Burning Ice

Burning Ice


Reviewed by: Robert Munro

It is difficult to be disparaging about a documentary aiming to engage with the issue of climate change in a new way, trying to force the issue to the forefront of the minds of those not yet convinced. But here goes.

Unfortunately, the film seems to end up conforming precisely to the very thing it is in opposition to: it is preaching to the converted. Cape Farewell, the charitable organisation behind the film, undoubtedly has its heart in the right place. Founder David Buckland discusses on camera his desire for the issue of climate change to reach new audiences through an increasing cultural awareness of the problem.

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A whole raft of artists are enlisted to visit badly affected areas of Greenland so that they can take the cold, hard data of the science behind climate change and turn it into something artistically and culturally viable for new audiences. Unfortunately, this shifting of focus away from the nature of the problem to the aforementioned group of artists and creative types wandering around parts of Greenland and engaging in impromptu jam sessions, seems to offer very little in the continuing battle to convince those who still need convincing.

Several of the artists inadvertently hit the climate change nail on the head. Not through their rather self-satisfied and, ultimately unimpressive, attempts to ‘culturalise’ the debate, but through a few oft-hand remarks to camera. KT Tunstall is honest enough to admit that the real stars of the film are those unassuming scientists showing the assorted artists around Greenland, highlighting the rapid changes to the sea ice in the north pole. Unfortunately, we don’t see enough of the scientists whose continued good work and invaluable research are what’s needed to force those unwilling to tackle climate change to actually get of their arses and do so.

Another insight comes from singer-songwriter Martha Wainwright, who seems to undermine the very nature of the excursion in admitting that the level of change that is needed to haul back our planet from the brink of environmental disaster is not achieved from the bottom up, but must come from the top down.

As mentioned previously, this documentary, and the ensuing airing of material at the Latitude music festival, is preaching to the converted. It does not aim to shame those who have the power to make the important decisions into a more serious conversation about our planet, but panders to the liberal, Latitude-festival-attending, socially aware types who are probably already on side anyway.

Reviewed on: 20 Jun 2011
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Jarvis Cocker, Robyn Hitchcock, Martha Wainwright, KT Tunstall, Marcus Brigstocke, Ryuichi Sakomoto tackle climate change.
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Director: Peter Guilbert

Starring: Jarvis Cocker, Robyn Hitchcock, Martha Wainwright, KT Tunstall, Marcus Brigstocke, Ryuichi Sakomoto

Year: 2010

Runtime: 79 minutes

Country: UK


EIFF 2011

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