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For the greater good: ‘Before the Flood’ to release ahead of US elections

The actor previously made documentaries, including Virunga and The Ivory Game, on environmental issues. PHOTO: FILE

The actor previously made documentaries, including Virunga and The Ivory Game, on environmental issues.

TORONTO: Actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio said he rushed to release his upcoming climate change documentary Before the Flood ahead of the US presidential elections in November, to issue a clarion call to voters and influence their decisions.

“We wanted this film to come out before the next election because the US is the largest contributor to this issue,” DiCaprio said, following the film’s premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. “We cannot afford, at this critical moment in time, to have leaders in office that do not believe in the modern science of climate change,” he added.

The film follows the Oscar-winning DiCaprio and actor-cum-film-maker Fisher Stevens as they travel from Canada’s oil sands to tiny Pacific islands. In the process, they interview world leaders such as the Catholic Church’s Pope Francis and current US President Barack Obama, climate scientists and academics.

DiCaprio’s interview subjects discuss and document the negative impacts of industrialisation and increasing consumption on the health of the planet. “The fact that we are still debating any of this is just utter insanity to me,” DiCaprio said.

The actor, who won an Academy Award earlier this year for playing a fur trapper battling nature’s elements in The Revenant, was an executive producer on 2014 Oscar-nominated documentaryVirunga. The film shed light on threatened gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This year, he is an executive producer on Netflix documentary The Ivory Game, about Africa’s illegal ivory trade, which is also making its debut at the festival.

Before the Flood will be out in New York and Los Angeles theatres on October 21 and then, be aired on National Geographic globally on October 30. It calls out the sizable minority of Republican lawmakers who flatly deny the broad, scientific evidence that human activity is causing environmental damage and even names presidential candidate Donald Trump and former candidates Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. It seeks to effect a balance between making clear that the earth is facing a massive danger while also offering audiences a glimmer of hope that catastrophe can be averted.

The gloom came from DiCaprio and the hope from Stevens, the pair said in the question and answer session that followed the screening. The film also criticises those who fund anti-environment groups for commercial gains. “The Koch brothers aren’t denying it, they just want to make money,” Stevens said, referring to Charles and David Koch who have founded and funded conservative and libertarian political organisations.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 12th, 2016.