‘An Inconvenient Truth’: Did the Earth move for us? – Irish Times

The release in 2006 of the documentary film An Inconvenient Truth was a surprise box office and critical hit, as well as a landmark moment in raising awareness about dangerous climate change.

Grossing more than $50 million, it became one of the most successful documentary films ever made, and was widely regarded as having reinvigorated the global ecological movement. It also earned its creator Al Gore a share of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Gores follow-up film, An Inconvenient Sequel Truth To Power, opens nationwide on August 18th.

For me, the film was an environmental epiphany an electrifying moment when everything Id been studying and trying to process emotionally for several years came crashing into focus.

By the time the final credits were rolling, I sensed my days of cynical indifference on this issue were over. Being a parent of what were then very young children sharpened its impact. After all, the timelines for catastrophe ran right through their future adult lives. Who, knowing this, could choose not to act? In Gores own words, doing nothing in the face of what we now know about climate change is deeply unethical.

I have asked some well-known figures from environmental science and campaigning for their impressions, then and now, of An Inconvenient Truth. Did the Earth move for them?

When it came out I remember feeling excited that someone had actually made a feature film about global warming. At that time it wasnt a big deal in the collective consciousness; most people hadnt really grasped the consequences of rising emissions.

I think the film had a huge impact on how we, as a society, understood climate change. It made the science of climate change accessible to a huge audience, and as an environmental scientist, I felt it helped give our work a boost and endorse our efforts for change.

Tragically, the resulting shift in awareness didnt translate in to policy changes. Even now, a decade later, we all still have our heads in the sand. We know the basic facts, we know the scale of destruction and injustice that climate change brings about, yet any real positive action is still dismissed as extreme. I hope the films sequel will help resolve this cognitive dissonance.

The International Panel on Climate Changes (IPCC) fourth assessment report came out later that year, and the real importance of the film is that it articulated the science to the public in a way that hadnt been done before.

Up till then, IPCC reports were seen as dusty old documents that were kept in a drawer. Al Gore showed their relevance by explaining the impact of climate change on us as individuals. Gore also provided leadership to the environmental movement at that time, someone they could coalesce around to express their particular concerns.

Some of the way he conveyed the science was populist, and you could pick holes in some of his arguments, as his critics tried so often to do, but the overall thrust of what he said in the film is true, and has been proven true ever since.

Gores first movie had a profound effect on me. Im embarrassed to admit it, but I cried when the credits came up because it was the moment I realised that, if we didnt solve climate change, everything was at risk. Yet the problem was so big I couldnt fathom how to fix it.

The original film did a great job raising awareness of climate change but it stopped short of providing much in the way of solutions. I think thats part of the reason it failed to make a huge impact with the public not everyone wanted to go to the cinema to get depressed.

However, Gores Climate Reality project, which came after the film, has had real impact. I am one of over 8,000 climate leaders in 126 countries who have been trained to give a version of his famous PowerPoint presentation. That may be its enduring legacy.

Has any public figure been more pilloried for their efforts to communicate the climate threat than Al Gore? Going back to his time as US vice-president, where he worked hard to put global warming on the political agenda, he has been under relentless attack from the well-funded forces of denial.

The release of An Inconvenient Truth in 2006 led to an intensification of the hate campaign against Gore that continues to this day.

In his original film one of Gores slides featured a graphic of the famous hockey-stick curve that my co-authors and I published in the late 1990s. This showed a dramatic spike in temperature over the past century.

Every bit as dramatic has been the quite extraordinary global growth in clean energy in the past 10 years. The deniers said it couldnt be done. They were wrong, yet again. Despite everything, there are still reasons for cautious optimism, and Al Gore can take a lot of credit for that.

The movie led to a breakthrough moment in public debate and media coverage of climate change. Suddenly it was a zeitgeist issue. Journalists were looking for the climate angle on almost everything. I remember reading an Irish Times profile of eight young women writers where six of them named climate change as a concern, and thinking weve made it.

Then came the economic crash, which knocked climate right off the political and media agenda. Irish vested interest groups have also worked hard to put protection of short-term private profit above longer-term public interest.

Personally, I liked the movie and the way Gore wove the story of his familys tobacco farming with his own discovery of the science of climate risk. And his nave hopes that evidence alone would sway his fellow Congress members.

There are two memorable quotes from the movie. One is the worry that people might swing from denial to despair without pausing in the middle for action. The other is that only thing preventing action is a lack of political will, and political will is a renewable resource.

