“Racing Extinction” : Sundance 2015

“Racing Extinction”

Just got back from seeing “Racing Extinction” as part of the Sundance Film Festival:


YEAR 2015

SECTION U.S. Documentary Competition


RUN TIME 94 min

Louie Psihoyos’ The Cove (2009 Sundance Film Festival, U.S. Documentary Audience Award) exposed viewers to the brutal practice of dolphin slaughter. The Academy Award-winning director now bears witness to a global problem—mankind’s role in precipitating mass extinction, potentially resulting in the loss of half of the world’s species.

Believing that images can stimulate empathy and in turn change behavior, Psihoyos joins forces with activists, scientists, nature photographers, and cutting-edge inventors to draw attention to the dangers we face. While covert operations reveal the horrific black-market trade in endangered aquatic species, the film’s broader lens uncovers the even more disastrous consequences of human activity, chiefly the release of ocean-killing methane and carbon from energy consumption.

With stakes as high as the survival of life on the planet, Racing Extinction dispenses with apathy or fatalism to emerge as an urgent, affirming call to action to stem the tide before it’s too late. —B.T.


I have seen The Cove from this same group of folks, and it was impressive to watch. Clever, effective in its messaging, and moving, The Cove was destined to be a hard act to follow.

Racing Extinction proves more than capable of doing so. Less a “gotcha” movie than The Cove, Racing Extinction instead spends it’s time highlighting species endpoints by attempting to backtrack through immediate causes and back to the root causes.

Now, I’m not an environmentalist, but the cause and effect presentation style of Racing Extinction certainly presents a compelling case for environmental change and its effect on countless species around the world, and, ultimately, mankind.

The fact that it does so without becoming militant in its demands that humanity change its ways is refreshing. What it does is to suggest causes and changes that the everyday person can take to begin the process of reducing their impact on the world.

It was refreshing to hear director Louie Psihoyos admit his astonishment at how large a carbon footprint his team put out in the making of the film. Oh, the irony.

The methodology used to bring their message to the masses was also refreshing, and very mainstream, from partnering with an environmentally conscious NASCAR driver, to using large scale art projection to bring visual evidence of both the beauty of nature as well as the negative aspects of environmental change.

This film probably won’t convince any die hard opponents, and the response from the audience at my screening demonstrated that it was heavy skewed in favor of the environmental cause. Here’s what I can say, based on what I watched:

There are two categories of climate change that are addressed in the film: direct and indirect. While I can concede the direct impact that man often has on the environment in the form of sewage, garbage, oil spills, etc, I’m not scientist enough to simply accept the rest of the purported impact of CO2 and other impacts as being the responsibility of mankind, or even mostly the responsibility of mankind.

Regardless, the film is an exceptionally well put-together piece of work, one which stimulates serious consideration of the issues at hand. And it does so while keeping the debate civil and focused.


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