The Age of Stupid – a ground breaking documentary on Climate Change comes to IFAD

IFAD obtained the exclusive rights to screen the documentary The Age of Stupid before its official release in Italy. The screening was organized by Sheila Mwanundu and Katiuscia Fara from IFAD's Technical Advisory division who had seen the documentary in December 2008 at COP 14 in Poznan, Poland. They both felt that the documentary's strong messages can help raise awareness about climate change within and beyond IFAD.

The screening of this groundbreaking 90 minute documentary on climate change brought together over 200 colleagues.

Rodney Cooke, Director of Technical Advisory division, in his opening remarks mentioned that while the documentary should not be seen as a "film version" of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, at the same time, the audience should not treat the facts highlighted in the documentary as science fiction! Cooke iterated that while the facts depicted in the documentary may not happen overnight, however we can already see the impact of global warming on the livelihoods of the poor rural men and women around the world.

Pete Postlethwaite tells their story of six individuals who live in the future.
  • 82 year old French mountain guide
  • A young Indian businessman who is starting a low-cost airline
  • A shell oil man who rescued 100 people after hurricane Katrina
  • A Nigerian fisher living in Shell's most profitable oil region in Nigeria
  • Two young Iraqi refugees who are trying to find their brother
  • A windfarm developer fighting the anti windfarm lobby in England

At the end of the documentary, when the lights were switch on, looking around the room, you could see quite a few distressed and shocked faces and also some moist eyes. Like anything in the world, there was also the camp who thought the documentary was pure science fiction.

Whether they were shocked or thought it was pure science fiction – two weeks after the event – colleagues are still talking about the documentary. And now more than ever – after the heads of international agencies such as IFAD, WIPO, WMO, WHO and WTO joined the international campaign to galvanize public support for a successful outcome to UN-sponsored climate change negotiations by signing a global petition addressed to world leaders and with Copenhagen Climate Change summit around the corner - climate change is on everyone's mind.

We took the opportunity of having Ms Franny Armstrong, the documentary's director, on the phone with us to ask her couple of questions:

What was the reaction of the public when the documentary was released in the UK?
What happened in the UK was extraordinary… The public swiftly internalized the documentary's message and there was some sort of public action. In an effort to raise awareness on the impact of the climate change, NGOs and normal citizens started organizing screenings at public venues such as schools and townhall meetings. As a result, we were inundated with requests from Government offices to screen the documentary. To meet all these demands, we've issued a blanket screening for all national Health Service institutions and schools. Another incredible achievement is the White Paper issued on 15 July 2009 – "The UK low carbon transition plan – which commits the UK to lower its carbon emission by 34% and also the commitment of spending 450million pounds for renewable and clean energy technologies.

The Age of Stupid is an independent documentary. How did you manage to raise funds to finance this project?
The documentary was funded by 228 good willing people from all over the world who through a crowd-funding scheme managed to raise 450,000 pounds.

Our goal in making this documentary was to raise awareness and make sure it is seen by as many people as possible. And our priority was to make sure that we could distribute it to schools, government outfits and on the web. By funding it ourselves we are at liberty to control the content and the distribution.

The advantage of making an independent documentary is that you do not have anyone telling you what you can and cannot do and you are not forced to distribute it with the usual suspects. Whoever owns the rights decides how and where to distribute.

Katiuscia Fara, one of the organizers of this extraordinary screening concluded by thanking Ms Armstrong for her generosity. They also talked about IFAD's newly formed IFAD Go Green Group (I3G) which is raising awareness on how we can reduce our carbon footprint with performing simple tasks, such as double-side printing, drinking water from water fountains, turning down the air-conditioning, switching off lights, recycling and yes WALKING instead of driving.

We want to hear from you on how we can improve the life of our planet to ensure a bright future for your children and grandchildren.

The Age of Stupid will be officially released in Italy in September 2009. If you are interested in getting involved in the public awareness raising campaign, please contact Sheila Mwanundu and Katiuscia Fara.

Please use the blog's comment feature to share your thoughts and ideas.