Interview: Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, Directors of “An Inconvenient Sequel”

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For rogerebert.com I spoke to Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, directors of Al Gore’s new climate change documentary, “An Inconvenient Sequel.”

We see ourselves as filmmakers and as storytellers. We want to make films that move people emotionally. The most effective thing that cinema can do is get into people’s hearts and have them see a new perspective on life—step inside someone else’s shoes and mind for 90 minutes and experience the world in that way. Take them away, make them laugh, make them cry, all those things movies are good at. We also think they can be incredibly effective ways to see social issues through their characters. That’s why we make movies about remarkable people like President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives in “The Island President” and Al Gore in this film, who get up every day and are driven in an almost inhuman way to make a change in a problem that they see in the world and shine truth into a very dark arena where bad actors try to lie to the American public to gain profits for fossil fuel companies. To us, that’s a natural drama. And that’s primarily where we work—character-based films that we hope will bring issues to life through their stories.

We were amazed and heartened that part of Al’s message is this incredible hope with sustainable energy that can help get us out of this mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. Bonni and I have teenagers and so it’s become more of an emotional issue. As Al Gore says in the film, it’s more like civil rights or women’s suffrage or apartheid than like a petty political issue. It’s of utmost importance to the future of the planet.

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