Back in 2006, there was in fact a lot of political support for action on climate. The European Council that year agreed the 2020 (emissions reduction) targets. This happened around the time the film came out, and there is no doubt that it helped. Ive seen the tide go in and out on climate action over the years; An Inconvenient Truth was definitely a high-water mark.

Gores real achievement was in turning dry scientific information into easily understood, digestible material. For me, the wow moment in the film was that one graph (tracking projected carbon dioxide levels by mid-century) that went literally through the roof.

Having lived for a while in the US, I also liked the closing sequence featuring a shot of the river near his home, connecting him to the beauty of the place he grew up in Tennessee and the awareness that this really could all be lost.

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‘An Inconvenient Truth’: Did the Earth move for us? – Irish Times

Acclaimed Visual Futurist Syd Mead to Deliver Keynote Address at 2017 VES Summit – Animation World Network (press release) (registration) (blog)

LOS ANGELES — The Visual Effects Society, the industrys global professional honorary society, has announced acclaimed visual futurist and VES Visionary Award honoree Syd Mead as a keynote speaker at its ninth annual VES Summit, Inspiring Change: Building on 20 Years of VES Innovation. The 2017 VES Summit takes place on Saturday, October 28th at the Sofitel Hotel Beverly Hills.

Featured Speakers will include President of IMAX Home Entertainment Jason Brenek and renowned online security expert and founder of SSP Blue Hemanshu Nigam. The interactive forum on Saturday, October 28th celebrates the Societys milestone 20th Anniversary and will bring together top creatives, executives, thought leaders and visionaries from diverse disciplines to explore the dynamic evolution of visual imagery and the VFX industry landscape in a TED Talks-like atmosphere.

Keynote speaker Syd Mead is an acclaimed visual futurist and conceptual artist whose storied career spans almost six decades. He was honored as the recipient of its VES Visionary Award at the 14th Annual VES Awards in 2016 for his unique ability to create unforgettable images and advance storytelling through his futuristic design aesthetic. Meads career began as he created characters and backgrounds for animated cinema intermission trailers just out of high school. After serving in the U.S. Army and receiving his education at the Art Center School in Los Angeles, Ford Motor Companys Advanced Styling Studio recruited Mead. After Ford, he took on high-profile design assignments for blue chip companies including U.S. Steel, Philips Electronics and Intercontinental Hotels.

In 1979, Meads projects expanded to designing for Hollywood as he began to work with most major studios. His cinema entre was legendary, starting with the creation of the Vger entity for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, followed by two cult classics — Bladerunner and Tron. Meads designs for robots, vehicles and other-worldly environments have also been featured in films including 2010, Short Circuit, Aliens, Time Cop, Johnny Mnemonic, Mission Impossible 3 and Elysium.

Concept art for director Ridley Scotts 1982 classic feature Blade Runner by Syd Mead.

With transportation design as his first love, Mead seldom misses an opportunity to provide his unique blend of futurism and believability to designing vehicles — from concept cars, cruise ships and hypervans to interplanetary cinematic spacecrafts that transport audiences to new worlds. In the 1980s, Mead established close working relationships with a number of major Japanese companies including Sony, Minolta, Dentsu, Dyflex, Tiger, Seibu, Mitsukoshi, Bandai, NHK and Honda as well as contributing to Japanese film projects, Yamato 2520 and Solar Crisis. In the 1990s, he supplied designs for all eight robot characters in the Turn A Gundam mobile suit series and TV show. Extensive collections of Meads work have been exhibited worldwide, drawing record crowds and he continues an active schedule of one-man shows and presentations.

Featured speaker Jason Brenek joined IMAX Corporation in 2015 as President, IMAX Home Entertainment, where he oversees a series of global initiatives designed collectively to translate elements of The IMAX Experience to the home setting, including the IMAX Private Theatres, an over-the-top movie service for delivering IMAX-enhanced Hollywood films into homes, and IMAX technology licensing into premium consumer electronics. He also oversees virtual reality content acquisitions and curation for the new IMAX location-based VR centers.

