PARK CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – The Sundance Film Festival kicks off Thursday and for the first time in its history the festival will highlight one specific cause – climate change.
On Wednesday it was announced that 2016 was officially the hottest year on record beating out our previous records set in 2015 and 2014. This year’s Sundance Film Festival is tackling the causes and consequences of climate change.
“This year the films kind of blew us away and they were begging to be like, we have to get out there, there has to be a platform so people know and can see what is happening,” said Sundance Film Festival Programmer Hussain Currimbhoy.
Currimbhoy helped pick the films that are being highlighted in the festivals “The New Climate” series. He said the theme of environmental change and conservation in this year’s film submissions couldn’t be ignored. “Filmmakers. I think in documentary, are kind of often driven to the fringe of what’s happening at the bleeding edge of our culture.”
The New Climate includes 14 documentaries, short films and virtual experiences that focus on climate change and its consequences. Currimbhoy said, “There’s actually VR experiences tied to The New Climate that not only make you see it for what it is, it puts you on the edge of an Arctic shelf to see the water dissolving around you. It’s undeniable, it’s incredibly powerful and it hits your brain a different way that maybe usual film or a newspaper article can’t quite do.”
Sundance is not alone in its efforts. The film festival’s host, Park City, is leading the charge and lessening its environmental impact by cutting carbon emissions and using more renewable energy. Park City Council Member Tim Henney said, “Our goals are to be municipal net zero and renewable energy by 2022, and community-wide by 2032.”
In fact, Park City’s carbon goals are said to be the most aggressive goals in North America. “The old model, the old fossil fuel based carbon model, if you don’t know by now, here it is, it’s unsustainable, it’s non-viable and we can actually see the end of that model, it’s right in front of us,” said Henney. “20 years from now we’re being told that we will not have snow, like the snow that you see around us at this level, which is 7,000 feet in Park City, it will only rain at 7,000 feet and the snow above 7,000 feet. That’s a dramatic change.”
The festival kicks off Thursday with the debut of the follow up film to An Inconvenient Truth, called An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.
Sunday Al Gore, Robert Redford and others will hold the Power of Story panel discussion. The panel will be streamed live at www.Sundance.org.
Park City will also hold it’s own panel discussion about environmental issues facing our state and the steps Park City is taking to lessen its impact Sunday at 1:00 pm at the Festival Base Camp. After the panel discussion the Power of Story panel will also be live streamed.