230 High St, Swanage, Dorset, BH19. UK
Passion Pictures 33-34 Rathbone Place London W1T 1JN. UK
BASICS Director Producer Exective Producer Composer Production Companies Starring Running Time Genre Subject Locations Shot on Screening Format Proposed Release Schedule Website
Franny Armstrong Lizzie Gillett John Battsek Chris Brierley Spanner Films & Passion Pictures Pete Postelethwaite + 5 doc characters 89 mins Documentary - Drama - Animation Climate change, oil, war & human stupidity America, UK, India, Nigeria, Iraq, Jordan, The Alps HD & HDV HDcam, Digi Beta UK - March 2008 Global Launch - July 2008 US Premiere - Autumn 2008 www.ageofstupid.net
REVIEWS “A Deeply Inconvenient Kick Up the Backside... you won’t see a more important film this year” “Has enough attitude to power a large city... Slaps you round the face...then punches you in the stomach.” “Compelling and constantly surprising... the first successful dramatisation of climate change to reach the big screen” “Lectures us sternly and pitilessly but also intelligently and provokingly”
“The most imaginative and dramatic assault on the institutional complacency shrouding the issue” “Knocks spots off An Inconvenient Truth”
“Fabulously funny... heart-wrenching... visually stunning” “Bold, supremely provocative, and hugely important... a cry from the heart as much as a roar for necessary change.”
SYNOPSIS SHORT (66 WORDS)
‘The Age Of Stupid’ is the new cinema documentary from the Director of ‘McLibel’ and the Producer of the Oscar-winning ‘One Day In September’. This enormously ambitious drama-documentary-animation hybrid stars Oscar-nominated Pete Postlethwaite as an old man living in the devastated world of 2055, watching “archive” footage from 2008 and asking: why didn’t we stop climate change while we had the chance?
LONG (340 WORDS)
‘The Age Of Stupid’ is the new documentary-drama-animation hybrid from Director Franny Armstrong (McLibel, Drowned Out) and Oscar-winning Producer John Battsek (One Day In September, Live Forever, In the Shadow of the Moon). Oscar-nominated Pete Postlethwaite (In The Name of the Father, Brassed Off, The Usual Suspects) stars as an old man living in the devastated world of 2055. He watches ‘archive’ footage from 2008 and asks: Why didn’t we stop climate change when we had the chance? Runaway climate change has ravaged the planet by 2055. Pete plays the founder of The Global Archive, a storage facility located in the (now melted) Arctic, preserving all of humanity’s achievements in the hope that the planet might one day be habitable again. Or that intelligent life may arrive and make use of all that we’ve achieved. He pulls together clips of “archive” news and documentary from 1950>2008 to build a message showing what went wrong and why. He focusses on six human stories: < Alvin Duvernay, is a paleontogolist helping Shell find more oil off the coast of New Orleans. He also rescued more than 100 people after Hurricane Katrina, which, by 2055, is well known as one of the first “major climate change events”. > Jeh Wadia in Mumbai aims to start-up a new low-cost airline and gets a million Indians flying. < Layefa Malemi lives in absolute poverty in a small village in Nigeria from which Shell extracts tens of millions of dollars worth of oil every week. She dreams of becoming a doctor, but must fish in the oil-infested waters for four years to raise the funds. > Jamila Bayyoud, aged 8, is an Iraqi refugee living on the streets of Jordan after her home was destroyed - and father killed - during the US-led invasion of 2003. She’s trying to help her elder brother make it across the border to safety. < Piers Guy is a windfarm developer from Cornwall fighting the NIMBYs of Middle England. > 82-year-old French mountain guide Fernand Pareau has witnessed his beloved Alpine glaciers melt by 150 metres.
THE PEOPLE’S PREMIERE The Age Of Stupid, the new cinema documentary from the Director of McLibel had it’s UK Premiere on March 15th 2009 in a solar cinema tent in the middle of London’s Leicester Square, and simultaneously at 62 cinemas, setting a new Guinness World Record in the process. The star of the film, Pete Postlethwaite, arrived by by bicycle before posing for the papparazzi on the green carpet. Other celebs and high profile guests, including Gillian Anderson, Jason Isaacs, Will Young and the Government Minister for climate change, arrived on foot, by bicycle, public transport or biodiesel cars (chip fat from local Leicester Square chippies was collected by youth volunteers to power the vehicles). The premiere was not plugged into any mains power with the entire event being successfuly powered by solar panels resulting in only 1% of the carbon emissions of a normal Hollywood style premiere. (See eco fact on next page). The People’s Premiere also generated a huge amount of mainstream press coverage, took £70,000 GBP in one day, inspired people to change their lives and enabled ten thousand people to see the film simultaneously. Along with all the print and online articles, the best of which are included in this press pack, the event also featured on the following TV programmes: Channel 4 News, Sky News, BBC News, ten minutes on BBC Newsnight, Richard & Judy, BBC Breakfast, and the Today programme.
JASON ISAACS, ACTOR
THE UK’s FIRST ROAD LEGAL SOLAR CAR
PETE PLEDGES TO GIVE BACK HIS OBE IF THE GOVERNMENT FAIL TO ACT>
PETE POSTLETHWAITE ARRIVING BY BIKE >
THE 1% EVENT The Age of Stupid premiere will result in just 1% of the
CO2 emissions of a regular blockbuster premiere:
5 TONNES OF CARBON
VS. 500 TONNES OF A TYPICAL RED CARPET PREMIERE
ROLL UP, ROLL UP REPAIR FREE BIKE N SITE ERVICE O
Our Green Travel Plan is guiding people to and from the premiere in low carbon style, be it on foot, bicycle (zero carbon), bus or train (low carbon). Anyone coming by car must have a full car-load - no single passengers. We are enforcing a no-fly-zone around the premiere: If just one of our celebs were to fly in to London from LA they would emit as much CO2 as the entire rest of the event.
Our celebs are rolling up in a fleet of zero carbon wheels: a Lotus Elise running on landfill gas - three electric G-Wiz cars a Tesla Roadster, an all electric sports car, capable of 0-60mph in 4 seconds and straight from the labs of Cambridge Uni: the UKâ€™s first road legal solar car
ade Front row seats m on nd Lo ed from recycl papers. No plastic cups. All printed material d uses recycled paper an vegetable inks.