Prior to joining IMAX, Brenek spent more than a decade in senior management at The Walt Disney Studios. He led Disneys international teams and sub-distributors in the commercialization of Disney, Pixar, and Marvel movies in New Media/Digital, Television and Retail channels. His teams have led the industry in the launch of innovative and lucrative partnerships and products around the world. In his concurrent role of Head of Global Business Development and Strategic Partnerships, Brenek was later responsible for sourcing new revenue opportunities, business models, investments, establishing strategic partnerships, and digital product strategy and incubation for the Studios multi-billion dollar Global In-Home Distribution segment.

Prior to these roles, Brenek worked in Disneys Global Theatrical Distribution division as Senior Vice President, Worldwide Digital Cinema and Cinema Programming where he was responsible for setting and executing Disneys global cinema strategy, overseeing Digital Cinema Operations, negotiating Digital Cinema deployment and digital 3D deals around the world, as well as developing and overseeing 3D and Cinema Programming. He was instrumental in Disneys emergence to the forefront of the Digital Cinema and Digital 3D world. In 2015, the International 3D & Advanced Imaging Society awarded Brenek with its first Founders Award.

Featured Speaker: Hemanshu (Hemu) Nigam has worked inside the largest prosecuting agencies, software companies, media and entertainment giants, and most influential trade associations in the world. Nigam served as the Chief Security Officer of News Corporation and Fox Interactive Medias digital properties, as CSO of MySpace, and as a security executive in Microsoft. He was also the Vice President of Worldwide Internet Enforcement at the Motion Picture Association of America. He began his career as Los Angeles County prosecutor specializing in sex crimes and child abuse before serving as a federal prosecutor against online crimes against children and computer crimes in the US DOJ. Today, he is the founder of SSP Blue, a cyber security advisory company that has helped companies like Participant Media, SnapChat, Microsoft/Xbox, Disney, AT&T, Microsoft, JustFab, and others deal with challenges in cyber security, privacy, and safety.

A veteran of online security, he brings over 20 years of experience in private industry, government, and law enforcement. Nigam has been a keynote speaker at the United Nations on stopping cyber hate, and has been a member of the White Houses cyber stalking task force and co-chair of President Obamas Online Safety Technology Working Group. Nigam has spent a career chasing bad guys online and offline bringing them to justice. He was one of U.S. DOJs first online crimes prosecutors who took down an international child sex trafficking ring as well as prosecuted online child predators and hackers. His insightful expert commentary on cyber security offers an insiders view of the dark online underworld. Nigams personable style coupled with his unique ability to simplify cyber security for viewers to understand makes him a frequent guest on U.S. and international media. He also has a video blog at http://www.InsideCyberCrime.com where he breaks down cyber security, privacy, and safety topics in accessible segments.

Source: Visual Effects Society

Jennifer Wolfe is Director of News & Content at Animation World Network.

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Acclaimed Visual Futurist Syd Mead to Deliver Keynote Address at 2017 VES Summit – Animation World Network (press release) (registration) (blog)

The Hungry Empire: How Britain’s Quest for Food Shaped the Modern World by Lizzie Collingham – review – The Guardian

Britains search for tea, sugar, rice and cod, Collingham argues, had far-reaching consequences. Photograph: http://www.bridgemanart.com

Food history narratives sell only in the tiniest quantities in the UK, so any publisher contemplating such a proposal needs to find a marketing angle, one that resonates with contemporary issues perhaps, or addresses our national psyche.

In the cinema world, films such as Viceroys House, and Victoria & Abdul are testament to our enduring fascination with the British empire, the gift that keeps on giving. In the book world, empire nonfiction is another demonstrably commercial genre, and the latest title from distinguished historian Lizzie Collingham, The Hungry Empire: How Britains Quest for Food Shaped the Modern World with its striking similarity to Niall Fergusons Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World clearly aims for this market.

The prevailing tone is one of awe at the achievements of the great imperial project

Happy empire themes do appeal. In 2014, a YouGov survey found that most of the British public thought that the British empire is more something to be proud of (59%) rather than ashamed of (19%). Nevertheless, most museum curators these days put slavery, the ugly conjoined twin in many imperial tales, into the difficult histories category, subjects that require careful perspective and interpretation if they are not to strike an offensive, ugly note. Unfortunately, Collinghams matter-of-fact writing, while undeniably predicated on immaculate research, doesnt demonstrate this awareness.

