Park City, Utah -- An Inconvenient Sequel, former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore's new film about climate change, had its world premiere here tonight as the opening film of Sundance 2017, and there could not have been a better choice for the honour.
Sundance Institute founder and president Robert Redford introduced Gore in opening remarks, calling the former politician "a very good friend of mine." The two share a passion for the environment that goes back decades. Indeed, Gore's first film about climate change, An Inconvenient Truth, debuted at Sundance in 2006.
The new documentary, directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, packs even more power than the original, which followed Gore as he presented his "slide show" about the coming calamity of global warming to various audiences around the world.
In a series of stunning images, An Inconvenient Sequel takes us around the world to show us documentary footage of the consequences of galloping global warming that occurred in the intervening decade, with normal weather events morphing into weather-related disasters. Rains become "rain bombs," leading to "Noah-like floods;" cyclical droughts become catastrophes that kill people and livestock mercilessly; typhoons and hurricanes become terrifying maelstroms with more punishing, killing energy in them than ever before.
The images tell the story of weather-related disasters on a large scale: we see the construction of mass graves for the victims of a drought, and row upon row of simple white crosses that mark another. There are also intimate glimpses that have us holding our collective breaths: we see a man struggle to save a woman whose car has become submerged in a flood; she is saved at the very last minute.
The film begins with equally striking footage of Gore exploring Greenland's fast-disappearing ice sheets. We see turbulent rivers of crystalline water rushing toward "moulins," nearly circular, well-like shafts that funnel the liquid water down to the base of the ice sheet where it accelerates its breakup.
The second half of An Inconvenient Sequel focuses on progress in the climate change front. We see Gore behind the scenes at the Paris Climate Change Conference in November 2015, negotiating to get the landmark treaty known as the Paris Agreement done. There is jubilation and tears of relief.
There are other encouraging signs: an array of solar cells in the Chilean desert that will help speed that country to clean, green energy; and armies of climate change warriors that are going forth with the environmental message.
At the end, we are uplifted. The climate change battle is going to be won, Gore says. The tipping point has been passed. There is no other choice possible.
M.L. Bream/Night Vision
Former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore answers audience questions at the Eccles Theatre in Park City, Utah, after the opening night screening of An Inconvenient Sequel at the Sundance Film Festival. The film received a rapturous reception.