The fence cover for the event is made from re-used fair trade coffee sacks. Cars powered by used chip fat
DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT Either we seriously tackle climate change or we wipe out most life on Earth. The future of our species and everything we have ever achieved is at stake, so it’s not a tricky decision, as a filmmaker, to decide which subject to work on. The original plan, back in 2002, was to borrow the structure of Stephen Soderbergh’s movie “Traffic”: six human stories on all sides of a complex international issue. “Traffic” was fiction/drugs and “Crude” (working title) was going to be documentary/oil. I hooked up with producer John Battsek and agreed we needed a decent budget to make such an ambitious film, but that we also wanted to remain utterly independent. So we came up with a scheme we called “crowd-funding”. The complete budget of 450,000 UK pounds was raised by selling “shares” to individuals and groups – including a hockey team and a health centre – who care about climate change. Our 228 investors gave between 500 and 35,000 pounds and each own a percentage of profits of the film, as do the crew, who worked at massively reduced rates. Which leaves us in the powerful position of owning all the rights. My first two films – McLibel and Drowned Out – have together been watched by 55 million viewers worldwide, and we are planning to smash that record with Stupid. After three years simultaneously following six different stories in six wildly-different locations New Orleans, Nigeria, UK, The Alps, India, Jordan – we held some test screenings of the rough cut. This was May 2007. Disaster. Only people obsessed with climate change could understand all our subtle links. To everyone else it was a hodgepodge of random stories. After despairing a while, I decided to introduce a fictional character, living in 2055, when the planet has been devastated and hundreds of millions of people killed. He is trawling through “archive” footage fromnow, trying to work out why we didn’t stop climate change when we still had the chance. There was only ever one actor in my mind and when I googled “Pete Postlethwaite + climate change” and learnt he was setting up a wind turbine in his garden, I thought we might just have a hope of persuading him... Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth did a fantastic job at bringing the public up-to-speed on the science of climate. The Age of Stupid takes the baton from Gore and examines the moral, psychological and human consequences of our current way of life. We calculated the film’s carbon footprint by recording every journey - by foot, bicycle, motor boat, rowing boat, plane, train, car, rickshaw and helicopter - as well as all the electricity, gas, food and equipment used. It added up to 94 tonnes, which is equivalent to four Americans for a year or 185 patio heaters for a month. I definitely think our film is worth 185 patio heaters.
Franny first thought of the idea for Crude (as it was known then) back in 2002. The plan was to borrow the structure from Stephen Soderbergh’s film ‘Traffic’: six interweaving stories circling the drugs trade and refusing to supply easy answers. But where Traffic was about drugs, Crude would be about oil and climate change.
In 2004 Franny signed up the UK’s top documentary producer, John Battsek, with the aim of channeling his contacts and experience into a mainstream hit. John won the Best Documentary Oscar in 2001, with his very first feature documenatary, One Day in September. Since then, he’s produced a brace of commercially successful docs on subjects ranging from American moon landings and British pop music to Bolivian tin mining and Korean gymnastics. He loves to fully capitalise on a great film, by releasing soundtrack albums, merchandise and books. He has sold his films for international theatrical release to Miramax, Pathe, Sony Classics and Paramount, to name a few. John responded to Franny’s 30 second pitch for Crude with “Love it. Let’s do it.” Franny and John were determined to produce Crude/The Age of Stupid independently, in order to give them both full editorial freedom and complete control of the distribution. They came up with the “crowd-funding” film financing model. Essentially, ‘shares’ were sold to raise the budget, and all crew work at massively reduced rates to keep costs low - but they also received a percentage. This way the production could not only remain editorially and distributionarily independent, but any profits accrued would be shared amongst the people who made the film (the crew), the people who funded it (the investors), the organisations that supported it (the production companies) and the people in it (the stars). The first Funding Event was held in Dec 2004, offering 100 ‘shares’ of £500 each. In one of the most terrifying experiences of the film - scarier even than being held in a kidnap village in Nigeria - Franny stood up and explained the idea for the film to 30 punters in a screening room in Soho. They sold the first thirteen ‘shares’ that night, which put £17,500 in the kitty, more than enough for low-budget filmmakers to get started. One of the key advantages of crowd-funding, we later realised, is that you do not have to wait to secure a complete budget before you start. Franny was side-tracked for the first half of 2005 with re-editing her documentary McLibel to feature length for broadcast on BBC2, followed by UK and US theatrical releases. Lizzie Gillett had been working for Franny on other projects since 2002 but in Oct 2004 she joined the Stupid team. Starting as an admin assistant, she quickly made herself invaluable and eventually took over the day-to-day producing role, with John becoming the Executive Producer. In June, Franny and Lizzie bought a Sony Z1 HDV camera and set off to find their first character at the Paris Air Show. They were on a mission to find one of the new breed of Indian entrepreneurs busily starting up low-cost airlines. After several weeks of research, Jeh Wadia - a 33 year old Indian from a wealthy family launching a new airline called Go Air - became the firm favourite and was soon signed up. Over the next 15 months the pair travelled to 6 countries and found the stars of the film; Layefa in Nigeria, Fernand in the Alps, Piers in Cornwall, Jamila & Adnan in Jordan, Al in New Orleans and Jeh in India. They spent many weeks filming in each location, visiting each character between two and seven times over the next two years.
WHERE TRAFFIC WAS ABOUT DRUGS, CRUDE WOULD BE ABOUT OIL AND CLIMATE CHANGE.
The relentless filming schedule soon drained the bank balance, so Funding Round 2 was launched in Feb 2006, with 40 ‘shares’ of £5,000 each. More and more investors appeared from nowhere as word spread. Over the next two years, the 40 shares were gradually sold and the complee £450k raised. There are now 223 investors from the UK, Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Holland, Denmark and France. The investors each own a percentage of the film - as do the crew, who are working for massively reduced rates and will be paid once a year for ten years. In March 2007, Franny and editor David Hill (who had cut McLibel) emerged with a 90 minute rough cut which interwove the documentary stories, as planned. However, it was felt that the film wasn’t greater than the sum of its parts and that most of the themes were too subtle for the average viewer to fully appreciate. The production entered a dark few months of brainwracking until the idea eventually emerged to set the film in the future, with fictional character(s) observing the documentary characters from a distance, and reflecting on the barriers that stand in the way of us halting climate change. This also allowed the film to explicitly show what the future will be if we continue as we are. Over an intensive 4 month script-writing process this idea developed into a scenario in the year 2055, during apocalyptic runaway climate change, with two teenagers living in The Global Archive, a storage facility in the Arctic protecting all of humanities achievements from the ravages of climate change, in the hope that intelligent life might evolve - or arrive and be able to make use of what we have learned. The rough cut was tested to a select group of friends, investors and crew at the Curzon Soho Cinema in September 2007. Franny and Assistant Editor Andy (aged 35 and 42 respectively) played the teenagers in the future, as a stand-in test before proper actors were cast. In one of the low-points of the production, there was a largely negative reaction. So the teenagers got dumped. But the future idea was felt to be very strong, so, two days of brainstorming later, a variation was invented and subsequently tested. This time, Franny’s dad played an old man in the future. He represented the 30-something generation now, aged 70-something in 2055, looking back with sorrow and regret at everything they didn’t do to stop climate change. Rather than the next generation berating us for destroying the planet, this version was dramatically much more successful. Though Franny’s dad is no actor, the emotion of the scenario was plain for all to see. Franny’s all-time favourite actor, and the only person she would consider for the role of “The Archivist” is In The Name of the Father’s Pete Postlethwaite. Stephen Speilberg called him the “best actor in the world” and John had worked with him on a previous production and had got on famously. Franny googled “Pete Postelthwaite +climate change”, just in case, and was thrilled to find out that not only was Pete in the middle of a comprehensive eco-renovation of his house, including installing a home turbine, but that it is every single person’s responsibility to do what they can to stop climate change. On Dec 17 2007 at 3.27pm, Pete said ‘Yes’.