Her theme is how Britains search for ingredients (sugar, pepper, tea, rice, cod and more) drove the rise of its empire. Each chapter opens with a particular meal and then explores its history. One chapter, for instance, is entitled, In which la Belinguere entertains Sieur Michel Jajolet de la Courbe [both slave traders] to an African-American meal on the west coast of Africa (June 1686). It is subtitled, How West Africa exchanged men for maize and manioc. But exchange is a consensual act; enslavement (kidnapping, deportation, rape, murder, theft, cruelty, torture) most definitely isnt. Collinghams book is studded with euphemisms. Adventurers [slave owners] established plantation agriculture [the now infamous chattel slavery system], appropriated [stole land from its indigenous inhabitants], and imported slaves [enslaved people, ripped from their homelands].

As the historian David Olusoga has pointed out: Few acts of collective forgetting have been as thorough and as successful as the erasing of slavery from Britains island story. Collinghams language continues that tradition. She does include some references to colonial brutality that should make the reader flinch, but the prevailing tone is one of awe at the achievements of the great imperial project, the web of trade that held them [trading posts] all together.

What a shame, because otherwise Collinghams book offers a colourful history that illuminates the roots of contemporary diets, exploding any notion that global fusion food is something new. She traces how a dish of iguana curry, savoured by Guyanese diamond miners in 1993, blended Amerindian hunter-gatherer wisdom, the cuisine of enslaved Africans and the spicy culinary traditions of Indian labourers who were shipped to the colonys sugar plantations once slavery was abolished. We learn how white settlers wiped out the cured buffalo of the Plains Indians, the fern, root, taro and kumasi preparations of the Maori, and grilled frog of Australian aborigines, to make way for bland frontier dishes, such as salt beef stew, and damper, the first truly global meals.

As Collingham dots around the globe Newfoundland, India, New England, Barbados, South Carolina, the Cape, Guyana, Kenya, the south Pacific and more weaving in and out of diverse histories from 1545 to 1996, she serves up an eclectic diet of historical fact. Much of it is interesting, although less dedicated readers might have welcomed stricter editing. Having uncovered some nugget of information, however supplementary or tangential to the central theme, Collingham seems loth not to use it. For a non-academic audience, The Hungry Nation is bloated with fact and frustratingly light on analysis.

Collingham doesnt use the opportunities she creates to examine the imperial legacy on contemporary diets. She quotes the anthropologist Audrey Richards, who observed in 1939 that the diet of many primitive (sic) peoples has deteriorated in contact with white civilisation (sic) rather than the reverse.

Given that sugar is public health enemy number one, Collingham might have commented on how colonial crops now also undermine the health of Britons today.

Her observation that Britains reliance on food from faraway places was a hallmark of empire invites a postscript. A less palatable result of The Hungry Empire is our current food security predicament. The UK cant fully feed itself today; our self-sufficiency in food has dropped to 61%.

While Collingham ably catalogues the quest for ingredients that began in the 16th century with West Country fishermen setting sail to search for cod, some remark on the culmination of this imperial adventure would not go amiss. An acknowledgement, even, that the UK is now a neo-imperialist food economy, still using other peoples land and low wage foreign labour to feed its appetite. But perhaps such analysis is beyond the historians remit.

The Hungry Empire by Lizzie Collingham is published by Bodley Head (25). To order a copy for 21.25 go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over 10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of 1.99

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The Hungry Empire: How Britain’s Quest for Food Shaped the Modern World by Lizzie Collingham – review – The Guardian

Wanda’s Cash Cow Evolution – Bloomberg

Investors in Dalian Wanda Group Co.’s companies haven’t had much good news of late.

Billionaire owner Wang Jianlin’s global buying spree is on Beijing’s radar and aslowing Chinese box office is taking a toll on his cinema operations. No wonder Wang is taking a leaf out of Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing’splaybookand focusingon cash generation first and foremost.

Hong Kong-listed Wanda Hotel Development Co. said in a statement late Wednesday that it had agreed to sell controlling stakes in property projects from Australia to Chicago to affiliateDalian Wanda Commercial Properties Co., leaving it to concentrate on the management of theme parks and hotels.Last month, most of those domestic theme park and hotel assets were soldto property developers Sunac China Holdings Ltd. andGuangzhou R&F Properties Co. in a$9.4 billion transaction. Shares in Wanda Hotel jumped as much as 41 percent Thursday, before closing up 19.8 percent.

