Access Pollywood: ‘An Inconvenient Sequel’ Premieres at the Newseum

by Noah Wolfenstein

Al Gore returns with a cautiously optimistic look at the climate crisis.

From left: Co-directors Jon Shenk and Bonni Cohen, Executive Producer Jeff Skoll and Al Gore

Less than two months removed from the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, former Vice President Al Gore and Participant Media hope to inspire moviegoers with their second cinematic installment on the climate crisis, adequately named “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.” Gore is returning to the big screen, 11 years after his documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” changed the global rhetoric on the polarizing issue of climate change. At the film’s premiere at the Newseum on July 19, Gore stressed the importance of continuing the climate fight, while acknowledging the level of progress that has been achieved since the original’s release.

“There have been two big changes in the last decade and since ‘An Inconvenient Truth’,” Gore told us. “One is that climate-related extreme weather events are a lot more common and more destructive, and that is waking a lot more people up.” The documentary features distressing images from Hurricane Sandy in New York, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and other severe storms.

“The second big change is that the solutions are here now,” he continued. “A decade ago, they were visible on the horizon, but we had to rely on the technology experts to assure us that they would definitely arrive. Now they’re here, and they are producing electricity at rates that are cheaper than fossil fuels in many places, and soon everywhere.”

Executive Vice President of Documentary Films at Participant Media Dianne Weyermann and Producer Richard Berge

While the first film presented a rather dismal look at the climate crisis, “An Inconvenient Sequel” strikes a more optimistic note, showing the various ways that the world has committed to preserving the planet for future generations. At the same time, it was nearly impossible to ignore the political elephant in the room at the Newseum premiere.

“It’s kind of an accident of history that this became a political issue in the first place. It really should not be,” said co-director Jon Shenk, who worked with Bonni Cohen to film the documentary almost entirely before the 2016 U.S. election. “I think if you ask most people ‘do you care about safeguarding the planet for our children?’, the answer would be yes.”

A major highlight of “An Inconvenient Sequel” shows a Republican mayor committing to an environmentally friendly agenda, displaying the bipartisan nature of this issue. “I think people are aware that something is happening that’s not quite right, and you see this in scenes in the film,” remarked Dianne Weyermann, Executive Vice President of Documentary Films at Participant Media. “We go into unlikely areas, like Georgetown, Texas, where you have a mayor in a very red district, and a red state, saying we are going 100 percent renewable, not only because of the changes that people are experiencing, but also because it’s economically advantageous to do so.”

Al Gore speaks at the Newseum

Despite the economic advantages of clean energy, President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement this past June, a move that forced the production team to change the epilogue of the film. Instead of losing confidence, Al Gore found solace in the public response to the controversial decision.

“I myself was worried when President Trump announced his decision on Paris,” acknowledged Gore, whose role in the monumental climate agreement back in 2015 serves as the climax of the documentary. “But then, right away, the rest of the world doubled their commitment to it, and here at home the governors, mayors and business leaders stood up and said we are going to fill the gap and stay in the Paris agreement and meet the commitments, regardless of what Trump does.”

Al Gore and Participant Media are hopeful that this film will make a similar impact to the original, which sparked a generation of climate warriors. Gore has a simple goal for individuals who want to get involved in the fight: “Take a friend to the movie, learn about it, and then act to solve it.”

“An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” will be released in select theaters on July 28, and nationwide on August 4.

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