The drama scenes with Pete were shot on Jan 24th 2008, in a carpet warehouse in Willesden, hastily converted into a futuristic storage facility by production designer David Bryan and his team. Once it was decided that Pete would be looking through all of the media ever produced by humanity, the archive possibilities span out of control. We first approached ITN Source with a proposed deal whereby we had complete access to all their archive (which includes Reuters, Pathe and CBS), in exchange for a token upfront fee and a percentage of profits. Unbelievably, they said yes. We then headed to the BBC Motion Gallery, but were turned away, as the BBC would never agree to such a deal. Two days later, they got in touch to say that a big boss somewhere up the system had overruled their decision and we received our magic BBC login.
SHE DECIDED TO USE ANIMATED PIECES TO EXPLAIN KEY CONCEPTS AND BACKGROUND MATERIAL
Franny wanted to stay as far away from traditional documentary styling as possible. In particular, this meant no talking heads and no commentary (both rules were of course later broken, to a small extent). She decided to use animated pieces to explain key concepts and background material. As Pete would be pulling these animations from the archive, they needed to be a wide range of styles and tones, as though they’d come from a variety of sources. The production advertised for animators and soon had a team of 18 boys, all a little blue for lack of sunlight, beavering away mostly in their bedrooms, producing what became one of the film’s most impressive elements. For the music, the intention was always to write a Star Wars-esque orchestral score, which the composer, Chris Brierley, slightly balked out. So he came back with something better and then pulled together all his orchestral friends for a recording session in a donated studio that one of our investors happened to own. We also attempted to clear about 15 famous pop songs, but only succeeded with Just Cant Get Enough, Boots Are Made For Walking and Radiohead’s Reckoner. One of the first public sneak previews of the film was in the UK Parliament, where it was said by insiders to be the most well attended event apart from the Campaign for Real Ale launch (and they gave out free beer). It has since screened at the EU, Dutch, Welsh, and Scottish Parliaments and has screenings lined up with Kofi Annan’s Global Humanitarian Foundation (where he is hosting the panel debate), the WHO, Obama’s thinktank, the UN, the Edinburgh & London film festivals, and t he BBC. The Age of Stupid production is responsible for 94 tonnes of Co2.
A FRIGHTENING VISION: THE GLOBAL ARCHIVE>
NEWS OF THE WORLD
< MARCH 15 2009
FEBRUARY 18 2009 >
THE TIMES MARCH 19 2009 >
THE GUARDIAN < MARCH 16 2009
< MARCH 16 2009
FINANCIAL TIMES MARCH 19 2009 >
THE INDEPENDENT < MARCH 12 2009
MARCH 19 2009 >
< MARCH 13 2009
<JULY 17 2009
SIGHT & SOUND April 2009>
THE NEW YORK TIMES < July 17th 2009
SUNDAY STAR TIMES August 23rd 2009>
<August 31st 2009
HERALD ON SUNDAY
<August 23rd 2009
THE NY TIMES AUGUST 13 2009 ^
THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD <AUGUST 19 2009
THE LISTENER AUGUST 17 2009 >
THE COURIER MAIL AUGUST 17 2009 >
THE AGE <AUGUST 21 2009
EVENING STANDARD MARCH 19 2009
THE BIG ISSUE MARCH 16 2009 >
THE GUARDIAN FEBRUARY 28 2009 >
THE AGE OF STUPID (tbc) Franny Armstrong, UK, 2009 ✪✪✪✪✩ Here’s an interesting conceit. It’s 2055. There’s only one man left on Earth (Pete Postlethwaite), and the only reason he’s survived is because he’s the archivist of the human race. He pulls up on a screen fragments of film from the early 21st century that depict the events that led to humanity’s extinction. He calls this ‘the Age of Stupid’, asking why we didn’t do anything to stop the destruction of our world while we had the chance. But there’s no-one left to answer his far-from-rhetorical question. This scenario is fictional – for now – but the clips we’re shown are real documentary footage. Of the West’s excessive consumption of nonrenewable energy, the effect this is having on the natural world, and the small minority who are campaigning to reverse our seemingly inevitable demise. An inventive and entertaining way to present truths that only the stupid can ignore.
ishly sexy Louise Brooks in Pandora’s Box vies with Garbo’s The Temptress and others against a background of live scores from modern-day icons like Bishi, Broken Hearts DJs, Natalie Clein, The Monroe Transfer and violinist Alison Blunt. www.birds-eyeview.co.uk.
<VAMPIRE APRIL KILLERS 2009 LESBIAN (15) Phil Claydon, UK, 2009 While (perhaps mercifully) still under wraps at the time of going to press, DIVA couldn’t help drawing your attention to the imminent arrival of this new Brit flick, which seems to be going the Shaun of the Dead route, transposing zombies for, erm, lesbian vampires. The plot’s straight from an old Hammer Horror with two rubbish blokes, a cursed village, and an army of salacious lesbos on hand. With Gavin & Stacey stars James Corden and Mathew Horne as leads and a poster that screams ‘laddish comedy horror’, we’re not sure it2009 could> APRIL be anything other than drivel – though we’d love to be proved wrong. Ah well, boys will be boys.
WIN! DVD GIVEAWAY: Go to www.divamag. co.uk to win copies of Wire In The Blood Series Six
CULTURE APRIL 2009 >
FINANCIAL TIMES < 21 MARCH 2009
WORDS BRIONY HANSON, SARAH COHEN PHOTOS BLID ALSBIRK/ ENLIGHTENMENT FILMS; SODA PICTURES; DOGWOOF PICTURES
way Code isa Ray, left) na (Sheetal actise their gnal, re technique orld Unseen. ght: Barbara k and Fred ay play hide in Double y. endy Williams) t dibs on this nk Paper
novel by the film’s director, it’s a touch too Bridges of Madison County for its own good, but it’s possible to leave your cynicism at the door and enjoy the view – and, let’s be frank, Ray and Sheth certainly make for an eye-catching sight.