Room Upgrade

Shares in Wanda Hotel Development have almost doubled this year

Source: Bloomberg

Shareholders are right to cheer. This restructuring will turn Wanda Hotel from a company bleeding cash into a cash cow.Sunac is nowobligedto pay Wanda Hotel about 650 million yuan ($98 million) every year for the next two decades in management fees. To put this amount in perspective, last year, Wanda Hotel generated just HK$385 million ($49 million) in operating cash flow. In addition, getting the hotel projects off its hands means Wanda Hotel no longer needs to incur any heavy capital expenditure.

House of Horrors

Wanda Hotel’s finances have been pinched by expensive project developments

Source: Bloomberg

Wang’s hope is that Wanda Hotel will now command a higher valuation.International hotel operators trade at an average 26.3 times forward earnings. With Wanda Hotel going asset light, shouldn’t it join the ranks ofMarriott International Inc. and Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., too?

Wanda Hotel shares, YTD


Having a listed company with a higher valuation can only serve Wang well, because he needs the money. Banks are scrutinizing his funding, and there’s little sign that Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties will get approval to list in China anytime soon. In last year’s take-private agreement, Wang promisedthat if he couldn’t re-list the unit by August 2018, he would pay investors up to 12 percent annual interest.

Don’t expect this latest deal to close quickly, however. A transaction of this size will probably be counted as a reverse takeover, which in Hong Kong means having to meet rules associated with a new listing.

Investors may be experiencing some temporary euphoria, but the hurdles Wang faces aren’t over yet.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the authors of this story: Nisha Gopalan in Hong Kong at ngopalan3@bloomberg.net Shuli Ren in Hong Kong at sren38@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Katrina Nicholas at knicholas2@bloomberg.net

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Wanda’s Cash Cow Evolution – Bloomberg

‘Banda’ delivers more than just the islands’ history – Jakarta Post

Banda: The Dark Forgotten Trail narrates the influence of the islands endemic spice, nutmeg, on the nations past and present. Produced by Sheila Lala Timothy and directed by celebrated director Jay Subyakto under Lifelike Pictures, the seven-part documentary opens with the history of the Spice Trail and the Europeans maritime expeditions across the globe.

From the route taken by the explorers to the Banda Islands, to the legend of the islands’ nutmeg trees and details about the spice’s trade that made Banda a trading hub for traders from Arabia, India and China, the well-researched documentary is presented in meticulous detail.

Jay Subyakto takes the audience through the different periods of the Banda Islands, celebrating the glory days of the nutmeg trade, while also commemorating the 1621 genocide committed by Dutch governor general Jan Pieterzoon Coen. The documentary also shines light on Banda Islands generational problem, which has seen the modern young people of Banda decide leave behind their traditional culture.

Read also: Banda wants to break documentary stereotype

Another notable highlight of the film is how it documents the shift in the worlds appreciation of nutmeg, such as how the commodity is now easily accessible, the current production process, which impact the islands nutmeg quality and other problems faced by the farmers.

Apart from the beautiful cinematography that showcases the raw beauty of the Banda Islands, Jay also intersperses the documentary with surprising elements such as animations by SMK Rus Kudus Central Javas vocational school students. Unlike typical documentaries, which often rely on reenactments by trained actors for historical scenes, the makers of Banda: The Dark Forgotten Trail chose to involve the children of Banda to act in the film as a way to connect the seven parts.

Reenactment means using actors who are transformed to be as similar as possible [to the locals and the Dutch]. Personally, I think it would distract the audience, Jay said to The Jakarta Post. When we read about history, we create visualizations in our mind. I dont want to interrupt that with half-hearted [reenactments].

Producer Sheila Thimoty (left) poses alongside head of consumer engagement and corporate marketing at PT. Indofood Sukses Makmur Firman Authar (second left), director Jay Subyakto (second right) and actor Reza Rahardian at the press screening of ‘Banda: The Dark Forgotten Trail’ at Cinema XXI, Plaza Indonesia, Jakarta, Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (JP/Jerry Adiguna)

Jay expertly weaves in Chairil Anwars poem Cerita Buat Dien Tamalea (Story for Dien Tamalea) into the documentary, narrated by actor Reza Rahadian in Bahasa Indonesia and Ario Bayu in English.

Producer Lala Timothy said to the Post, Hopefully this film can be enjoyed by Indonesian film enthusiasts and I also hope the history of Banda will always be remembered as part of the spirit of Indonesia.

Banda: The Dark Forgotten Trail is scheduled to premiere on Aug. 3. (asw)

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‘Banda’ delivers more than just the islands’ history – Jakarta Post