Cinema in action

Francis James Dobbs on Film4Climate and how the film industry can go green.

by Anne-Katrin Titze

Connect4Climate's Francis James Dobbs: "In Cannes we met with the Cine-Regio, which is the film commissions in France and Belgium and Holland and Germany."
Connect4Climate's Francis James Dobbs: "In Cannes we met with the Cine-Regio, which is the film commissions in France and Belgium and Holland and Germany." Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

At the official launch of Wild-Touch's Ice & Sky with Luc Jacquet and Marion Cotillard, I arranged to meet with Connect4Climate's Francis James Dobbs who discussed with me the Action4Climate competition that had jury members including filmmakers Bernardo Bertolucci, Wim Wenders, Atom Egoyan, Walter Salles, Mira Nair, Fernando Meirelles, Bob Rafelson, Mika Kaurismaki, Marc Foster and Pablo Trapero, a meeting with Cine-Regio at the Cannes Film Festival, contacting Sony, Universal, and Paramount to come on board, what Yoko Ono said at the press preview for Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960 - 1971 at MoMA and looking forward to COP21 in Paris.

Luc Jacquet and Marion Cotillard with Marie-Monique Steckel, President of the French Institute Alliance Française
Luc Jacquet and Marion Cotillard with Marie-Monique Steckel, President of the French Institute Alliance Française Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

In Le Skyroom of the French Institute Alliance Française in New York, before and after my conversation with Ice And The Sky director Luc Jacquet, Francis clued me in on Film4Climate and its siblings, Action4Climate, Fashion4Climate, Cities4Climate, Knowledge4Climate, Sports4Climate, which prompted my suggestion of a Food4Climate.

After presenting me (and Marion Cotillard) with a stylish Connect4Climate Cruciani bracelet, he was joined by his colleagues, Max Edkins and Carol Kaufmann at the reception.

Anne-Katrin Titze: What are your current projects with Film4Climate?

Francis James Dobbs: We had our Action4Climate competition which was for young filmmakers up to the age of 35 from all over the world. It was a competition to get them to produce films on climate change. The jury that assessed the films was Bernardo Bertolucci, Wim Wenders, Pablo Trapero - there were ten very wonderful directors. We are still working with them on this project Film4Climate which is to try and organize more green guidelines for filmmaking. To get more of a universal protocol for sustainable filmmaking.

AKT: How can filmmakers who are interested get involved?

FJD: In Cannes we met with the Cine-Regio, which is the film commissions in France and Belgium and Holland and Germany. All have the starting points for green filmmaking. In America, we talked with Sony, Universal, Paramount, who also have the guidelines but it's all very haphazard.

AKT: And you are trying to bring it together?

FJD: Yes. And to bring it together in time for the COP 21 [the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris - November 30 - December 11, 2015]. So we can say to the COP, hey, the film industry is showing an example of how one should organize an industry in order to be green and be sustainable. And the film industry is out front doing it.

AKT: Where did the initiative begin?

Carol Kaufmann, Francis James Dobbs and Max Edkins of Connect4Climate
Carol Kaufmann, Francis James Dobbs and Max Edkins of Connect4Climate Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

FJD: We started out at the Palm Springs Film Festival two years ago where we got a workshop together with a group of directors including Marc Forster of World War Z and other films, really to see whether this was something that directors and producers were interested in. And of course, they want to keep their creativity. We don't want to get in the way of that. Sony has also done some assessment of films and found that actually it is financially worthwhile. So it's a question of building that financial incentive as well for the producers.

AKT: As far as the creativity is concerned, there is still the stigma out there. It is similar to the fashion industry, the prejudice that if it's sustainable, it has to be ugly. A film has to be dry when it is green, which is, of course, ridiculous.

FJD: Right. Exactly. Our Connect4Climate program in general is there to raise awareness and encourage solutions to climate change. We have various hubs, as well as film, we have Fashion4Climate, Cities4Climate, Knowledge4Climate and Sports4Climate. We try and bring as many industries and concepts together.