THE INDEPENDENT 10 MARCH 2009 >
< 28 MARCH 2009
AN INCONVENIENT POOF
Welcome to planet earth. In case of emergency, your exits are... f you were lying in the middle of a road on one side of a hill and there was a crowd of people on top of the hill screaming at you to get up because there was a truck about to race over the horizon and hit you, you’d get up, wouldn’t you? What if a couple of those people in the crowd – a very tiny minority - started saying ‘Nah, don’t get up. There’s no truck and even if a truck did ram into you at 60 miles an hour, it wouldn’t be that bad, you won’t get hurt…’ you might be a little confused. You’d wonder why some were saying it was coming and some that it wasn’t. But you’d still get up. You’d have to be pretty stupid not to, right? This is similar to the position all of us on this planet now find ourselves in with climate change. Scientists have been increasingly loudly telling us that the truck is just on the other side of the hill for more than two decades now, yet remarkably we are all refusing to get up or even listen, even now when the truck is speeding up. This month, a spectacularly important new film that everybody should see as a matter of urgency, asks how we can possibly be ignoring the warnings of the most senior scientists alive today. Directed by Franny Armstrong (incidentally the sister of Boo Armstrong who was vitally important in the setting up of Stonewall), it is set in the future, in 2055, post climatic meltdown, and stars Peter Postlethwaite as an archivist, based in the Arctic looking back at the news footage, events and warnings of 2008, asking how we ignored them. The film is called The Age of Stupid and it asks just that – are we too stupid to save ourselves? It’s not surprising that most of the public couldn’t care less about climate change. For years, the world’s biggest polluters have funded public relations groups and ‘think tanks’ that have bombarded the media with messages playing on journalist’s misconceptions in order to confuse the public. It sounds fanciful until you remember the same tactics were used by the tobacco industry when they wheeled out scientists willing to testify that smoking was good for you and, even in the 90s, that passive smoking could not give you cancer. Their job is to create doubt, subdue public opinion and postpone action that would restrict the activities of the biggest polluters. It is clearly working. Denying the fatal nature of smoking and sending millions of individuals to painful deaths is one horrific thing, but climate change is set, as NASA say, to change this planet into one different from the one that human civilisation evolved upon. NASA’s head climatologist James Hansen has even called for CEO’s of some of these energy companies to be tried for crimes against humanity for intentionally
misleading the public. (For more info on this, check heatisonline.org and read Boiling Point by Ross Gelbspan. Check out this report from the BBC’s Newsnight http://tinyurl.com/av4doa and look up ‘James Hansen’ on youtube.com) Public opinion is crucial when it comes to getting real change and at the moment the public seems to be completely in the dark, still more concerned with who will win Big Brother or The X Factor. Ask yourself – do you know, for example, where Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard, Yale Universities, the Met Office, New Scientist, the highest academies of the G8 nations, Stephen Hawking and David Attenborough all stand on climate change science?
labelled as a hysteric doom monger. Yet the media doesn’t hesitate to use hysterical doom mongering language when it comes to the economy even though the former head of the World Bank Sir Nicholas Stern says the economic disruption of climate change will be far worse than the current situation. There is now no higher scientific body left to ring the alarm bell but we still refuse to wake up. When climate change does become so disastrous it finally regularly usurps celebrity tit and arse from the front pages of the media, it will be too late. At that point, there will be no planetary bail out that can save us. Whatever you think based on whatever you have read in the media, you need to listen not to the Daily Mail, or Attitude, or any media organisation for that matter, when it comes to this issue, but to the scientists. Bare this in mind - if you were lying on that road and were absolutely convinced that there was no truck coming, maybe you’d be right and maybe you’d be wrong. But you would at least get up and check and find out for yourselves, just to be on the safe side, wouldn’t you? You know what you’d be if you didn’t… If you care about yourself or your family and friends then you must see this film. The Age of Stupid premieres in various local cinemas on 15 March and on 20 March at the cinemas below. www. www.ageofstupid.net Read The Hot Topic by Sir David King and Gabrielle Walker and The Vanishing Face of Gaia by James Lovelock. Watch An Inconvenient Truth on DVD. News at heatisonline.org and www.dailyclimate.org
D I P U T S O O T ARE WE
? S E V L E S R U O TO SAVE Answer: They all agree it is man made and a majorly serious threat to us all. Most of us seem to blindly think that this is just a far off threat that future generations will have to deal with but not so. Scientists are alarmed that the planet is changing faster than they had predicted. For instance after the record, gob smacking, Arctic ice melt in 2007, some scientists now predict the complete disappearance of the summer ice by 2015, something that even a few years ago wasn’t expected to happen until around 2100. This is a truly disastrous prospect. Being white and massive, the Arctic ice helps keep the planet cool in the summer by reflecting 80% of the sunlight back into space. With it gone, the dark ocean will absorb 80% of that energy, further increasing the rate at which the planet heats. You may have already tuned out from this article. So successful is the spin that often anyone talking or writing about climate change as a serious threat as the UK’s former Chief Scientist Sir David King did when he said ‘climate change is the biggest threat mankind has ever consciously faced’ is
THE AGE OF STUPID PLAYS AT THESE CINEMAS FROM 20 MARCH: • Chapter Cinema, Cardiff www.chapter.org/cinema/index.htm • Filmhouse, Edinburgh www.filmhousecinema.com • Eden Court Theatre, Inverness www.eden-court.co.uk • Glasgow Film Theatre www.gft.org.uk/content • Watershed, Bristol www.watershed.co.uk • Queen’s Film Theatre, Belfast www.queensfilmtheatre.com • Showroom, Shefﬁeld www.showroom.org.uk/ • Odeon Panton Street, Leicester Square, London www.odeon.co.uk/fanatic/film_times/s117/Panton_St
• Rich Mix, Bethnal Green, London www.richmix.org.uk • The Tricycle Theatre, Kilburn, London www.tricycle.co.uk
ThE X-FAcTOR LIvE TOUR
Whether you were a fan of Alexandra from the start or still think Ruth was robbed, you can catch all your faves on the obligatory tour. All the usual suspects are touring around the UK until the 23rd of March when it wraps in Cardiff. Tops off, JLS please! For all the dates check out http://xfactor.itv.com/tour.htm
< APRIL 2009
THE AGE OF STUPID
Released: 20 March Certificate: TBC Running time: 85 mins Director: Franny Armstrong Writer: Franny Armstrong Starring: Pete Postlethwaite
patience, there’s enough to enjoy on the journey for From the not-so-far future, Pete Postlethwaite first-time feature director Gerald McMorrow to keep shakes his head and sighs… us firmly engaged throughout. The lack of information most people The mega-hyped film makes its Although everyone acquits themselves well, not have about global warming is release date after legal proceedings least the ever-watchable Green and the slightly wet a documentary about climate change HHH One of the most were met from a rival studio. The MARCH 2009 > Riley,astounding. it’s McMorrow who’s the real star here. Hisadaptation(basically, it’s bad, our fault, and we have to do important films you can see this year, of the acclaimed graphic Meanwhile City,ofits intricate rising up something about it now or we’ll all die), The The Age Stupid starsarchitecture Pete novel features sexy Jeffrey Dean Ambitious, audience-teasing and gloriously towards infinity likeina nightmarish super-Cambridge, AgeCrudup of Stupid is Patrick built around six strands, each Postlethwaite 2050 as a man Morgan, Billy and good looking, Franklyn tries too hard, but it’s a is a remarkable creation, least at ground one illustrating part of the overall picture: a looking back askingnot ‘Why didn’t we level, Wilson. Are tights going to be seriously impressive debut. when we were population give featured prominently? all kindstries of to set up India’s first wheredo thesomething milling, bizarrely-dressed rich fella inFor Mumbai A must-see. cinemas go airline; to www. a British chap tries to build a it the warned?’ feel of Hellboy II’s TrollInMarket, or 20 perhapsonline goodies budget watchmenmovie.co.uk Terry March. Gilliam’swww.ageofstupid.net Some filmS – such as Jacob’s Ladder or Donnie Brazil. The Meanwhile scenes make wind farm in the face of much local opposition; Darko – are at their best if you approach them cold. up only 20% of the film, but give a sense of scale a French mountain guide watches his beloved utterly out of proportion with its meagre budget. And so it is with Franklyn, an impressive, ambitious glacier slowly melt. This is a £6million movie that manages to convince blend of British real-world drama and Guillermo Linking all this, and bringing it into Death us that it’s worth five times as much. del Toro-style fantasy that weaves four seemingly Ray territory, is a DID YOU KNOW? unrelated story lines into a ‘So that’s what it was all Franklyn is not without its problems, however. framing sequence Many have compared this about!’ whole. Ryan Phillippe is a tad one-note, and keeping your in which Pete The classic film was simply begging film to An Inconvenient toTruth be turned In modern London, lanky graphic designer Milo star masked throughout is at best a bold decision. Postlethwaite watches , but The into Age ofa musical and it has. The musical finally (Sam Riley from Control, retaining his upturned And the forbidding structure will scare a few people from 2055, apparently Stupid is actually much hits British shores withofaaslew of classic more grass-roots green songs fans of a lot 2009 to take in, and you may lose collars) has just been jilted before his wedding, but < off. the last man on Earth. 21 There’s MARCH movement it was the film willfilm: recognise. Perfect for a patience with Franklyn’s tricksy nature long before while moping about catches glimpses of a red-haired From his bolt-hole in ‘crowd-funded’ 223 Mamma Mia! sing-a-long tobyrival girl from his past. Elsewhere in town, Eva Green’s it finally tips us the wink. Having the focus split so a giant storage facility individuals and groups. Previews start 10 March. damaged, sexy art student channels Helen Bonham evenly between four such self-obsessed characters located in a watery www.priscillathemusical.com Carter while toying with the idea of suicide, and pious can make it difficult to know exactly who we’re Arctic, he shakes his head at our stupidity. Peter Esser (Bernard Hill) is newly arrived, searching meant to care about too. The picture the film builds is a complex one, for his estranged ex-soldier son. Quite how these All of which sounds far too moany, because I was missing the face-to-face conflict of a Michael three are connected is unclear, but throw into the seriously impressed by Franklyn. Getting the tone Moore film (director Franny Armstrong is an mix a fourth strand in which Ryan Phillippe’s masked of this thing right would certainly challenge invisible presence) but enlivened by some vigilante Jonathan Preest – think Rorschach meets anybody, and it’s to McMorrow’s credit that he’s neat animated sequences and some sub-Doctor V, with a bit of Dean Motter’s Mister X thrown in ambitious enough to try, and clearly so technically Who special effects. Stupid was made for a tiny – prowls a vast, gothic metropolis called Meanwhile capable. Franklyn seems destined to become a cult amount of money, £450,000, and occasionally City, and you see the potential for major confusion. film that will frustrate some, delight others, but seems to veer into what for many will be an Indeed, we’re over halfway through before the links impress andRed McMorrow’s very off-putting anti-capitalist position, but it’s Theeveryone, tradition of Nose Day ishas a much a start to properly emerge, and though this tries the namevery to watch. Matt Bielby event for 2009. undeniably powerful stuff, and timely. Matt Bielby special television
Released: Out now Certificate: 15 Running time: 97 mins Director: Gerald McMorrow Writer: Gerald McMorrow Starring: Eva Green, Ryan Phillippe, Sam Riley, Bernard Hill, Art Malik
ThE AgE OF STUPId
PRIScILLA, QUEEN OF ThE dESERT ThE MUSIcAL
cOMIc RELIEF: FUNNy FOR MONEy
Airing on BBC One and Two, Funny For Money is hosted by David Tennant and Fearne Cotton among others and features the last ever (!) French & Saunders parody. A telethon that actually is worth watching as well. Who knew! For all the Red Nose Day APRIL/MAYevents 2009 > go to www.rednoseday.com
Future Writ Large From church halls to The White House, The Age Of Stupid is aiming its eco-consicous message far and wide. Stephen Applebaum talks to the director
l Gore educated audiences about the mechanics of climate change in the Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth. With the theory in place, The Age Of Stupid, the ambitious new film from McLibel director Franny
PHOTO: SPANNER FILMS
Director Franny Armstrong is hoping that The Age Of Stupid will turn viewers into activists
23 MARCH 2009 >
March 23 - 29 2009 www.bigissue.com | 19
PHOTOS: SPANNER FILMS
Fifty years from now in The Age Of Stupid
Armstrong, now shows us what lies ahead if we do not act quickly to significantly reduce carbon emissions. The film is a passionate wake-up call, designed not only to inform and warn but to galvanise. Armstrong’s dream is that The Age Of Stupid will turn their target of 250 million viewers into activists who will pressure their governments to “make the right deal” at December’s UN climate talks in Copenhagen. She knows it is a big ask. But if we do not change our ways within a generation, says the dynamic 35-year-old, “then it’s all over... I wouldn’t want to be the one that says, ‘It is impossible, therefore don’t try.’” According to the film, our current behaviour is suicidal. Unless we reduce our reliance on oil, we could be walking towards extinction. Images of London under water and Las Vegas buried beneath sand may seem farfetched to some, but what about Sydney Opera House engulfed by flames? Or in light of the global financial crisis, the film’s claim that “you can’t have an ever-expanding economy on just the one planet”? That looked like a radical point to the film-makers last June. “Now it seems a bit old hat,” Armstrong admits. The film’s apocalyptic predictions need not all come true. And, encouragingly, people outside the environmental movement and NGOs are realising that something can, and must, be done. Speaking ahead of the movie’s ecofriendly ‘people’s premiere’ on March 15, Armstrong says, “The number of people who phone us every day and email saying, ‘I will do anything I can to help you, I’m so happy you’re doing this’ – I’ve never felt this kind of level of energy before.’ Call it the ‘Barack Obama effect’. The fact that [Bush’s] administration was run by oil men, you felt like that was forever. Now suddenly it’s all changed. And when these things do change, they happen very quickly. So personally I’m feeling quite optimistic.” The idea that we are all in this together has informed the project on various levels. Firstly, the film was financed through an initiative called ‘crowd funding’, whereby members of the public were offered opportunities to buy shares in the film. Now Armstrong is 20 | www.bigissue.com March 23 - 29 2009
The Age Of Stupid gauges the effect of climate change for people around the world
circumventing traditional distribution models by retaining the rights to the film so that anyone will be able to come to their website and apply to organise their own ‘indie screening’ of The Age Of Stupid. “They’ll pay a licence fee, which will be on a sliding scale depending on whether they are Shell wanting to screen it at their AGM, or the local Huddersfield branch of Friends Of The Earth wanting to screen it in their church hall,” she explains. “And then, crucially, they will hold a screening, sell tickets, and keep the money for themselves.” The aim is to get the film’s message out to as broad a spectrum of viewers as possible (Obama’s people and Prince Charles have, apparently, already asked to see the movie). This explains why Armstrong, widely regarded as a maverick, has hooked-up with the Oscarwinning producer John Battsek (One Day In September), to get The Age Of Stupid to the multiplexes. “If you’re going to make a film about climate change you have to reach outside the normal constituency,” says Armstrong. “And that’s been his role, really, the bridge to the mainstream.”
