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‘An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power’ offers hope, possible solutions to climate crisis

Colette Greenstein | 7/27/2017, 6 a.m.
The dramatic follow-up on “An Inconvenient Truth” follows former Vice President Al Gore as he crisscrosses the globe, training an ...
Former Vice President Al Gore giving his updated presentation in Houston, Texas in “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power” from Paramount Pictures and Participant Media. Jensen Walker/©2017 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved

It’s been 11 years since the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” catapulted the subject of climate change onto the global stage. Directed by Davis Guggenheim (“He Named Me Malala” and “Waiting for ‘Superman’”), the film was released in 2006 and won an Academy Award for “Best Documentary Feature” a year later.

The film followed former presidential candidate Al Gore as he vigorously lobbied to raise public awareness of global warming and an immediate call to action to curb its destructive effects on the environment.

Its riveting and dramatic follow-up, “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” (which releases nationwide on August 4), once again follows former Vice President Gore as he crisscrosses the globe, training an army of climate champions through his nonprofit organization The Climate Reality Project, which concentrates on international climate policy as well as possible solutions to global warming.

Both films address the climate crisis and its devastating impact on the planet, but the difference between the two is that where the first one presented a darker and less-than-hopeful scenario, the sequel offers some measured optimism and hope that positive change can be affected.

Co-directors Bonnie Cohen and Jon Shenk were given full access to Gore in filming the sequel. A huge fan of cinema and documentaries, the two first met him in July of 2015 at his home in Nashville, Tennessee. There, they were struck by his methodology in how he researched and gathered information from all around the world “in order to have this up-to-the-date presentation for whatever country he finds himself in,” described Cohen, who recently was in Boston with Shenk to promote the documentary.

Upon meeting with him, they were hopeful in how they envisioned the documentary unfolding. “Jon and I really like to make deep emotional films,” said Cohen. “The last film we made was called ‘Audrie & Daisy’ and before that ‘The Island President,’ which was about the president of the Maldives — another fun planet film but also a kind of deep character portrait.”

Their goal for the film was “to take it and own it and make it into something that has some emotion and some inherent drama, and frankly something that people want to see in the theater,” remarked Cohen. And by all accounts the co-directors achieved their goals.

“An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” follows Gore to Greenland to meet climate scientists to get the latest on the ice melt there, while in the Philippines he meets with survivors of the October 2016 Typhoon Haima. But it’s not all “doom and gloom.” The film also highlights the successes in wind and solar technology, as well as behind-the-scenes negotiations to advance the Paris Climate Agreement.

What’s also great about this film is Al Gore himself. His passion and advocacy on the issue of global warming is long-documented, but what also resonates is his charming personality, his sense of humor and his ability to connect with individuals from various countries and background. On his visit to the Philippines, we see him listening to and comforting one of the survivors of Typhoon Haima.

Cohen described Gore as akin to a rock star. “You know he’s not Bob Dylan, but he’s Al Gore. He has an incredible personality. In the past, the public did not have access to it, and we didn’t want that to happen again.”