AKT: You are also going to be involved in Luc's [Jacquet] educational program with children filming in Antarctica?

FJD: We saw that this was coming along and so we thought we want to try and work with him. With the children this is giving a global feel to it, because we are trying to work globally, and bringing kids from all over the world - right now we are looking in Latin America. It's in the early stages. They are working with kids from 14 onwards.

AKT: Film4Climate also encourages filmmakers to approach relevant content?

FJD: Yes, a commitment to work on content in film to make sure that the subject matter is more out there and more accessible and understandable to the greater audience.

AKT: Talk a bit about the guidelines! What makes green filmmaking green?

Connect4Climate Cruciani bracelet
Connect4Climate Cruciani bracelet Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

FJD: The guidelines are really for production and how to help be more sustainable, whether it's no meat, no beef in the sandwiches - obviously transport is a big issue in filmmaking - really cutting down and changing the approach. And as I said earlier, there is proof that it is actually financially profitable.

AKT: It is not asking the film productions to pave all the roads they use with solar panels, as Yoko suggested. [Francis had mentioned to me that he was planning to go see the Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960 - 1971 at MoMA after having read my feature on the exhibition].

FJD: Aahhhh, that would be a good idea, too! If we could do that. Or all the studio sets, maybe? Pave all the studio sets in Hollywood with solar panels?

AKT: That would be great. I like the no-meat policy as well. Can you explain the connection some more?

FJD: Well, beef is more of an issue in terms of carbon emissions than cars are. And it is ignored at the moment. The focus is more on cars but we have to do something about the beef industry in order to cut down on carbon emissions. Climate-smart agriculture is the name of the day and bringing that more into the fore to put it into action.

AKT: Do you have a section for that? There is Film4Climate. Fashion 4Climate, do you have Food4Climate?

FJD: You know, we've been looking, we haven't got to it yet. We've been in touch with a number of people. Feeding the Five Thousand, on waste food, there's been a number of events. The amount of food we waste each day is, I think, a quarter of all food that is produced for humans. We want to work on that definitely in the future. Our goal there would really be to convene the agriculturalists and food manufacturers to work towards that end.

Luc Jacquet and Marion Cotillard present Ice & Sky in Le Skyroom of the French Institute Alliance Française
Luc Jacquet and Marion Cotillard present Ice & Sky in Le Skyroom of the French Institute Alliance Française Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

AKT: I was surprised to read in the papers this week that here in New York there is no mandatory composting for restaurants. The co-op where I live is actually part of a pilot program for composting. It is insane the amount of garbage a city like New York produces.

FJD: It's not just New York, it's everywhere.

Max Edkins: That's really the idea to engage with different industries to figure out ways of reducing the carbon footprint within each one of those. Film is one of the first ones we are working with because we've got a very good network there with some really inspiring directors who are part of our initiative. And we also run a youth competition, called Act4Climate that produces a lot of very powerful documentaries from all over the world, telling very personal stories.

For example, on droughts in the Sahara region or the impact of a hurricane landing in the Philippines as well as a lot of community based solutions. How do you actually build a solar panel on your home and transition to a greener economy? We got more of a catch-all bracket which is called Live4Climate in which we slot activities related to consumerism, to food, to design, to individual choices in your purchases and your behavior.

AKT: It is very good to focus on children. They can then feel empowered to have a positive impact on the world around them.

Carol Kaufmann: Focus on the youth and also giving a platform to voices that would never have been heard otherwise.

Francis James Dobbs: We are heavy on the social media sites so that we can directly get to the youth audience. And then, of course, Luc's project of bringing kids to the Arctic to really experience that, is right down the line of what we want to be involved in, to see and make happen as much as possible.

Coming up, Marion Cotillard and Luc Jacquet's presentation of the official launch of Ice & Sky at the French Institute Alliance Française in New York.

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