“Nothing other than ideas and emotions can change the world” Back when the idea for The Age Of Stupid was conceived, Armstrong thought she would have to spend a lot of screen time explaining climate change. A few years later, however, An Inconvenient Truth came along and did the job for her. This freed her up to create something less technical, more human and empathetic. Over a period of 15 months, she and executive producer Lizzie Gillett travelled to six countries collecting real-life stories to illustrate the extent and effects of our love affair with oil. The characters that emerged comprise a wealthy entrepreneur from Mumbai who is trying to start-up a new lowcost airline; two Iraqi children in Jordan who lost their father during the US-led invasion in 2003; a young woman from a poor Nigerian village where Shell extracts millions of dollars’ worth of oil every week, without giving anything back to the local community; an octogenarian mountain guide who has
witnessed the Alpine glaciers melt by 150 metres; a windfarm developer from Cornwall fighting the NIMBYs of middle England; and a paleontologist helping Shell to find oil off the coast of New Orleans who rescued more than 100 people in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. When the links between these people’s stories proved too subtle for audiences at early test screenings in 2007, Armstrong came up with the idea of setting part of the film in 2055. The planet has been devastated by climate change and the last man on Earth (Pete Postlethwaite) lives in a vast archive in the Arctic, where he peruses old TV news reports and the stories collected by the filmmakers, and sadly wonders why we didn’t do more to save ourselves. We do still have time, of course. And this is the point. But the film, which raises lots of difficult questions whilst deliberately not providing any answers, makes it clear just how complex the issue is and how many hurdles there are to overcome, including human characteristics such as apathy, selfishness and denial. “We can’t hope to change human nature – certainly not before Copenhagen, anyway,” laughs Armstrong. “But we're talking about our species being wiped out, so we’ve got to use every part of our ingenuity.” Thus they decided from the get-go that The Age Of Stupid had to be a truly cinematic experience, with pop songs, an orchestral score, animation and humour, and stories about engaging characters. “That’s the key, really. It’s all about the human drama.” Does she believe a film can change the world? “There’s nothing other than ideas and emotions that can change the world,” says Armstrong. “And in terms of what is the best way for independent people to get ideas out into the world to hundreds of millions of people, with a big impact, I think independent documentaries are currently the number one way.” Just imagine, a trip to the multiplex could become the first step towards saving the planet. That has got to be worth the price of a ticket. The Age Of Stupid is out now. Find out more at www.ageofstupid.net
The Age of STupid RELEASED March 20 DIRECTED BY Franny Armstrong STARRING Pete Postlethwaite, Piers Guy
Nothing promotes apathy quite like being preached at, so it’s great to find that the latest ‘captivating’ and ‘powerful’ eco-documentary, The Age of Stupid, is actually a captivating and powerful piece of filmmaking as well as a call-toarms to help the planet. Taking a look at our current devil-maycare attitude to climate change from a fictional 2055, Pete Postlethwaite plays an archivist at the helm of a deserted futuristic museum (or maybe mausoleum would be more apt) of the human race, hoofing around on his own while the planet disintegrates around him. He delves into the video vaults to compile the case
094 THE LET THE RIGHT ONE IN ISSUE
for the prosecution in a trial that pits our current destructive indifference against the environmental havoc that will ensue unless we get our heads out of our proverbial behinds and halt climate change. Pete’s ‘archive footage’ is all genuine, gleaned from recent news items or filmed by director Franny Armstrong and her crew, putting the climate change argument out there with real people. There’s the Indian businessman bringing low-cost air travel to the working classes despite the pollution; the Hurricane Katrina survivor who earned a living in the oil industry; and the Nigerian living with the after-effects of Shell Oil on her country.
It’s hard to decide whether the grim fate that awaits us if we don’t act is more shocking than the excuses we find not to do anything. Take Piers and Lisa, two renewable-energy champions who initially come across as middleclass do-gooders, but whose plight to install a wind farm in their rural village is opposed by their neighbours, blind to the fact that their beautiful country views can only be preserved by the odd wind turbine on the horizon. These people are unbelievable. Interspersed with some natty animation, The Age of Stupid manages to blend the factual with the emotional without ever
feeling too earnest or didactic. The only problem for the film could be that it may only reach the converted – the kind of audience who pay to see an independent eco-documentary – rather than the masses. Laura Bushell
Anticipation. Al Gore taught us the climate change facts, but this mixture of fiction, documentary and animation looks far more interesting. Enjoyment. Thoughtfully put together and well researched, it’s incredibly interesting as well as being, well, a bit terrifying. In Retrospect. Very persuasive and engaging, let’s hope it reaches a big audience.
selves of the authenticity & bona fides of any editorial or advertising they respond to. @ Anti-copyright. Green Events 2009. ISSN # 1477-4909. Please feel free to copy and redistribute this material provided that you credit the source. Consuming Green Events by itself does not constitute a balanced diet. Green Events is a member of INK, the Independent News Collective, trade association of the UK alternative press. www.ink.uk.com
Cover Image: Going Medieval at Wild Heart Gathering See Highlights pg 4.
But is it really? As Dawkins explains in his seminal ‘The Selfish Gene’ survival depends as much on cooperation as on competition. In fact if a species is too aggressive it quickly exhausts its environment and precipitates its own demise. A danger we face if we continue to blindly embrace the capitalist model. Last month I attended the launch of the CoOperative Society’s new advertising campaign and became further convinced that there is a way of doing business that does not require wrecking the planet and destroying lives and communities for the much vaunted ‘greater good’ of the capitalist model. Their banking section is currently riding high with record new accounts and deposits during 2008. Though they readily admit that much of this is a flight to safety away from discredited institutions such as Northern Rock and RBS, it is a fact that their sound policies have left them unexposed to
money so that they could survive and revive to swindle us another day. It would have been enough, in my opinion, for the government to guarantee our savings and insure our mortgages.The banks and the corporations themselves should then have been allowed to follow their own dictums and gone down us unfit to survive, proving themselves to be what they truly are – an evolutionary dead end which should be allowed to become extinct before they drag the rest of us and the planet down with them. During Argentina’s economic collapse, workers moved quickly to set up coops to maintain the businesses that their capitalist owners abandoned as they withdrew their funds abroad. Many of these businesses continue and thrive to this day.Which just proves the capitalists need us more than we need them. Peter McCaig
What happens if the Earth bites back? Premiered in late March in a solar-powered tent in Leicester Square, this year’s ‘must-see’ eco-doc is the new cinema documentary from Director Franny Armstrong of McLibel fame The Age of Stupid. Billed as this year’s The Inconvenient Truth, the film stars Oscar-nominated In the name of the father star Pete Postlethwaite transmitting a ‘cautionary tale’ from his secure storage facility in a climate changeinduced post-apocalyptic arctic wasteland. Living alone in the devastated world of 2055, the old man looks through archive news footage and asks: “why didn’t we stop climate change when we had the chance?” This narrative is interspersed with the real-life stories of six characters, including an Indian low-cost airline entrepreneur, a former Shell Oil scientist who loses everything to Hurricane Katrina, and fisherwoman trying to eek out an existence in the environmentally-ravaged Niger Delta. Director Armstrong, who teamed up with the Oscar-winning producer of ‘One day in September’ John Battsek to create ‘an ethical film that could go mainstream’ says we must either seriously tackle climate change or wipe out most life on Earth. “Our film is about denial. We know the facts, but we don’t change. And that’s the challenge: to look past our own needs,” she says. The independently ‘crowd-funded’ film (producers raised £450, 000 by selling shares) revolves around the central premise that we don’t, for some reason, think ourselves important enough to save or simply feed
