Monday, January 22, 2007

Movies to change the world

Recently, I've watched three films from the library collection which unashamedly advocate for social change on a global scale. Two were documentaries and one an affecting pointed story. One was also a library program and another one was almost a program last year, but we couldn't arrange rights.

Nobelity is a personal reflection by film-maker Turk Pipkin, who interviews nine Nobel Prize laureates about problems affecting our world. While far from objective, as one could probably cherry-pick living Nobel laureates to support a wide variety of views, it is moving and ultimately surprisingly cohesive. Loosely divided into segments entitled: Decision, Challenges, Disparities, Change, Knowledge, Persistence, Peace, Reason, and Love. Each section features an interview with a Nobel laureate, juxtaposed with contextual scenes of areas of the world and montage sequence illustrating issues. The final montage, leading up to the interview with Bishop Tutu, is breathtakingly fast and emotional.

Showing this film would make a great public library program, as it lends itself well to discussion. Unfortunately last year, it was in limited release and the distributors did not really want to see it shown for free in public libraries, but were interested in university venues and non-profit groups that would share admission revenues. Now that the DVD is widely available, public performance rights may be easier to come by.

Girl in the Cafe has a screenplay by Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral). It features the wonderful Bill Nighy playing the sort of uncertain bloke that Curtis has so often created as a Hugh Grant character. Grant is till too young to play this role, as Nighy portrays an aging civil servant, who may have just found love -- but has a significant part to play at the G8 summit in Reykjavik. The film asks good questions about doing the right thing and being willing to sacrifice for the greater good, as Nighy's personal and professional dilemmas run tangled parallel courses. A terrific, sweet and moving story. Unsurprisingly, an extra on the DVD is the video for ("the campaign to make poverty history") that aired on TV last year.

An Inconvenient Truth is the film we showed at the library last week, and needs little introduction or explanation, since Al Gore's campaign on global warming has been high profile. We had about sixty people attend, and the film was followed by a lively discussion, moderated wonderfully by Joanne Kleussendorf of the Weis Earth Science Museum at University of Wisconsin - Fox.

This is the sort of program I would like to see our library do more often, combining education, community development, library media and a social issue.

1 comment:

Reel Fanatic said...

I don't know how in the world Al Gore's movies managed to turn up in my little corner of the world for exactly one week this summer, but I'm certainly glad I jumped at the chance to see it ... It's as entertaining as it is thoroughly terrifying