ourselves the myth that everything is alright. At once enjoyable, confronting, and thought-provoking, it is also concerning, at a times heartwrenching, filled with scenes which will no doubt induce strong emotional reactions that will surely resonate. If you’re left with a sense of ‘so now what?’, and don’t be surprised if you are, try the bestseller The Selfish Capitalist by Oliver James (ISBN 978-0-09-192416-4,Vermilion), or Rudolf Steiner’s classic Spiritual Ecology (ISBN 978-1-85584-204-5, Rudolf Steiner Press) to learn more about what compels individuals to seemingly ignore what is a direct threat to human survival. www.ageofstupid.net Luke McCormick
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the same time explaining how to have a wellstocked organic larder that is as easy on your conscience as it is on your wallet. For inspiration in the kitchen, her seasonal recipes will provide all the encouragement you need, and are not your usual organic
Guide To Ethical, Organic, Whole and Healthy Food Judith Wills (Eden Project Books, £15)
The Age of Stupid Franny Armstrong (Spanner Films) I’m sorry, I’m going to gush: this film is a fantastic achievement. In a remote Arctic library, in a climate-ruined 2055, an archivist (Pete Postlethwaite) sits down amid the collected remnants of civilisation to create a memoir using footage from the ‘past’ 50 years. This framework allows director Armstrong (of McLibel fame) to tell six different, bang-up-to-date climate change stories – including that of an oil worker whose home was decimated in Hurricane Katrina; that of Jeh, founder of India’s first low-cost airline, and that of Piers, a wind farm developer trying to live sustainably. Interspersed with animated sequences detailing everything from consumerism to the Iraq war, the film builds a picture of climate change that simply couldn’t be told through any other medium. In some inspired footage, the director allows anti-wind farm campaigners to explain why they object to a new development, shortly before their town is flooded in last year’s unseasonal summer weather. Sure it’s not absolutely perfect: Postlethwaite’s dialogue is a little overwrought and his dystopian setting over-egged, but hell – Al Gore won an Oscar for interspersing a slide show with shots of himself in a plane with a laptop. This film knocks spots off An Inconvenient Truth and well deserves the cinema release its crew are hoping for. Mark Anslow Not yet on general release. For the latest information, see www.crudemovie.net
the old, the relic of a previous age. ‘Itelmen’ means ‘human being’, and they describe themselves as ‘native inhabitants of dry land’. By tradition they were fishermen, fur-hunters and renowned herbalists. The language appears to be an isolate, unrelated to any other tongue. Itelmen’s grammar is intricate, with a 12-case structure and complex consonantal clusters. The beginnings and endings of words alter depending on person, tense, mood and so on. It also includes a vowel sound unfamiliar to us: schwa. There is much reduplication in the language: for example the words atx-atx – ‘light’ – and silq-silq< – ‘meat with berries’, MARCH 2009 a staple in those latitudes. Another factor in the decline of Itelmen has been its readiness to absorb loan-words and ideas from other languages, a sort of verbal counterpart of the intermarriage that has occurred. This linguistic evolution swiftly becomes erosion if the outside forces are stronger than a language’s own centre of gravity. Sadly, it seems the shazki (stories) of these people will be absorbed into the silence of history. David Hawkins
THE ECOLOGIST MARCH 2009 >
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w n pid is the ne Postlethwaite as a ma ’ tu S f o e g A e see Th (McLibel). It stars Pete of 2055, looking at ‘old Armstrong the devastated world n’t we stop climate in did living alone 2008 and asking, why ek ’s release e w t s ir f e h m t footage fro we had the chance? If re cinemas. It all n mo e h to s. change w ill expand w m il f ke 10 friend et e a t h t o , s s , s s e t c c ip e u e r ec is a s pid.n the box of fic March. w w w.ageofstu n o s d n e p e d h as from 20t In UK cinem er-Up smetics Cov EN) o C e h t g in d Net work (W ar t of its En Click Atshpe Women’s Environmenlitnael checklist showing l lly harmfu campaign, Careful Beaut y, an on ia t n te o p e v a d has launche ies’ beaut y products h n.org.uk where you an p .we m which co ore at w w w rmation. m t u o d in F fo . ingredients load factsheets and in n w o d can also g schemes in r a h -s d n la carce, wing land s h a patch of green. o r g d o o g h do Wit ould-be veg growers wit landscape’ on page 64. ible can link w your own ed te a e r c to See ‘How
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THE TIMES MAGAZINE APRIL 2009
20 MARCH 2009 >
CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS 48 flights, 124,000 miles Food for 1,277 meals Train trips, 23,612 miles Boat trips, 497 miles Cameras, computers, tapes, CDs etc Heating two offices ( pretty cold) 2 helicopter flights, 105 minutes Car trips, 2400 miles Tubes & buses, 1,480 miles Bicycle & walking trips,13,100 miles Electricity (green supplier)
68,100 Kg C02 3,400 KgC02 4,100 Kg C02 3,200 Kg C02 2,800 Kg C02 1,100 Kg CO2 735 Kg C02 740 Kg C02 95 Kg C02 0 Kg C02 0 Kg C02
EQUIVALENT TO: > 8 British people for 1 year > 4 American people for 1 year > 1000 Tanzanians people for 1 year > 91 people living sustainably for 1 year > 1 of Piers’ big turbines for 6 days > Recycling 910,000 bottles > 15 British homes for 1 year > 18 American cars for 1 year > 185 gas patio-heaters for one month
TOTAL 94,270kg CO2
THE £450K BUDGET WAS RAISED BY SELLING SHARES TO PEOPLE WHO CARE ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE
The film is “crowd-funded”. Meaning we raised the cash by selling “shares”to 223 individuals and groups. The groups range from a hockey team and a women’s health centre. This is mostly to give it the best chance of reaching a mainstream multiplex audience, but also to retain complete editorial control. The £450k budget for The Age of Stupid was raised by selling ‘shares’ to people who care about climate change. These investors all own a percentage of the film - as do the crew, who are working for massively reduced rates. If the film makes as much money as Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 - admittedly the biggest grossing documentary of all time - an initial £500 investment would recoup about £60,000. On the other hand, if it makes as much as Franny’s film Drowned Out, a £500 investment would recoup only £50. But whatever the film’s box office take, every investor in The Age of Stupid will know that they have supported a film that will hopefully be a significant landmark in the ongoing battle against climate change.
DIRECTOR FRANNY ARMSTRONG Franny’s first documentary, McLibel (1997, 2005), told the inside story of the infamous McDonald’s libel trial. Filmed over ten years with no commission, no budget and a voluntary crew including Ken Loach, who directed the courtroom reconstructions - it shot to notoriety after getting stopped by lawyers at first BBC1 and then Channel 4 on its first release in 1997. Eight years later after the ‘McLibel Two’ had defeated the British government at the European Court of Human Rights - it was finally broadcast on BBC2, to excellent viewing figures (1 million at 10.30pm on Sunday) and fantastic reviews. It was then broadcast on TV in 15 countries - including Australia, Canada & America - and released on DVD worldwide. Cinema Libre distributors released McLibel in American cinemas and DVD stores in Summer 2005 and Revelation followed in the UK in 2006. McLibel was nominated for (but never won) numerous awards, including the Grierson Documentary Award and the British Independent Film Awards.
It was recently picked as one of only two UK films in the the British Film Institute’s prestigious series, Ten Documentaries Which Changed The World (the other being no less than Michael Buerk’s Ethopia report, which led to Live Aid). Franny’s second feature doc, Drowned Out (2002), follows an Indian family who choose to stay at home and drown rather than make way for the Narmada Dam. It too sold to TV round the world, was nominated for ‘Best Documentary’ at the British Independent Film Awards 2004 and was released theatrically in America and on DVD worldwide in 2006. With zero backing from the UK TV industry, Franny’s films have been seen by more than 56 million people.
REVIEWS “An irresistible David and Goliath tale...you can’t help but cheer along” Seattle Times “Truly, hilariously dramatic” San Francisco Weekly on McLIBEL “Instructive, exciting and often hilarious.... first-rate” The Observer on McLIBEL “More rousing than anything Hollywood could come up with.” Channel 4 on McLIBEL “The sort of film Michael Moore probably thinks he makes” Sunday Times on McLIBEL “Absolutely unmissable” The Guardian on McLIBEL “Edge of the seat stuff. Terrific.” BBC on McLIBEL “Angry, compassionate, disturbing and yet empowering” Time Out on DROWNED OUT “Documentaries rarely, if ever, come better than this” Bermuda Royal Gazette on DROWNED OUT “A beacon to the grassroots filmmaking community” International Doc Mag on FRANNY “In a few years time, Franny Armstrong [will be] being discussed as one of the key documentary film-makers of our generation” DVD Outsider “Insatiable... inspiring... revolutionary.... your hero” Channel 4 on FRANNY
FILMOGRAPHY THE AGE OF STUPID 2004-2008
Pete Postlethwaite stars in this ambitious documentary set in the future, looking back at us now and asking: why didn’t we stop climate change when we had the chance? MCLIBEL 2005, 75 mins
Updated and extended version of McLibel released theatrically in the US, UK, Austria. Broadcast on BBC4 and BBC2 in 2005. Has also sold to 33 TV stations around the world. THE DAMMED 2003, 45 mins
Shorter, updated Drowned Out, made for PBS and sold worldwide. DROWNED OUT 2002, 75 mins
An Indian family choose to drown rather than make way for the Narmada Dam. Also being released theatrically in the US and on DVD worldwide. Screened on Al Jazeera International Feb 2007. BAKED ALASKA 2001, 26 mins
America’s coldest state is warming ten times faster than the rest of the world. So why drill for more oil under the ice? Sold to TVworldwide (and continuing to sell well). Winner of many festival awards.
A RACIST FORCE 2000, 15 mins
One year after the British police were branded “institutionally racist”, we ask: has anything changed? MCLIBEL 1997, 52 mins
The inside story of the postman and the gardener who took on McDonald’s in England’s longest ever court trial. Sold to 12 terrestrial TV stations. Theatrical release in Australia. 26 million viewers and counting.
PRODUCER JOHN BATTSEK John Battsek has probably produced more feature documentaries than anybody in the UK. His most famous is ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER (1999), the Oscar-winning feature length doc about the tragic events of the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. At last year’s Sundance Festival, John launched three new feature documentaries, MY KID COULD PAINT THAT , CROSSING THE LINE and IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON , securing distribution deals worth more than 4 million dollars. In 2006, John’s film about the New York Cosmos soccer team, ONCE IN A LIFETIME was released to ecstatic reviews by Miramax and Pathe, with a book and soundtrack album released alongside. John has also produced LIVE FOREVER (2001), GAME OF THEIR LIVES (2002), ‘State of Mind’ (2003), PEACE ONE DAY (2004), ONCE IN A LIFETIME (2006) and two movies - THE SERPENT’S KISS (1996) and LILA SAYS (2004). As well as their feature documentaries, Passion Pictures is regarded as one of the leading animation studios in Europe, with 40 workstations at it’s Central London base making it one of the biggest computer character studios in Britain.
REVIEWS “Vivid and compelling stuff. A highly dramatic story, told with great cinematic flair and force” ID Magazine on ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER “A sizzling documentary” The Observer on ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER ‘’Will leave you spellbound for a scintillating 90 minutes’’ Time Out on ONCE IN A LIFETIME “Hugely entertaining film...Shoots and Scores’’
THRILLING. YOU’D BE ABSOLUTELY CRAZY TO MISS ONE OF THE BEST DOCUMENTARIES IN YEARS ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER
The Guardian on ONCE IN A LIFETIME “The story unfolds at a cracking pace. And what a story it is” The Observer on ONCE IN A LIFETIME ‘”The month’s most thrilling film... a riveting story of big egos, rivalry and bad behaviour...a perfectly executed film.” Mariella Frostrup, Harpers Bazaar on ONCE IN A LIFETIME
NEWS OF WORLD>
FILMOGRAPHY THE AGE OF STUPID 2004-2008 Executive Producer Pete Postlethwaite stars in this ambitious documentary set in the future, looking back at us now and asking: why didnâ€™t we stop climate change when we had the chance? MY KID COULD PAINT THAT 2007 Executive producer The story of a precocious 4-year-old artist. Premiered at Sundance 2007. Sold to Sony. CROSSING THE LINE 2006 Executive Producer The clandestine life of a US serviceman who defected to North Korea at the height of the Cold War. Premiered at Sundance 2007. Sold to Think Film. ONCE IN A LIFETIME: THE EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF THE NEW YORK COSMOS 2006 Producer The story of the American Dream colliding with the Global Game. Premiered at Berlin 2006. Sold to Pathe and Miramax. Soundtrack album and book released. IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON 2006 Executive Producer Exploring the history of the US space programme. Premiered at Sundance 2007 where it won the World Cinema Audience Award. Sold to Think Film. BLACK SUN 2005 Producer A poetic meditation on an extraordinary life without vision. Premiered at Sundance 2007. Sold to BBC &HBO. Limited theatrical release. BAFTAnominated. LIVE FOREVER 2003 Producer Charts the rise and fall of Britpop via the heroes of this 90s music scene. Soundtrack album and book released. THE GAME OF THEIR LIVES 2002 Executive Producer The story of the 1966 North Korean football team who knocked tournament favorites, Italy, out of the World Cup finals in England. ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER 1999 Producer The tragic story of the 11 Israeli athletes who died at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Won the 2000 Academy Award for Best Documentary and the Emmy for Best Historical Documentary.
QUOTES “The stakes are very, very high. They’re through the roof. So when I looked at the subject and what the film is trying to do, there was no option really. I had to do it.” PETE POSTLETHWAITE
“This film’s not quite as big as Jurassic Park, but it’s lovely to be on a set where people really want to be there and are committed to what they’re doing.” PETE POSTLETHWAITE
“Four years is pretty long to make a single documentary, but in terms of the task in hand - preventing the extinction of our species forever - it doesn’t seem too bad a use of our time.” FRANNY ARMSTRONG
“Age of Stupid is the most ambitious film I’ve been involved with to date. Filmed over four years, five central characters, an on-screen narrator plus a huge animation element, it is a credit to all the team that, despite the many challenges combining all these elements, the film successfully carries the intended message. ” JOHN BATTSEK